Delivering hooks, attempting throws, picking up sticks to bludgeon opponents with, and triggering totem powers are just a few of the many inconsistent maneuvers that often get lost in translation between the gestures you’re meant to use and what actually happens when you try them. It's not that they don't ever work, period; they just don't work when you need them to. As you progress into the tougher battles, the frustration this spurs eventually builds to a boiling point where you might find yourself more content to punch the Kinect itself rather than the air in front of it. Inadvisable, but hey--you could hardly be blamed if you do.
Special attacks put some interesting elements into play beyond trading basic blows. Holding your arms back to charge up your Ki meter to three different levels lets you trigger all manner of jump kicks, flips, headbutts, energy blasts, and more. Delivering repeated blows to the same area of your opponent creates combos, and well-timed blocks can generate counters moves. The problem is these cooler attacks play out as mini-cutscenes that have you standing around waiting to get back into the fight. Admittedly, they're a good chance to rest for a second, but the disconnect from the one-to-one movement-based action breaks up the momentum of combat in an awkward way.
Arcade and training modes give you the opportunity to try out each of the dozen characters and compete in a series of fights against AI opponents. While each warrior has a few unique moves--and strengths and weaknesses--that differentiate their fighting styles, they're far from the standout characters fans of the genre have come to expect. Pummeling your way through round after round with different fighters doesn't feel rewarding, and the fatigue that sets in after a few boisterous bouts is a welcome excuse to just stop playing.
Local multiplayer matches are perhaps the most enjoyable part of this meager package--if only because your human opponent is likely to have just as hard of a time pulling off the trickier moves as you will. That, and it's almost impossible not to laugh when you're standing next to someone who's essentially trying to beat you up by punching and kicking in the wrong direction. At least the Kinect does a great job of sorting out who's doing what in your living room when you're standing side-by-side swinging.
Fighter Within's good looks and intriguing premise don't pan out into a virtual brawling experience you'll want to stick with past the first few rounds. Boring fighters, advanced attacks that are horribly imprecise to pull off, and a paper-thin solo campaign add up to a disappointing slog that feels like a punishment--both physically and mentally.