Review: Kung Fu Panda

Square

Kung Fu Panda is a movie-based game which embarks on Po’s adventure. Po is a clumsy, lazy and always hungry panda who has always dreamt of fighting alongside his heroes. He is surprisingly chosen to become a Dragon Warrior and to fight alongside his idols, the Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. With the evil snow leopard – Tai Lung – on his way, Po – under the supervision of Master Shifu – must turn his dreams into a reality and protect his city from danger.

For a movie-based game, Kung Fu Panda is surprisingly quite good. The actual storyline is clear and very understandable. The majority of the levels are great fun, such as defeating gorillas using your bear fists, Panda Stumbling downhill and even rowing a boat add to a great experience both kids and adults will enjoy. The vast range of characters you play as is a good addition, though some not as good as others.

Playing as characters such as Po, Master Shifu and the Furious Five adds another dimension to the game as each character has different characteristics to explore. (Unfortunately, for Mantis and Viper fans, you only play as them in a quick time event sequence.) Quick time events (if you haven’t come across them before) require player’s to press the corresponding buttons to those shown on screen. The older gamer will get through them with ease as they are intended for the younger gamer.

Each level has tasks for players to complete in order to progress. These range from finding a number of items, to destroying a certain number of items. In addition to the tasks you need to complete, there are also coins to collect. The coins can be used to upgrade Po’s abilities and costumes at the end of each level, though I personally didn’t see much of a difference (apart from the costumes).

On screen there are simply three features you need to know about. The first is the blue “Chi” meter. Chi is a special power which is needed for certain moves such as “Panda Stomp”. To build up the Chi meter, players can collect it from defeated enemies. Secondly, there is the red “Health” meter which needs no description. Similarly to Chi, health can be obtained from defeated enemies and additionally in baskets throughout the level.

Kung Fu Panda has simple, easy to pick-up-and-play controls. X (fast) and Y (strong) attack, A to jump and B is the “action” button. As players progress through the game, they’ll unlock new moves which are a little more complicated. For example: To Panda Stumble, you simply run forwards using the left thumbstick and press B. To come out of Panda Stumble, players simply press B or can continue until their chi runs out.

One of the most noticeable features of Kung Fu Panda is the character’s voices. Originally, I thought they were the genuine voices of Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman, but after a little bit of digging I discovered they were sound-alikes. Whilst I was slightly disappointed, I was also quite surprised as the voice actors do spot-on impressions of both actors.

Graphically, the characters look fantastic. Every little hair on Po’s coat is visible and it really is a pleasure to watch. But with the good comes the bad. Whilst the character graphics look amazing, the actual background looks poorly done as they look pixelated and generally quite tacky. What’s also a shame is how some environments are reused. Whether that’s to fit in with the story mode or laziness on the developers is another matter, but it would have been nice to see some variety to the environments.

The main problem with Kung Fu Panda is its longevity. The game has thirteen levels which can be completed in less than five hours makes this game hardly worth the £40 you would likely be paying. Making matters worse is that after the single-player is through, there isn’t much in the way of replayability with the exception of playing the game on a harder difficulty and the multiplayer.

Yes, Kung Fu Panda has multiplayer but this is not co-op like you’d expect. The multiplayer is made up of games which seem to be a rip-off of other games. From Super Smash Bros. style fighting games to matching pairs, there is a wide variety to choose from, but nothing worthwhile. There are two down-sides to the multiplayer–the first is how it’s only available locally. (No Xbox Live support.) In this day and age, we expect all of our games to have some form of Xbox Live capabilities. The second disappointing aspect of the multiplayer is how there is the option of single player, yet when you start the game, there’s no opponents and therefore nothing to do. Surely a bot system could have been incorporated?

The achievement list for Kung Fu Panda is pretty much average. The achievements include completing the game 100% on the hardest difficulty, creating some combos and finishing the story mode without dying. There’s a good mix but some of them seem too easy. Players can easily enter a cheat for invulnerability or infinite Chi in the paws menu, play through the level and unlock an achievement.