Following a movie that’s steadily gaining post recognition for its funny, appealing and cool storyline, Kung Fu Panda The Game hits consoles all across the gaming community, and at least on the Xbox 360 its seems to be doing it with some style. And that’s a little surprising to say, considering the mediocre debuts of highly anticipated movie games like "Transformers," "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk" which left a lot of hardcore fans with a fairly dry taste in their mouths. Well finally, after a fairly long drought we have both a movie and a game that can be mentioned in the same breath as being both surprisingly solid and a good bit of fun.
If you haven’t seen the movie or figured it out yet, the story follows an apprentice noodle-maker Panda named "Po" who desperately desires to change his stars and dreams of becoming a famous Kung Fu hero within his village before he reaches the rank of Master Doughboy.
The village is protected by 5 mighty Kung Fu Masters highly respected among the people. With their five deadly and unique styles of Kung Fu, including "Viper," "Mantis," "Monkey," "Crane," and "Tiger," the 5 masters combine to form the "Furious Five." It’s the dream of nearly every up and coming youngster within the village to fight alongside the Furious Five. Of course, a dream wouldn’t be a dream if it were so easily attainable right? After all, who’d really consider a heavily overweight Panda with a huge appetite and a waist the size of the equator to be worthy enough to even grace the presence of the Furious Five? Well, as the fates would have it, Po’s dream is about to change through a wild sort of circumstances, and that which was just a dream is about to shape itself a reality.
Much like the movie, the game will take you on Po’s wild martial arts adventure undergoing rigorous training exercises, navigating various environments, overcoming dangerous obstacles, and defeating larger-than-life foes to help him unleash his inner Panda and ultimately fulfill his destiny to become the "Dragon Warrior" and save his village from one of the deadliest martial arts nemesis the land has ever known, the ferocious "Tai Lung."
The presentation of the game is exceptionally good. The character models are beautifully rendered and richly detailed so that they mimic their on-screen counterparts nearly exactly. The environments are large, bold and colorful filled with several interactive objects and do much to set the tone of the game. The character animations are very smooth and fluent and really help to boost the overall visual presentation of the game. Suffice to say this is truly a title worthy of more than a few graphical kudos.
Kung Fu Panda is initially a lot of fun to play and that’s primarily due to its solid game play engine. The controls are pretty easy to pick up allowing players to execute a wealth of stylishly cool punch, kick, throw, and weapon wielding combos with just the press of a few buttons. As Po advances through his adventure he’ll pick up a number of special moves to add to his kung fu repertoire including moves like the "Belly Blast," "Panda Stumble" and devastating "Panda Quake." New moves can be learned by attaining Kung Fu ability scrolls and later be upgraded on the fly to be more powerful by burning gold coins collected during Po’s travels. Coincidentally gold coins can also be used to purchase cool costumes so that players can kick major butt and do it in style.
Careful not to come off as a one-dimensional action adventure, the game also offers up a healthy mix of exploration and mini-quests for players to ordeal so that you don’t develop the ole’ "hack-and-slash" syndrome during game play. There are a number of collectibles out there waiting to be discovered by the curious adventurer which will prove beneficial in the long run and just to keep things on the up-beat players will have the opportunity to play other key cast members from the movie including Master Shifu and each of the Furious Five.
Not just during the story mode but also in the multiplayer mode players will be given the chance to play as other favored characters of the movie and a couple new ones not seen on the big screen. You can battle it out head to head with your friends in the multiplayer battle arenas or stand together side by side and take on hordes of enemies at a time. It’s pretty fun and a nice little diversion away from the norm.
Let’s face it. The movie-game genre has taken a lot of heat lately for its lackluster presentation of games based off movies (see our Bourne review earlier this week.)
It’s a bit of fresh air to finally have something good to say about a game of this genre considering the last few disappointing titles that have been churned out. Kung Fu Panda the game is just as good as the movie and if you haven’t had a chance to see either of the two, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Like the movie, the game boasts excellent visuals, a funny and compelling storyline with lots of depth, and great voice acting from the top performers from around the industry including Jack Black, Angela Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Lui, Seth Rogen, and David Cross.
Top it all off with a solid game play engine which truly allows players to reenact the on-screen experience in their own way and have a lot of fun doing it in the process. If you’ve got a tad of Kung Fu fever in you then you’re going to enjoy this game for all ages as it racks up a solid 4 GiN gems.