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PAX Impressions: Kung Fu Live

Posted by on September 7th, 2010 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

There were a hell of a lot of games set up in the exhibit hall at PAX 2010. In one corner, nestled next to a Dance Central exhibition, was a tent showing off PSN exclusive Kung Fu Live. Chris set up an appointment with the Kung Fu guys and we got a chance to experience the game hands-on (or hands-off, rather). Here’s a video of me beating the crap out of everything:

The game works like so: A Playstation Eye not only takes a picture of you, it captures your entire body and releases it into a virtual comic book world. That means you’re fighting as yourself, not some avatar that you detachedly control (like The Fight or some Kinect titles). This sort of involvement in a game can be traced back to early PS2 titles, even those GameBoy camera gimmick games from back in the day. What separates Kung Fu from the other attempts at pitting you in the game is its execution and precision. As a PSN title, it’s far and away the best digital title to make use of the PS Eye. Hell, it’s probably the best overall non-Move title to successfully flex the power and potential of the Eye.

While I’ll admit that it isn’t 100% precise, it does work. I’d be the first in line of skeptics of hands-free or even sensor remote control gaming, trust me. I’ve never owned a Wii and a hated what the system did to certain franchises. Warioware is one of my favorite frenetic series of games, so you can imagine how disappointed I was trying to struggle through mini-games on the Wii iteration of the game. Without getting too worked up about the Wii, I’ll just say that motion-controlled gaming has never interested me. After watching the pre-PAX trailer of Kung Fu Live, though, my interest was piqued.

Watching people play Kung Fu Live is more intriguing/entertaining than, say, watching the utter silly looking Dance Central. It’s also a ton of fun to play, the reason being you aren’t struggling to follow on-screen prompts. Instead, the only thing the game does is place you in its universe. The rest is up to you. The Eye picks up whatever moves you throw at it, meaning you’re not limited to stilted movements whatsoever. There are a few poses that perform special moves, but besides for maybe the lightning-shooting technique, all are easily performed. Watching yourself perform techniques and beating up baddies is exponentially more entertaining and satisfying than playing the prompt game. Here’s a video showing off one of the boss battles in the game:

The game is releasing at just the right time. Both people who already own an Eye or who will be receiving one as a part of the modestly priced Move bundle (yours truly being a member of the latter) will be able to enjoy this title. The hit detection isn’t flawless. However, the game was clearly set up and calibrated in a way that can cater to a bustling convention full of thousands of different body types and heights. I imagine the game performs a lot more precisely in the environment it was developed for: Your living room. I checked out the PS Move title The Fight, and while it was perhaps more responsive, Kung Fu Live was a lot more fun. It doesn’t hurt that it’s highly accessible as a PSN title, costs a lot less, and requires no peripheral controllers. You could hold the Move controller while playing, though, since the game picks up handheld weapons and allows you to use them. Beating down baddies with a Move controller, now that’s something I’m looking forward to trying.