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Kung Fu Panda Review

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Developer: Luxoflux Publisher: Activision
Release Date: June 3, 2008 Also On: PC, PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

Most movie-based games are painful to play. Take Spiderwick for example. Then again, that was also painful to watch. Kung Fu Panda is the exception to the rule. The folks at Activision and developers Luxoflux somehow managed to make this game an entertaining platformer romp, even for older gamers. While the target audience is children, parents can play along knowing that they will have just as much enjoyment from playing as their kids.

You play as a panda named Po who thinks he knows kung fu (but really doesn’t) and by chance becomes a kung fu master. You join a gang of ninjas and are pronounced the Dragon Warrior. The storyline is based on the Dreamworks picture of the same name. The movie’s voice actors reprise their roles in the video game. Jack Black and the rest of the actors in the movie add a level of authenticity to the product, making it feel all the more like the movie.

Even better than the voice acting though is the graphics. A vibrant animated world comes to life. If you are playing on PS3 especially you will notice the finer details such as Po’s hair (as well as the other characters), the lighting, water effects and character models. Whether or not you have seen the movie, this is what you expect from not just a PS3 game but from a Dreamworks picture. I was quite impressed by the amount of effort they put into making this look like an animated feature film.

The game itself isn’t lacking, either. Most of the game is a series of platforming, beat-em-up fighting sequences and collecting various things. This is what you expect from most licensed platformers, but with the quality production value, the standard platforming is more tolerable than usual. There are also a number of mini-games, as one would expect from a game like this. A few of them involve flying missions. One of them you attempt to avoid lighting will taking out some enemy birds, the other you are carrying Po while flying and attempting to avoid a gator.

While most of the fighting is button mashing, there are a surprising number of different moves and combos you can use to dispose of your enemies. Standard punches, jump kicks, pounds, and particularly the rolling panda move is quite damaging to enemies. Coins collected from fallen foes and broken boxes can be used to upgrade abilities at the end of each level. This includes health and Chi upgrades. Chi is used for special attacks and like health shows up on a bar on the upper left corner of the screen.

I have to say that as much as I tend to loathe licensed movie games, Kung Fu Panda is quite a decent platformer. It won’t win any awards, but it gets the job done nicely and is sure to entertain lots of kids who get home from watching the movie. The fact that a parent could get involved and play in multi-player is even better family fun. Still, Kung Fu Panda is not for everyone. I found it to be overly easy. Anyone over the age of 12 or 13 will probably find a game like Ratchet and Clank to be far more suitable. If you have children, though, this is a great game for them and you to play together.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 7.2
Written by Kyle Review Guide