Kung-Fu Live Review
With Microsoft’s entry into the motion controlled world of gaming, Kinect – already proving to be a successful venture, Virtual Air Guitar Company decided it was time to make a game that shows off the potential of the PlayStation Eye camera. Kung-Fu Live attempts to bring full body tracking and controller-less action to the PlayStation Store but does it succeed?
The answer is a resounding sometimes. While it’s not as accurate as the Kinect, it does a good job of superimposing the player into a side scrolling world of Kung Fu mayhem. Naturally this does require a fair amount of calibration and demands a decent amount of available space which is roughly 2.5 x 3 metres according to the developers, although in practice often more is needed. Also needed is a clear way of defining yourself from the background. After that lengthy process is done then you’ll potentially have a fun time.
Kung-Fu Live gives players full control of all the movements and motions as you see yourself appear in the game. This is an impressive sight at first but as you flail your limbs around attempting to fight the on screen enemies, it’s soon clear that the possibilities haven’t quite been realised.
First of all, the collision detection is often dreadful to the point where you’ll be supposedly hitting your adversaries only for the game to fail to register it. This feels incredibly unfair and soul destroying given the real physical effort you have to put into playing the title. Secondly the exciting powers that the game teases you with often fail to execute with the gestures you’re taught. So all the lightning, power punches, backflips and ground shakes aren’t quite as accessible as they should be.
Despite all of these blemishes, Kung-Fu Live transforms into a highly playable game in between the moments of frustration. Seeing yourself on the screen fighting off the hordes is constantly impressive and the satisfaction of knowing you, not a controller, defeated the waves of enemies is rewarding.
The visuals aren’t anything too ambitious but manage to vary this with different environments and enemies. From standard grunts who serve as early punching bags to huge behemoths, the game does at least keep things steadily progressing. The sound effects also echo the titles obvious inspiration from old Kung Fu films.
You follow the simple yet charming story of a comic shop worker who foolishly releases evil into the world. The comic theme continues throughout and sees you posing in between combat sequences to later get implanted in the story. This is highly entertaining and funny if only to see what over the top expressions you’ve made. Unfortunately the story mode isn’t a lengthy affair despite the varying difficulties on offer.
The game isn’t just a single player event though and allows up to five players to join in. This assigns one person to the full body motion controls while the others take up controllers and try to beat them up. This can provide some highly entertaining gatherings as your friends laugh at you thrashing around attempting to combat their advances.
Kung-Fu Live is a title that promises so much innovation and fun but falls short of the mark due to its inconsistent technology. When it works it’s certainly a title to show that the PlayStation 3 can do controllerless gaming, but when it fails it’s both an embarrassment and a frustration. For the current price of £10.99 it’s just too steep of a price to gamble.
Update: A demo has now been released so you can test whether the game works for your setup.