Kung-Fu LIVE

A review I wrote for the PSN game Kung-Fu LIVE for the website www.square-go.com

So, Microsoft are asking you to spend £130 or so for a Kinect camera for your 360. Did you know Sony can sell you a PlayStation Eye camera for £30 or so which can do the same thing? Well, if you have a big enough front room. And it’s well lit. And if you buy Kung-Fu LIVE from the PSN store. The only question remains is: just because you can, should you?

Kung-Fu LIVE borrows one of the main ideas of Kinect in that you are the controller. You stand in front of the camera and it shows you in the world of the game. As you can probably tell from the title, this is a fighting game and as you swing a punch the camera puts it on the screen. Said punch will hopefully connect with the face of your enemy and off you go.

There is some skill required rather than just randomly swinging your arms around. On the easier difficulty levels before an enemy attacks you briefly see an icon on the screen showing you where it will hit so you get a second to duck or jump out of the way. You can do somersaults and special attacks, like lightning bolts, depending on the motions of your arms or body.

This issue here is with the hardware itself. It’s a very particular game in that you need to be standing in the right place with the right amount of light against the right background. Whereas the Kinect has got it’s fancy 3D motion tracking technology the PlayStation Eye is basically a webcam. If the light isn’t right you will end up with a flickery shadow of yourself in the game. This also means it won’t track your attacks properly, sending you jumping through the air rather than punching as you intended. As you can imagine this gets annoying. The setup mode is quite in depth as well as including a whole heap of manual sliders and options to play with. This can help a great deal but when it’s the camera itself, not the software, causing the niggles there is only so much it can do.

The game looks a treat using comic book style panels to tell the story and in between levels the game gets you to strike poses which it incorporates into the panels. Unfortunately, the single player game gets quite frustrating quite quickly thanks to how accurately the enemies can block your attacks; so you’ll probably spend more time in the multiplayer mode. However, in view of the fact you have to jump around swinging punches, you can’t have multiple people on screen at once. The other players control the enemies using the DualShock controllers whilst the main player uses the camera. It’s fun but more fun for the person standing up on the camera rather than using the controller.

When the Kung-Fu LIVE does work it’s enjoyable. It’s nothing that will suck you in for hours at a time, but for parties it’ll certainly keep everyone entertained but it’s quite frustrating how much the game is constrained by the technology.

Three stars out of five

Reviewed on PlayStation 3

Originally published on 27th December 2010

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