Kung Fu Panda 2 is developed by Griptonite and published by THQ as a tie in game with the film of the same name. It was released for Xbox 360 as a Kinect title, on PS3 as a Move title and was also released on Wii and DS.
The game starts off where the film ends, during a celebration of defeating Lord Shen while looting wolves are in Gongman City. While fending off the wolves Po notices that there are others acting suspiciously in the city; some Komodo Dragons have infiltrated the city limits. With news of this Po and the Furious Five as well as the three masters travel out from the city to defeat this new threat; defeating wolves, gorillas and the komodo dragons who are led by Xaio Dan.
The graphics are reasonable but they do lack a lot of the charm that the films have and they are also stutter at times. There are very few animations for a lot of the actions in game which is a shame as it does make everything seem much more repetitive. The colours for the dodge mechanic are too similar for it to be easily noticeable and will be a real problem for anyone with colour-blindness. The game however is bright and colourful just like the films and is full of objects in the background. The are some problems occasionally though such as in some of the target minigames the timer covers where an enemy is which hides them completely from your view and they are able to get the element of surprise on you with projectiles coming out of nowhere.
The gameplay is based around the Kinect solely, with your actions controlling what Po does. A lot of it is straightforward with a punch equating to a punch and a kick to a kick. You can also perform double punches by punching both fists forward in unison and a jump kick which is activated via jumping; these both act as block-breakers. The standard battle is broken into 2 parts: attacking and defending. Attacking sees you beating up enemies with punches and kicks whilst using block breakers to get through their guard and kicks to catch them while they are mid-dodge. When you break through a guard or land a mid-dodge attack you get a prompt at the bottom right of the screen with a move which will inflict a larger amount of damage. These combos will also fill a helper meter with three pips; when all three pips are full instead of a combo finisher you get a prompt to call a member of the furious five. You shout the name of the member of the furious five to get them to finish the opponent off in a brief cutscene. Unfortunately later on this ends up being used a lot as you will complete more combos because the enemies have a lot of health. Enemies can both block and dodge attacks but if they dodge time slows and you can kick them mid-dodge to set up a combo.
Defending is generally more fun as it’s much more reactive as the enemy quickly attacks in a combo. Raising your left arm blocks left, the right arm for right block and both for a mid-attack. You can also dodge where an enemy will glow red if you need to dodge left or right and they will glow orange for an attack that you need to duck. As with all defending time slows slightly before an attack you aren’t ready to block; which speeds up just before contact. If you complete a block without getting hurt then you perform a counter which does some damage. Also occasionally when you defeat an enemy another enemy might jump in to attack you; upon which you are given a prompt similar to how you would block but with sweeping your arms instead. This counter attack is an instant knock-out and save a lot of time and gives more points in a challenge game.
There are also three mini-games that break up the campaign and are in the free play challenges. There is a rickshaw ride where you can sidestep to steer left and right on an on-rails track with either a timer to beat as you race to the finish or an enemy to defeat by keeping up and blocking thrown objects. A noodle minigame where customers hold coloured signs at one of three tables and you must chose the correct colour bowl by making a grabbing motion and then making noodles by doing a stirring motion before making a throw to a table with a matching sign colour. You can also block to catch bowls which will increase the timer for the game. Lastly there is a target mode where you aim with your left arm and throw with the right hand while ducking to dodge ranged attacks. Again you can block large objects but can throw them back as well. The games all are in free play as well as the campaign and medals can be achieved in free play but racking up a high score.
The audio is quite respectable with the usual oriental background music and sounds for punches etc. The original voice cast from the films are replaced by some quite talented voice actors. There are 3 that really stand out which are Master Shifu, Mantis and easily the best is Po who is an almost perfect rendition of Jack Black’s voice. The voice actor for Po imitates Jack to the point where every inflection in his voice is almost dead on and many people will not even notice that it isn’t Jack Black himself.
The story is weak and disjointed but serves the purpose of holding the stages together, though the dialogue is fairly decent with Po being quite overconfident and wise-cracking.
The game keeps to the source material with regards to backgrounds and characters etc and keeps everything nice, bright and colourful. The overall quality of the graphics is reasonable and unfortunately the frame rate isn’t too good and stutters occasionally.
The voice acting is reasonable and although the movie’s voice actors aren’t present some of the new cast are very good imitators.
The gameplay is fun despite being repetitive but the game doesn’t have enough variety to really shine and when each of the later fights ends up with you calling a member of the furious five to finish off the enemy it becomes quite boring. Unfortunately the final few battles are some of the easiest you will come up against as the enemies mid game will have you donging and block much more difficult combos than the final few. The minigames are quite fun to play a few times but aren’t going to keep you coming back for more.
The campaign is pretty easy by almost any standard and will only last a few hours. Beyond the campaign is free play which offers challenges based on the mini-games as well as combat arenas to fight through but these do get repetitive and won’t last very long either.
The core gameplay itself has lots of potential but lack of variety and simplicity of the AI means that this gets repetitive fast and the shortness of the game does make quite an impact as well. That isn’t to say the combat isn’t fun but soon enemies have exactly the same attack cycles and once you’ve learnt it you will win easily.
The gameplay is fun but repetitive and the highlight of the combat is definitely the defending as its much more reaction based. The minigames are ok but not that great and playing them for challenges was not my thing really but will appeal to kids. That is the main thing to remember though; this is a Kids game based on a kid’s film but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it. It is easy bright and colourful and it is a film tie in, it’s not going to be the game of the year but it is good fun while it lasts. I really did enjoy the combat and if it was fleshed out more and had some better AI it would stand as one of the best Kinect titles but as it doesn’t it is just a decent game that isn’t anything but simple, clean fun.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.