Kung Fu Panda 2 is quite an intriguing idea for a game. Remember the original Kung Fu Panda game? It wasn’t bad at all. It was by no means amazing but by the typical genre standards, it was quite good fun. Kung Fu Panda 2 is nothing like this, detracting from its platforming roots and sticking to a Kinect focused game that’s all about leaping around beating up goons.
Continuing on from the end of the first film, Po the Kung Fu fighting panda and the Furious Five has to fight off the last of Lord Shen’s army. To do this, players must literally hit out at their foes. Kinect based controls ensure that there’s no tapping of buttons. Instead if the player wants to punch, they punch towards the screen and they can also kick and do jump attacks by, well, kicking and jumping. If you’re over 10 this gets old within about five minutes. If you’re older than 50 and have a history of physical ailments, it also probably gets rather risky. Blocking also features by sticking an arm out to the side at the opportune moment. There’s also a series of special attacks too which require arranging arms in a set pattern or by calling out the name of one of the Furious Five. For the most part, it’s all pretty predictable. Players just take it in turns against the enemy AI to inflict a few blows before defending. Po can’t even be ganged up on with enemies being very polite and taking it in turns. While later enemy types provide a bit more of a challenge, it’s nothing major by any means if you’re an adult.
Controls play a big role here and fortunately once I adjusted Kinect a little, I found fighting to be pretty responsive. Instructions for how to block could have been explained better so as to reduce frustration but other than that, it’s all pretty intuitive and enjoyable. Right from the opening menus, this is a game that has been clearly designed in a way that means children can be left to get to grips with it by themselves. Something that not all family Kinect games manage to successfully achieve.
The story mode will only take around four hours or so to complete and that’s including the wealth of cut scenes. However, that doesn’t matter if you’re eight as then it’s ‘super crazy awesome’ or at least just plain old ‘awesome’ according to my young cousin/test subject.
Within the story mode, there are a few minigames too besides the fighting. Rickshaw races proved most popular with the need to chase down enemies while avoiding obstacles. There’s a noodle cooking event too which looks absolutely ridiculous causing players to ‘grab’ bowls, stir them and then toss the dish to customers quickly. It makes for a fine enough distraction though. There’s also a throwing game which is fun for five minutes much like the rest of the game.
The problem lies throughout in that I’m the wrong target audience. I’m standing there looking at Kung Fu Panda 2 despairing at the ridiculous amount of cut scenes that break up the action and the fact that the combat is fundamentally turn based rather than offering any fluid elements. But then there are the 8 year olds who love it and love watching the cut scenes unfold. The ones who are keen to play the Free Play mode simply to gain more points and medals.
So there’s the answer really. If you’re a (healthy and able bodied) child, you’ll clearly like this. Otherwise you’re just not going to see the point. It’s a cop out of an answer to an extent but it’s also undoubtedly true. While other games aimed at kids offer some great benefits to adults too, such as the Lego games, this one is well and truly in the child camp. Still, at least it’s tried to do something different rather than stick with the predictable platforming genre. It might even help burn some calories.
MLG Rating: 5/10
Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 10/06/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Kung Fu Panda 2 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360 Kinect. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.