IGN Review of Kung Fu Panda 2
My overall perception of Kinect has been pretty mixed. Some of the games are awesome; others not so much. In general my biggest problem with motion controls is that they're forced on games where they don't belong. However, they're perfect for something like Kung Fu Panda 2, and that's the reason why the Xbox 360 version of the movie spin-off is the best.
Kung Fu Panda 2's story is set after that of the film. Po and the rest of the Furious Five find themselves troubled by wolves, gorillas, and komodo dragons. With the help of the Kung Fu masters, Po has to uncover the plot behind this siege and put a stop to it. The story is just OK, but it does fit nicely into the larger Kung Fu Panda universe, with the characters behaving true to their big screen counterparts.
The Kung Fu Panda property is centered around fighting, and you do a lot of it in Kung Fu Panda 2. Granted, it's not real Kung Fu, but I don't think that really matters in this case. You punch, kick, jump, block and dodge against a variety of enemies, and once their health is low enough, you can perform a special finishing move. Once you've managed to land a blow on a stunned enemy at least three times, you can summon one of the Furious Five to finish him off by calling out their name.
For the most part, the fighting was pretty fun. The Kinect sensor accurately detected my movements, removing the frustration prevalent in many other games that use the peripheral. The animations and sound effects accompanying my moves were also satisfying. The only downfall is that there isn't much variety in these battles. Once you've got the moves down and know how to execute them to your advantage, all of the fights feel pretty much the same.
But fighting isn't the only thing you do in Kung Fu Panda 2. There are also rickshaw racing levels that have you leaning from side to side to steer, and ducking and jumping to clear obstacles. Noodle-serving levels have you grabbing bowls, stirring, and tossing them to hungry customers, and in some other levels you have to aim and throw rocks to take out ranged enemies. There's nothing revolutionary in any of these games, but they're executed well and serve as a nice counterpart to the fighting gameplay.
My biggest complaint with Kung Fu Panda 2 is that there were way too many cutscenes, and the way they broke up the gameplay was more obvious while standing than it was sitting with a controller in the other versions. The fact that the animation wasn't that great in them didn't help matters any.
The Xbox 360 version of Kung Fu Panda 2 also has more legs after you finish the story mode, as you can go back and replay any of the fighting sequences, races, or noodle levels. The story mode won't take you much more than three hours to finish, so the extra options are a good thing.
Perhaps the best thing about Kung Fu Panda 2 is that while I was playing, I kept thinking that kids would really love it. How many of us tried out fighting moves after seeing them in a movie when were young? I know I certainly did. Turning something kids are already bound to do after seeing the film into a game is really quite brilliant.
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