IGN Review of Kung Fu Panda 2
It's a widely known fact in the gaming world that games based on movies are usually sub-par because the development teams don't have enough time to make them good. The pressures of releasing at the same time as the film mean these games go out the door without polish or fully developed designs. It's readily apparent that this was the case with the PS3 version of Kung Fu Panda 2 after just minutes of gameplay. I can't believe the developers would have released such a bad game under any other circumstances.
Kung Fu Panda 2 more closely resembles something a developer would show off in the early stages of development. It's riddled with frame rate and collision issues, unresponsive controls, choppy animation, and design elements and other little mistakes that make the game seem incomplete.
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 gameplay in Kung Fu Panda 2 is pretty standard for a third-person action game. Playing as Po, you have a light and strong attack, as well as three special attacks that you learn as you progress through the game. In addition, you can toss enemies into the air and slam your own butt into the ground to knock them off their feet. There are also dodging and countering elements, and you can summon one of the Furious Five to deliver a quick blow once a meter is filled.
There's nothing wrong with this gameplay in theory, but the enemies behave in such a way that it's possible to simply pummel them with your light attack without taking any damage yourself. I found myself turning away to check my e-mail in the middle of some battles, knowing I could simply mash the square button without needing to pay attention to what was actually going on in the battle. Add in the special attacks, which mean instant death for most enemies, and you have a game that not only lacks challenge, it quickly becomes boring. When I did use them, I found the special attacks very inconsistent. One of the attacks, which involves Po zipping from enemy to enemy onscreen, sometimes took out every enemy in view and other times Po only attacked the enemy directly in front of him for no apparent reason.
Some puzzles are thrown in here and there to break up the combat gameplay, but Po gives you immediate audio cues as to the solution, so there's no real thinking necessary. There are also collectibles scattered throughout the environments, but none of them take more than a minute to find or reach.
Aside from the gameplay issues, Kung Fu Panda 2 also fails in other areas. During some combat sequences, the frame rate screeches almost to an absolute halt, making it impossible to land a counter attack on the rare occasion you actually need to. During the cinematics, characters move choppily and sometimes even float across the ground. Background artwork for onscreen messages will also pop up multiple times for no reason, and some of the actual messages hang on the screen for a long time.
During my full playthrough, which lasted roughly three hours, it felt like I spent just as much time watching cinematics as I did playing. There was a cinematic placed between just about every environment and a few more within the levels to boot. Because each environment consisted only of a small space with no more than three or four waves of enemies, the time spent on cinematics was excessive.
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