What is it about games based on movies that instantly makes me cower in fear? Is it because I sort of instinctively know that the game is going to be terrible? Well perhaps I should listen to my instincts some more, as against my better judgment I sat down to play through Kung Fu Panda 2 on the Playstation 3. Adorable movie should mean an adorable game, right? Probably not.
The game picks up right from the movie, and you play as the enthusiastic panda Po to rid the city of the evil gorillas and dragons that are causing trouble for the citizens. Your ‘kung fu’ is reduced to bashing either the square or triangle button for a light and heavy attack respectively. This turns out to be as exciting as brushing your teeth with a teaspoon, so expect the button mashing to grow old very quickly. You do have an option of holding down the square button to launch enemies into the air and then slam them by hitting triangle, but this more than stuns enemies than actually polish them off. Failing that, you can always jump in the air and cannonball into the ground, which is useful for dispersing groups of enemies. You can also unlock a few special attacks, but these are only taught to you at different points in the game.
To break up the monotonous gameplay you are given a few puzzles to work out, but even these are a walk in the park. For example, there’s one scene where you have to figure out how to open a stone dragon’s mouth to get to the next level. Immediately Po shouts out “THOSE DRAGON CLAWS SHOULD BE HOLDING SOMETHING!” which of course leads you to dragging to smaller dragon statues around to unlock the puzzle. I know that the game is supposed to be easy to play for younger audiences, but this is just plain insulting.
Graphically the game is riddled with bugs. While the levels can pass as slightly above average, the characters themselves utilize awful shading and textures, and some of the worse voice-syncing I’ve ever seen in the game. Things go even worse when you encounter multiple enemies in combat – the framerate drops to a crawl and pauses for at least a second or two while you frantically bash away at the attack button. The voice acting is encouraging, but it’s not the original cast, so much of the characters’ charm is lost in translation.
Kung Fu Panda 2 really is a disappointment, given that the movie was such a lot of fun. With repetitive gameplay, average graphics, and buggy controls, this game fails to capture the magic of the movie. Give this one a miss unless you want to kung-fu your foot through your TV.