Itâ€™s a truth seldom contested that a game based on a licensed property will be terrible. There are exceptions, but for every Batman: Arkham Asylum, you have something turgid like the Kinect version of Kung Fu Panda 2. This is a game that could be the very definition of â€śtruncated development cycleâ€ť. The end result? A shallow and lightweight piece of blandness that never quite manages to be fun, whether youâ€™re young or old.
I spent my time playing this game trying to see it through the eyes of a child, one who might have just seen the movie and is super keen to actually be Po the panda. I pictured this child getting through the menus, going excitedly to Story Mode, and getting very familiar with the loading screen. Then Po is there! Heâ€™s breaking the fourth wall to tell you how awesome you are at kung fu. A few aimless punches and kicks later, Po says the story will soon begin. Thereâ€™s that loading screen again!
Some very confusing, stilted, and just downright shoddy cutscenes follow, with some kind of plot shoved in there in a barebones fashion. Maybe itâ€™d make more sense if I had seen the movie, but Iâ€™m not so sure. In any case, three of these cutscenes played, each accompanied by the now-familiar loading screen. When you finally get to play, itâ€™s back to a bunch of Simon-says punching and kicking, with the occasional jump or post-striking thrown in.
This is the meat of the game, and it plays out like an early tech demo for Kinect. Iâ€™ve said it time and time again, but third party developers seem to still be having trouble reaching the bar set by Microsoftâ€™s own Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures. I guess it doesnâ€™t help if your publisher has â€” seemingly â€” given you a few days and a bottle of vodka to make an entire game.
Combat in Kung Fu Panda 2 never really gets any more interesting. Anything that might seem initially exciting, like yelling for Tigress or another of the Furious Five, quickly becomes irritating and repetitive. I can see a hypothetical child enjoying the novelty of such features, but quickly tiring and becoming confused by the disjointed narrative and oh-so-numerous loading screens.
A few other gameplay types slip in there, such as a rickshaw chase through some city streets that felt pulled from the PS1 era and overlaid with dull motion controls. Thereâ€™s also a Freeplay mode that is basically remixed fights, chases and so on nicked from the Story Mode and stripped of context.
And thatâ€™s about it. Po looks okay, but the rest of the graphics are pretty bad. Jack Black (it is Jack Black, right? Either him or a decent sound-alike) tries to sound enthusiastic, but otherwise the audio is dull, where it wasnâ€™t lifted from the film. Everything from the menu layout to various game design choices just scream â€śrushedâ€ť, with a healthy smattering of â€śill-advisedâ€ť.
It always sucks having to write a review like this. A game like this, made assuredly in awful conditions, was never going to do well. Instead, weâ€™re left with something that will be eagerly demanded by the children of your household, only for that eagerness to be replaced by boredom and irritation. Parents: if your kids think they want this game, try and distract them with something of a higher quality. If that doesnâ€™t work, then Iâ€™m afraid youâ€™re on your own.