Let’s get this out of the way first: Kung Fu Panda 2 is not the hardcore Kinect game you’ve been waiting for. It is, however, a competent, enjoyable title for the kids, mostly making good use of the Kinect’s functionality. As long as you don’t expect the kung fu segments to be a tournament quality fighting game, there is some enjoyment to be found.
When loading up the game for the first time, Po welcomes you to choose from Story Mode and Free Play, which becomes stocked with more options as you progress through the story. Until I looked it up, I was convinced that Jack Black was reprising his role. The replacement delivers that strong a performance.
Most of the story mode involves battles with wolves, komodo dragons, and other villainous beasts. Combat begins simple enough with punches and kicks, with new moves being introduced as the game progresses. Before long, you’ll be blocking, sweeping, and dodging your way through combat. There are three different styles to choose from: one quick, but light on damage, one slow, but strong and one balanced. Fight segments alternate between attack and defense with enough warning in between so you can prepare for the set of moves you’ll need to use. As you defeat enemies, you’ll have the opportunity to change styles by executing a finishing move. You can also call in one of the Furious Five (by shouting the name displayed) for a one-hit knockout mid-fight. Some enemies will try to surprise you as they enter the ring, giving you the opportunity to perform a sweep move that eliminates them from the fight.
When not fighting, Po will be tasked with chasing after fleeing baddies on a rickshaw, serving noodles to hungry customers, and throwing objects at targets. The rickshaw races are home to the spottiest controls as you’ll have to jump, crouch for speed, and swerve around obstacles. The swerving just isn’t responsive. You’ll also need to block objects being thrown at you. As you block, the item is fired back at your opponent. Hit them enough times and their rickshaw breaks. Some fights involve multiple targets, while others are more reminiscent of boss fights with a single enemy sporting a longer life bar.
The noodle serving segments reminded me of Tapper. You’ll need to choose the correct noodle type (color coded by bowl) and deliver it to the correct table. These controls worked fairly well. Target practice works in a similar fashion with Po tossing objects around the screen.
As you progress through the story, you’ll unlock each segment to be replayed in Free Play mode, which allows you to choose the segment you want to play in each of three difficulties. Some of the fights on Hard mode require some fast reflexes during the defensive segments.
Like many Kinect games, practice makes perfect. Some of the moves, especially the blocks, require you to move your body in very specific ways for the Kinect to recognize them. Punches, kicks, and jumps worked flawlessly, though. The audio recognition when calling in the Fearsome Five also worked well with a variety of different vocal types.
Kung Fu Panda 2 isn’t going to kickstart any hard core gamer’s engine, but it is a satisfying experience for the kids.
Review copy provided by publisher.