*huff* *puff* hang on,,, *pant* wait a second, I’ll be *wheeze* with you in a bit... phew! Right, I think I have enough breath to let you know about Kung Fu Live, the latest game that proves you can actually get fit with this hobby.
So what you have here is an old-school 2D brawler game using new-school motion capture and sensing controls.
After rigorous training, that is, setting up your PS3’s Eye camera, it is time to literally jump into the action. Kung Fu Live throws an image of your good self into a fu-themed fighting game, where you just look that little bit weird because of the need to constantly face the TV whilst battling foes to your left and right (anybody who has seen the animation from kids show Angela Anaconda knows the look.)
You can jump, punch, and even fly and flip on screen as the Eye picks up and exaggerates your in-living-room moves. Landing combos in a flurry of attacks will rack up the damage against the animated thugs lurching your way. Flipping over behind them or driving a flying kick into their heads is satisfying and fun.
Between bouts (thankfully that last for five minutes or less), the game asks you to pose for various camera shots. Match your body to the onscreen silhouettes’ – including close ups – and then see yourself as the story unfolds in cheesy comic book style, including voice-overs. It is a touch that draws you further into the game.
As with all things motion control, the game could easily degenerate into mindless air-flailing, and a big part of it is just that, but the developer, The Virtual Air Guitar Company, has thrown in extra elements to layer a thin veneer of strategy; Enemies can block attacks, objects can –sort of, it takes practise – be kicked or punched towards enemies and dodging plus counter attacks can be deployed.
Then there are the Chi powered special attacks. The Power Punch (Two arms out) and Flying are fun, but there is nothing more satisfying than a good jump in the air, followed by kneel and Ground Pound to really get the blood racing. Actually, shooting lightning from your hands is almost as satisfying.
Apart from the story mode, there are a number of survival modes, including some impressive boss battles as well as a strange sort of multiplayer where up to four players take PS3 controllers and manage an on screen thug to battle against a single on-camera player. I can see the need to go this way with multiplayer, my room copped a battering as it was with just me leaping around like an idiot. Other players would need to cower in armchairs well out of the way of a flying kick.
This game is the most finicky I have encountered for PlayStation Eye set up. And again this is understandable. My gaming den is not the best equipped for this purpose, but removing mirrors, lighting the room well and wearing contrasting clothes helped a lot. Still the on screen representation and detection was not fantastic. One major tip, if you are going to wear shorts, try to match the colour of your legs, for much of this game my muscular calves and feet were not detected, making my on-screen avatar look like a well buffed dwarf, handy for ducking attacks however.
There are plenty of adjustments and tips in getting your set-up optimised for your playing space, but it can be a chore if you are not starting with an ideal room space.
It takes a bit of practise, movement, including jumps and horizontal screen traversal can be dodgy, but if you get up a rhythm, there is satisfying beat-up fun to be had here, as long as your heart can take it.