In my infinite wisdom I decided to spend a couple of hours at the gym prior to first going hands on with Kung-Fu for Kinect – the new Kinect only title to come out of the Virtual Air Guitar Company’s studio.
20 minutes later, I was regretting that decision immensely. An hour after that I was crawling around the floor in pain, sweating like I’ve never sweated before. This is most certainly a game that gives you one hell of a workout.
Kung-Fu for Kinect does pretty much what it says on the tin. It works with Kinect for Xbox One, and it gives you the opportunity to ply your wares as a kung-fu ninja, fighting off numerous demons, gigantic monsters and super strongmen with only your own real world skills, fitness and power.
Brought to you in comic book style, with you playing the part of the main protagonist, Kung-Fu tells a tale of mystery, of destruction and of enlightenment. It’s delivered nicely but if you’re looking for something that will have you engrossed, you’ll be left wanting. But seriously, the lore that confronts you throughout the main story really does play second fiddle to the fast hard action. That’s not to say it’s not good, it is and the chance to pull off various moves before the action starts in order to see yourself taking pride of place in the book is well crafted, but the actual gameplay is the main draw. As it should be really.
With your own skin captured by the power of Kinect, it is you who are mysteriously transported into the action and, once again, it is you who will need to keep on the move long enough to fight back the forces of evil across 15 various comic book chapters. With each one coming with at least one, and possibly two fighting sections, you’ll be hard pushed to complete matters in less than around five hours, with at least double that time being needed should you wish to see Kung-Fu for Kinect as it really is.
The action itself works pretty well and each and every kick, punch and attack you make feels like it’ll do some damage. Occasionally, and this is normally only when the big end of chapter bosses are on screen, you’ll be left frustrated by the amount of punches you’ll need to throw in order to make contact, but for the majority of the time it all works well. Standard one arm punches will be your most frequent attack, but super powered double hits are also possible, as are the odd kick or two. Just ensure your play area is clear of kids, dogs and any valuable vases as you’ll be moving around a lot.
With further powers being delivered on a fairly consistent basis, it won’t take you long to be messing around and mixing up your attacks with lightning strikes, ground stomps and somersaults all present. Should you fight your way through to the latter stages, you’ll also experience the art of flying and time pausing, although the action required for both of these sometimes sees Kinect fail to deliver. You’ll find most of the moves easy to pull off – at least until you try and bother with the hugely inaccurate, hugely frustrating magic bow which fires golden arrows through the air. You can also throw player movement into the ‘annoying’ section of Kung-Fu as, with a limited size to wander, you’ll need to power left and right across the screen with arm movements only. As you can expect, something which requires constant moving from the shoulders will need the player to be reasonably fit and able. Or perhaps Kung-Fu will make you fit and able! Whichever it is, that world of pain I initially spoke about will come down on you like a ton of bricks.
The enemies that you’ll be fighting are pretty standard ‘bad guy’ fare, with other ninjas, heavily dressed mummies, wailing banshees and spear wielding warriors all attacking at various times. You’ll occasionally need to mix up your attacks in order to defeat the masses, but if you’re quick and able to deliver blows like ninja master Bruce Lee, then you will find a flurry of kicks is just about enough. Go up against the gargantuan club carrying monsters though and you’ll be needing to search out health shrines, power packs and size increasers (something which makes you ten times your normal size) on a regular basis.
The story mode is rather good fun to play through, but once you’re done, will have little reason to go back through everything again. That is unless you feel the need to go and hit it on a higher difficulty level, trying to acquire additional XP in an attempt to level up your numerous skills a bit further. Failing that, you’ll be left with a challenge mode that tries its best to bring you some hot one off action plays. It’s a nice option to have, but it’s all a bit disappointing after the story is done and dusted.
Kung-Fu for Kinect on Xbox One delivers a pretty damn good motion controlled experience and, as I’ve come to expect from the team at the Virtual Air Guitar Company, a Kinect experience like no other. There are issues, but when you get a game that focuses so heavily on the Kinect tracker and combine that with a small indie developer, then that’s always going to be the case. If you’re expecting a tightly controlled brawler that flows with precision, then you’ll be best off looking elsewhere.
But don’t let that put you off for one minute. If you’re fed up with sitting on the sofa with a controller in hand, a cigarette behind your ear and a table full of tins to set your gaming sessions up, then you occasionally need to be re-thinking your life.
In fact, you could do a whole lot worse than getting up and moving to the ninja beat of Kung-Fu for Kinect today. You’ll feel better for it. Once the pain has worn off.