The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Kung Fu Strike doesn’t inspire much emotion, good or bad. I’ve already forgotten what happened in the story, which is delivered with still images and text. When the music wasn’t disappearing behind the kicks and punches of combat, it did nothing to stand out. The art style and character design tries too hard to mimic Street Fighter IV, and the animation is stiff but functional. It’s not a memorable game, but it’s not bad.
Kung Fu Strike is all about beating up enemies with impressive kung fu moves in a series of arenas. Tapping the attack button to fight your way through dozens of enemies is a breeze; you can even hold down the X button to pull off an impressive dance-like combo as long as your opponents don’t start blocking, at which point you need to change up your strategy. As you fight, you build up a meter that lets you pull off Chi moves. Holding down A and X readies your Chi move, you point in the direction you want to unleash, and release. It’s a satisfying way to pull off a powerful and frequently used attack.
In a mostly mediocre game, the combat is Kung Fu Strike’s best asset. It’s easy to grasp, has a quick pace, and feels manageable, even when you are surrounded by multiple enemies. I had many scenarios where I began to feel overwhelmed, only to impressively Chi move my way out, or pull off a series of successive counters and roll out of danger.
As you progress, you collect money to buy assorted moves and power-ups. You also unlock the ability to call in computer-controlled characters during battle to help you out when you’re in a pinch. There are items that expand your health and allow you to store more Chi moves, but the way the difficulty spikes in the game (I had to drop down to easy before I was done, much to my personal shame), I would have liked to see some options to upgrade my strength or speed.
Two players can join forces for co-op, and Kung fu Strike functions well in this mode considering its roots in the beat-‘em-up genre. A few boss battles take place on a 2D plane, so bringing in a partner is useless there. On the 2D planes, only one player can get close enough to the boss to do any damage, and getting each player on either side of the boss is difficult. Even something as simple as starting out each player on opposite sides of the boss would have sufficed to make these few levels playable. It makes me question whether or not these few boss battle levels were even tested with multiple people.
Every battle takes place in an arena that throws enemies at you giving you plenty of opportunity to try out your kung fu combo skills. Most of the arenas are visually distinct, and many change up the “fight guys until the level is over” formula. In one scenario, I received power-ups to continually pull off Chi moves. In another, I was tasked with simply dodging bombs as they dropped from the sky. I applaud these attempts to change things up, but every level is still an arena that basically boils down to dwindling the tally of bad guys down to zero. I wanted more from Kung Fu Strike. Even with bells and whistles and bombs and bosses, it feels stale throughout.
I couldn’t help but wish the game was organized into traditional levels with beginnings and ends. The arena combat lends nothing to the story when every level is just a fight to defeat a certain number of enemies, and without the need to move from area to area, there is no reward or even a feeling of progression. Fighting lots of dudes is well executed, but it’s not exciting.
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