Reviewed: June 25, 2008
Released: June 3, 2008
Po the Panda dreams of becoming a Kung Fu grand master and you get to tag along on the ride of his lifetime. Po dreams so big the first level is his dream sequence turned gaming level which actually turned out rather well.
The whole game actually turned out well even though it had plenty of strikes that other games based from movies suffer from like short budgets and even shorter schedules. Kung Fu Panda stars Po the Panda who dreams of becoming one of the Kung Fu elite, a Kung Fu Master.
The first level really sets the tone and bar for Kung Fu Panda and keeps it high throughout the thirteen levels, rather short but fun all the way. You play mostly as Po the large bellied Panda but do get to step into the shoes, well sort of, of the Furious Five Kung Fu masters.
Kung Fu Panda is a platformer with a great choice of combat moves that you will definitely need in your fight to become a Kung Fu master. The story follows mostly along the movie, or so Iím told, I havenít seen the movie and probably wonít until it comes out on DVD.
You start out in the dream sequence and then itís to real life and real fighting mostly as Po with a good variety of button mashing moves. The bad guy is named Tai Lung who is returning to the Valley of Peace where Po lives and a hero needs to be found to battle him. Much of the game is spent fighting the warthogs who are the lowest enemy of Tai Lungs side but you get the usual big boss fights as well.
You will get your chance to fight as each of the Furious Five Kung Fun Masters but only in one short sequence s and how they want you to. By this I mean for one of the Furious Five youíre a crane and fly to get bring a message and simply beat off would be assailants in the air. The other of the five is also like this short fighting scene where you simply get a taste of things that could have been.
Most of the game you play as Po but he is not all that bad and even his large protruding tummy can be used to his advantage at times. Fighting is mostly finding out which combination move is the best for each enemy and using that one to win the battle. The platforming is handled well with plenty of jumping and moving along walkways but with some unique twists that make the game varied and fun.
The beginning of the game you start out having to try to beat the times of the Furious Five through rooms of fighting dummies with obstacles like fire pits and swinging spiked logs. This additional jumping and climbing to accomplish a simple beating on a dummy adds a puzzle type adventure on top of the fighting to keep things interesting.
Some of the moves you perform are more on the side of a ball of fur running over everything in the way but it makes for some unique fun. Most of the combat moves are various ways of punching and kicking but a couple moves you roll into a ball and mow down your opponents.
The controls handle pretty well, typical PS2 type and even the platforming, jumping and climbing is pretty easy without the usual small window of hitting each mark on each attempt at things. Too often in many games there is such a small spot you need to hit when trying to accomplish many of the moves but in Kung Fu Panda they left it pretty loose so its not too terribly difficult.
Some of the other fun are things like collecting coins to purchase better moves and more health that add up to some great overall gameplay. Kung Fu Panda is a great game and very fun, definitely better than most games based on movies.
The graphics for the PS2 version are pretty good and do make the game plenty of fun without many problems at all. They have spent a particularly good share of time getting the animations and textures with Po to look very good and the PlayStation 2 version turned out rather well despite the lower quality graphics.
I do have the PlayStation 3 version as well to use as a comparison and found that there was not much difference from the PS2 to the PS3 version except the obvious screen size and somewhat better graphics of the PS3. The PS2 version does look very good for all the animations and graphics and you will not be missing much if you have the lower priced system.
The other animations and visuals in the game, not including the black and white ball of fur you play most of the time, look good as well. Some scenes are particularly better than others but for the most part they took a good amount of time and effort to get things right in Kung Fu Panda.
I found out that the PS2 version has a mix of the real voices from the movie and some stand ins for the PS2 and the Wii versions. But you will be hard pressed to tell just which parts are whose voice especially with Poís main voice acting from Jack Black.
Other voices are well done and the music and sound effects are all done very well with no particular parts standing out above the other but none being bad either. One little thing I noticed when playing other versions of the game and the PS2 version, Po yells a lot more on the PS2 game.
While throwing his belly into the thick of it Po yells when performing some moves but in the PlayStation 2 version he does this a lot more which I found to be a bit annoying. Other than that the sound and audio was fine and did not have any problems, in fact it was actually pretty good. The background music and sound effects played fine and the theme music was even good enough quality to want to have it on a CD to listen to.
Once through the game and completing the levels you will have the chance to change the difficulty as well as play the mini games that you unlock. The multiplayer is actually just several additional levels that allow you to play others in a simple game like getting to the top of a set of platforms while enemies attack you all.
One game has you each shooting cannon like contraptions at balloons and other targets for a high score. The mini games are fun enough but sort of an add on to the main gaming but add to the overall gaming fun. Value will depend mostly on wanting to return to Po and the Furious Five and replay the game which would not be all that bad as it is pretty fun.
While the PlayStation 2 version does not have the high end graphics and great features of the PS3 like really great textures and additional screen resolutions the gaming is the same. You can have all the fun of belly stomping your way through all your enemies and becoming a Kung Fu master as the rough and ready Po the Panda.
Kung Fu Panda may not be a long lasting game but it adds some unique platforming with button mashing fighting and plenty of well done graphics and great audio. Kung Fu Panda for the PS2 is well worth the effort and even for a platformer and button masher well worth the cost.