Kung Fu Live PS3 Review

Publisher – Virtual Air Guitar Company – Developer – Virtual Air Guitar Company – Genre – Fighting – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

The PlayStation Eye was never designed to be similar to Kinect, at least not in the manner that Kung Fu Live presents to the player. In this downloadable game your entire body is tracked by Sony’s camera, something which Kinect was specifically designed for. Kung Fu Live is also good fun at times, but it’s nowhere near as good as it could have been.

Kung Fu Live is a side-on fighting game in which, thanks to the PlayStation Eye, you see yourself actually appear on the screen. For those concerned about needing any prior martial arts experience, this is in no way a requisite – the game picks up simple punches and kicks and as long as you connect them with your on-screen opponents, then you can fight as clumsily or as skilfully as you’d like. It’s like magic when you see a mini version of yourself on the screen and you can employ uppercuts, flying kicks, combos, as well as jumping, running to the side and ducking to avoid incoming enemy attacks. Whatever takes your fancy, really.

If only the results were always as tidy as this, we could have been looking at something quite special.

Sadly, the game demands far too much, though. The amount of space required is between 6 and 9 feet (something which the PlayStation Store description fails to mention) as the camera needs to see your entire body in order for it to work properly, and the taller you are the further you need to be away to enable said camera to see you from head to toe. This will be the first stumbling block for many, having to move furniture around and in some smaller or oddly shaped rooms it just isn’t going to work like it should, particularly as side to side movement is required to get the most out of the game, well unless you want to kick and punch to move, which is just as awkward as it sounds.

The space issues are far from the end of its problems, though, as calibrating can be a real pain. You are supposed to be able to get rid of the background of your room, but in my experience whatever I attempted to do, most times saw my body being obscured and portions of my living room appearing on the TV screen. Not forgetting to mention the lighting: anytime I have played at night time, the game has told me that the room is too dark, now I don’t know if it has a thing against low energy light bulbs, but I tried switching all my lights on and it still remained an issue.

All of these problems are a real shame as Kung Fu Live can, and has the potential to be, a load of fun. When I did manage to get it working, I found the fights to be the kind of silly entertainment and full body workouts that such motion games regularly bring to the living room. I also found it to be satisfying to take down my opponents with simple and wild attacks, well when I wasn”t sinking into the ground or dispersing on the screen that is.

Still, there is some gestures that I could barely get the game to recognise. Somersaults are achieved with bending and throwing your arms back, but rarely could I get them to work and saw them happen more when I wasn’t even requesting them, which is rather annoying. All the problems just contribute to making the game a frustrating mess.

The game does have a number of modes. There’s the typical one on one and a variety of survival modes, as well as a story mode. The story is fantastic – the fact that you see yourself appearing inside of a comic strip may be a novelty, although if you don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s the kind of fun that will get yourself laughing at yourself for quite some time, and, as you can watch them again, even after the rather short story mode is done with you can still return and laugh at your own poses.

There's a lot of moments that do impress, such as actually starring in the comic. It's just a shame about the rest of the mess.

There’s also a multiplayer mode, but just don’t expect another player to join in as not only would you likely actually come to blows on the TV screen, but it would probably happen in the real world too, and, I may be wrong, but I don’t think the PlayStation Eye would be really up to tracking two players at once in such a game. Basically, up to three other players use a controller while the other does the entire body workout, which makes for quite a few laughs.

That’s exactly how I would describe Kung Fu Live, it’s a good laugh and there is fun to be had, but it’s also a frustrating mess of a game that seemingly wants you to be playing in an empty room in order for it to work properly. There are moments of satisfaction, but there are just too many other inconsistencies that, once the initial novelty wore off, I found to be very annoying and it regularly got me wondering if the PlayStation Eye is really up to the task for such an ambitious game.