It’s strange that it took the release of the Xbox Kinect for someone to release a game on the PS3 which utilizes only the PlayStation Eye camera, but that’s exactly what the folks over at Virtual Air Guitar have done with the title, Kung-Fu Live. Unlike all other motion based titles on the PS3, Kung-Fu Live does not require any of the Move controllers, only the PlayStation Eye. However, this is likely detrimental to the game as I am sure that I can’t be the only gamer who had issues getting this game to work smoothly. Without the Move wand acting as a marker for the camera, the game has to rely on the poor resolution of the Eye to attempt to put you into the game and that can cause some serious issues in a game such as this where you are actually put into the game as a character.
The presentation of the game is actually quite enjoyable and I had some high hopes for the title – the story puts you into the middle of a comic book, literally. When you first start up the title you must go through a somewhat clunky calibration process to try and isolate your body from the rest of the items in your room. While the game does tell you that the room must be well lit (check), you’re clothing must not blend in with the background(check) and you have ample room to play (check), what it doesn’t tell you is that the setup is going to both confuse and frustrate you as you attempt to get moving in the game. For what it’s worth, I had not yet tested out my Kinect system so using this style of control was my first attempt at body as the controller – so my view was not yet influenced by the relative ease of that setup. For example, I was supposed to move through the camera’s field of vision to help it both track me and wipe away background noise, yet every time I did this either my head, hand, or something in the background triggered the system to restart the calibration process which made something that should take only a minute of time over 10 minutes, plus a room redecoration to complete. Once I finally made it into the game, things started out fairly interesting. Snapshots of me where used in the comic that is being used to tell the story of the game, and art effects were overlaid to not be a jarring experience. My hopes started to rise a little.
Sadly, once the action itself started my soul was crushed. Sure I was pleasantly surprised to see my actions displayed onscreen not just translated to an avatar, but actually as me and in near real time. That’s pretty much where the joy stopped though, as everything else seemed to move downhill from there. As I was attacked by ninjas I kicked, punched, twirled and crane kicked in an attempt to beat him down. And while my movements happened onscreen, the action didn’t really map out well. When I tried to punch sometimes the game would assume I was doing a jump, and kicks caused me to do a flashy power move (later revealed to be initiated by doing a double punch, not a kick). Hit detection was spotty at best as there were clearly times where I saw my first go through the head of the onscreen enemy, yet my fists of fury never delivered the goods to his skull. This went on for quite a while until frustration got the best of me and the game was shut down.
Further attempts to play under different lighting and clothing conditions did nothing to improve my ability to play the game, so I know that it definitely wasn’t for lack of trying. If a game is going to be this limiting in how many people can play, then I question if any testing was done under less than ideal circumstances. The premise of the game had potential to be interesting with the ability to grab items from your room (a baby, a hockey stick, etc) and actually use them to aid you in battle. The game does feature more than just the story mode and some multiplayer components as well, but seeing at how broken the core game was I was unable to fully experience these other options. But for those who have the pristine setup where this might actually work for you, here’s a short rundown. The multiplayer mode pits the single on camera person against up to four people using controllers that control the enemies onscreen. This might make for a fun and frantic multiplayer session, but then again might make for some strained friendships (along with the strained groins.) You can also customize a fight with the number of rounds, enemies and locations you want to fight in a single player mode.
Should you bother checking this title out? I have a very tough time recommending this to people who even have the ideal setup simply because of the experience that I had. If the game couldn’t identify my moves correctly even though my onscreen character was mapped properly according to the massive reviewer guidelines we received, then I have doubts that even under the best conditions it would control as you would hope. Perhaps this title should have been worked on a little longer to work out any kinks, because there will likely be a lot of upset people who think they have an adequate setup to play this title, only to be disappointed when they go to play and see how unresponsive it is.
- Very rough around the edges with spotty hit detection when the player capture mechanism actually does work out correctly. Avoid unless you have a pristine gaming area that has zero background image noise. It’s too bad, as the method of play had some promise.
Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3
— Jeff Paramchuk