This is one of the more unique Kinect titles as it portrays yourself as the main character of the game, literally. If you haven’t heard of Kung-Fu High Impact, this is what it has in store for you:
You’ve helped plenty of heroes rumble through street-fighting brawlers. Kinect is here to return the favor. Fight your way to victory with this game that puts you inside your own classic side-scrolling platformer! Jump, punch, kick, and flip as you unleash an infinite array of Kinect-controlled combos in high-impact comic book-style action. Pound your way through an 15-chapter single-player comic book storyline. Flash all of your fight skills as you take on enemies ranging from hardcore street gangs to powerful wizards and evil mini-creatures. Pick your perfect fight by choosing your level, enemy, length of fight, and fine-tuning the physics for the ultimate custom battle.
This is a neat game, why I say neat, because it does show off Kinect’s capabilities but as an actual game, I’m 50/50 about it. The story mode only took about 2 1/2 hours to complete, but if you look at games like Final Fight, and I’ll even go back to the old school days, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, the stories don’t last nearly as long. There’s also some other modes to keep you busy, but the developers stuck to the beat ’em up tradition and it is a very repetitive game. As long as you like repetitive beat ’em up games (which I can’t think of many that aren’t) then you will probably really like this game.
The menu uses the Dance Central slide type. It works really well. You can also use a controller to navigate around as well so you have the best of both worlds. The main menu items consist of New/Continue Story, Custom Fight, How To Play, Options and My Stats. I’ll break down each one as usual. If you do go into the multiplayer section though, take note – you can’t back out without a controller. I was going through the menu items for the review and it locked me in there until I realized you had to use a controller to back out, just a FYI.
The story mode consists of two parts. You have the actual story which is portrayed in a classic comic book fashion, except it’s somewhat animated and you are the main character of the comic book as well as the game. The story is broken up into 15 chapters. 14 of these are action chapters, while the last is the epilogue. To begin each chapter, you are asked to perform certain poses to match. You aren’t graded or anything so you can literally do whatever you want. Once it takes a set of pictures of your poses, you then watch the comic unveil with your actual pictures in the comic. It is cool at first, but after about the 5th time, it just gets boring. You are able to just sit out of the story completely if you desire.
After you complete the story portion, you then begin the action portion. Fighting is actually really cool. You fight however you want, there are no rules or limits. You can kick, knee, punch, elbow, head butt and jump attack enemies. I even messed around and did some booty bouncing 🙂 If you want to make it more interesting, you can even use any object in your house and turn it into a weapon. Being that I have kids, they have toy weapons, so I borrowed their Nerf Battle Axe. It extended my reach in the game to about 4 feet. The problem with it (which I’m noticing in games where I test out peripheral functionality), is that swinging something slows you down compared to just using your fists/hands, but the fact is, it worked and worked well. I wanted to test out actually throwing something, but I didn’t have anything safe to throw at the time. Imagine throwing soft sponge balls or something and it portraying a projectile attack. That would be awesome, but you would need a helper to retrieve your ammo for you.
Anyhow, the fighting mechanics are normal. You have 2 bars, one is for your health and the other is for your magic. Magic is replenished over time and replenished faster by beating up the baddies. Your special moves consist dodging and blocking. When you are blocking, you hold up your arms and a blue glow emits around your arms or legs. You block low, you raise a knee, to block high, you raise an arm. You can also do somersaults, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time which can lead to frustration. There’s also a couple of levels where you can fly by just holding your arms straight out to the sides, but its basic at that.
You also have special powers. These moves consist of doing gestures and will result in various powers. The first is a power punch, which is probably your most used move. Simply, lean your body to one side with both arms out sideways and you’ll launch and power punch. The next special power is called Ground Shaker. Jumping up and putting your fist in the ground literally triggers this move, just be careful to not really hit your floor hard or you could end up hurting yourself. This move will typically off-balance the bigger baddies giving you a chance to attack. The next power is just Lighting which is done making an L gesture, but it does make you feel like you have power. 🙂 The game does insist on making sure you fry your enemies, not just shocking them. The last power is called Time Stop, which is just done doing a 5 point gesture with arms and legs. This slows time down for the enemies but you can still zip around like nothing is going on. I found it most useful with the projectile levels.
Speaking of projectiles, you do inherit a special item on a couple of the levels. It’s a magic bow and it’s quite cool. You make a bow and arrow gesture and when you pull an arrow to act as you are loading it, it will shoot. What you need to do to make sure this works properly, is your shooting arm needs to be the arm that is closer to Kinect. Your other arm becomes your aiming arm. Sometimes in the heat of battle, I was reversing it with my shooting arm farther away from Kinect, and it wasn’t working like it should have been. Your arrows automatically are flame arrows, so you get to catch stuff on fire as well. There’s one level that is just a pain in the butt that requires you to shoot a ton of arrows, after that level, shooting arrows isn’t as cool.
The only other things to mention with the actual gameplay is there are these things called Mystic Stones that have health bonuses, damage bonuses and other special items that assist you. They aren’t frequent so use them wisely, they also take a while to regenerate so there is some strategy involved, especially with the baddies that regain their health. I think they caused me the most problems out of all of them.
That’s pretty much the basis of the story and the gameplay. You just play each level and then complete the game. There is an option after you beat the story, to play it on hard as the default difficulty is set to normal. Hard mode enables the enemies to block more often, so you have to become creative and use combos. The more combos you land, the more damage you inflict, there is actually somewhat of a strategy element to this game which makes it more interesting.
After you beat the game, you will probably visit this area. Custom fight has a few options as well and I’ll break each one down. It has Mayhem Designer, Multiplayer and Survival modes. Mayhem Designer is your normal create your own fight style. Within it, you can choose what level to fight on which offers every level in the game.
The various levels include Field, Docks, Back Alley, Store Basement, Goji Lake Ruins, Wild Forest, Tribal Village, Swamp, Ruins, The Statues, Moonlit Bridge and The Horde. The majority of the levels offer platforms to jump up to where you can attack from above, but the first level, Field, does allow you to hide in the grass, not that it helps you against the AI, but it does help you via Multiplayer which I’ll get into. There are also a couple of levels where the environment allows interaction, such as punching trash cans/boxes into bad guys, hitting swinging lights and other little minor things, but it is welcomed, static environments are boring.
Other options in setting up the fight include the number of rounds from one to six, the enemy set which it has 3 pre-defined sets, the difficulty which again offers normal and hard, movement options which is just turning somersaults on or off and settings your jump and speed boost variables and finally customization of the enemies so you can choose what baddies you want to fight. The only guy that you can’t choose is the main boss though. The way the fight mode works is you have a set number of enemies per round.
I did make a video of a mayhem match just to give you an idea. There probably won’t be a lot of gameplay videos of this game due to the fact that basically the concept is the same, only the levels and enemies are different. Anyhow, check it out, I did a muscle gesture at the end as it reminded me of the matrix when Neo feels the power 🙂
Multiplayer is interesting, in my opinion. It can support up to 5 local players, which consists of 1 Kinect player, and 4 players using controllers. The controller players take control of the baddies so it could potentially make for some really challenging fights. The options are somewhat similar, although 2 levels are not available in this mode which are the Wild Forest and The Horde. You do get bonus items in this mode as well as magic powers, and your controller buds can choose from 8 different characters. Unfortunately, there is no battling online, but any multiplayer is better than none at all.
This is probably the most challenging mode. It will really test your stamina as you just fight endless waves of baddies. There are several different options to choose from, mainly who do you want to fight. The modes consist of The Horde, Darkness, Masked Warriors and Shadow Warriors. It’s a fight until you give up basically. The objective of the challenge is to get past round 21, but I was actually exhausted from this game so I didn’t get very far.
How To Play
How To Play offers you instructions on how to play the game. I like seeing this more and more in games in general, as they are putting the actual instruction books in the games themselves. They did make a little nicer as there are animated tutorials with voice explaining on what to do. There are 2 options in here, one is General Information which just lets you view the whole manual and the other is How To Play which skips right to the tutorial section.
Options include the normal items such as Kinect Tuner, Storage Device, Achievements, Credits and Settings. Under settings, there are a few more options which allow you to change the story difficulty from normal to hard, change your players voice to either male or female, turn the subtitles on or off and adjust the sound effects, music and ambience. There’s also a setting to Display Safe Zone which I’m not quite sure what it does, but it allows you to move the screen around.
This section does keep track of all of your stats, which it does break them up into 2 groups. The first group is your Xbox Live scores which has your total score, total enemies defeated and only Survival: Horde mode so you can compete with others for scoring.
The other section is your personal scores which just keeps track of your normal statistics (total scores and enemies defeated) and your story score based on the normal and hard difficulties.
The controls are pretty good for the most part. Actual fighting is fast however, the only problem I ran into is moving around. You do utilize your whole floorspace, but it just isn’t enough. There are enemies that you just want to wail on, but what happens is you keep moving in one direction as when you hit them, they are pushed back, so eventually you move out our play space. I noticed this as a real annoyance when fighting the baddies that get their life back. You have to consistently hit these guys in order to take them out. Moving out of the playspace gives them the chance they need to regain health so the battles take a lot longer than need be.
The other thing with moving around, is on the 2nd level I believe, you have to close the warehouse containers by power punching them. Moving from one side of the level to the other is just a tedious task, especially with somersaulting the whole way. You can do a forward somersault, but it doesn’t work nearly as much as backwards. After somersaulting about 20 times just to move to one side, it gets tiresome and loses the fun factor.
It does detect which direction you are facing as when you punch/kick, it does move a little bit forward automatically. I think it would have made more sense to turn sideways, and either walk or run in place to move around. Heck, even as I was playing, I realized Rise of Nightmare’s walking control scheme may have worked better as well. As for everything else, the controls are responsive and makes for the most part, an enjoyable Kinect experience.
Overall, as long as you understand this is a beat ’em up fighting game and not anything more or something else, it’s good for what it is. It’s fun and hilarious at first, but then it does get boring. If you are looking for deep content as seen in some of these other games, there’s not a lot of it but most beat ’em ups don’t have a lot anyway. You may replay the game once in a while but as for playing it everyday, only certain people will be able to. I gave it a 7 due to the movement issues, if you could move around more freely, it would have made for a more enjoyable experience.
The devs did a good job, but part of my own problem, is I became xbox loyal when the first one arrived and dumped Sony altogether, so I never played the first one with the eye-toy. This is a continuation of it and I have no idea about the background of the game so a lot of it didn’t make sense. Since this is a new game to most Kinect users, I would have thought the devs would have explained the story from the first one more. As for the future of this game, the story itself puts the famous “To Be Continued…” at the end, so time will tell when another one is released.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Kung-Fu High Impact
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