Until Kung Fu Live came along, I was ready to call 2001's Mo Cap Boxing the greatest video game related fitness/combat hybrid ever made. Then I went to PAX Prime and tried out Kung Fu Live at the request of one Job Stauffer. After checking his invite and determining that he wanted to give me sweet frozen dinners, I paid him a visit. What I got instead was a sweet fighting game that lets me indulge in all my nerdier fantasies. Here's why Kung Fu Live so great:
Use any style, use any weapon: Thanks to the magic of the motion capture technology, Kung Fu Live lets you star as the protagonist in a game that's part motion capture fighting game, part side scrolling beat 'em up, part chop socky Kung Fu movie and part comic book. Players can take on stock bad guys who come at them in waves, sort of like in Final Fight. Using the Playstation Eye though, the player can basically greenscreen themselves into the game (without a greenscreen, handily enough!) to punch, kick and headbutt their way to victory in any way they see fit as Kung Fu Live lets players use whatever fighting style they want. Some players may opt to use exaggerated karate chops, wild haymakers or even elegant roundhouse kicks (a bad idea, actually, more on that in a minute), while other players can choose to use standard punches and elbow strikes. As for me, I used my favorite looking martial art of all, Drunken Boxing (well, a bastard version that I based off the movies and probably wouldn't work in a real fight).
But you know what? It actually worked really well against the in-game enemies! And there's more to fighting off bad guys than just punching and kicking at them! Really creative gamers can use weapons against enemies! These weapons aren't found in-game though, so don't count on random drops! Weapons are chosen by the player! If you're holding a weapon while you scan yourself into the game, you'll find your weapon on your in-game avatar ready to go! So whether you've got a cheap plastic katana, a broomstick, a rolled up newspaper or a Buster Sword replica, you're good to go!
MK Moves: If complete freedom over what fighting style you can use and having your choice of weapon isn't enough of an arsenal for you, keep in mind that Kung Fu Live lets players use special moves too! Unlike the fighting styles and weapons, players can't choose their own moves, not that they'll be disappointed with the special moves that the game gives them. By making an "L" with your arms, you can shoot lightning, by reaching to the sky, you can stop enemies in their tracks, thrusting your arms outward lets you double punch the enemy and jumping and punching the floor unleashes an Earthquake attack that Goro Daimon would be proud of. If you haven't figured it out yet, Kung Fu Live gives you a lot of tools to be the hero you've always wanted to be. It's a good thing that players get so much freedom, because sooner or later, they'll face a very dark enemy, your own bros.
Friends can join in -- against you: Using any spare PS3 controllers you might have laying around, friends can take over any of the mooks/henchmen closing in on you. The henchmen don't get a lot of choices in the way of attacks, but friends can just assume control over the next available henchman the moment they become available.
You get a good work out: The reason I advise players against using overly flamboyant fighting moves is because there are a lot of bad guys in Kung Fu Live. Using nothing but roundhouse kicks and Shoryukens will leave players exhausted and gasping for air. Besides, you get a pretty good workout by just throwing regular garden variety bar brawling punches and working in a dragon kick or two. Just be sure not to trip!
You need to be careful with your moves and your weapons: Seriously, watch what you're doing when you play Kung Fu Live! How many times did you smack your brother, sister, mother, father or worse -- dear old grandma while you were pretending to be Bruce Lee or the Red Ranger? Make sure you have a lot of room and all your breakable objects tucked away, otherwise history will repeat itself.
Movement is tricky: That double punching maneuver I mentioned earlier? Well, if you're playing as yourself/the hero, then it's your only way of moving from left to right and it is VERY buggy. Expect to throw double fists in the air only to witness you/your avatar go absolutely nowhere. Thankfully, movement isn't often a problem and if it is, then the game will co-operate after the third try at most.
Kung Fu Live is a completely absurd, but completely awesome game. With something for everyone, Kung Fu Live is a game worth using or buying a Playstation Eye. Those who don't want to try it are probably just too afraid to laugh at themselves or too afraid to sweat a little, but they're the ones missing out on a chance to put their Karate Kid Crane Kick to the test.
Thumbs WAY up! Download Kung Fu Live immediately! Out of TOV 5 Stars, Kung Fu Live gets a mighty 4!