It's funny how things work. Amidst all the fuss Sony has made over its PlayStation Move peripheral and how different it is from Microsoft's Kinect device, along comes the Virtual Air Guitar Company with PlayStation Network title Kung-Fu Live, with the promise of delivering a controller-free experience.
I highly doubt Sony is complaining though, as the ability to have yourself beamed into a virtual game using the PlayStation Eye camera can only work as another counter to the Xbox 360's upcoming platform. Kung-Fu Live
works a little bit differently though, using the Finnish developer's own internal FreeMotion Technology to trace your body and copy-paste what the Eye sees into the game as an interactive 'sprite'.
The result is a little bit janky, as you're essentially playing as a cardboard cutout of yourself, but it doesn't matter as Kung-Fu Live
has clearly been built for shameless party fun.
As the name suggests, you play as a living-room fighter, engaging in combat with countless CGI enemies ranging from Chinese mafia goons to gigantic bridge-defending trolls. Cue a ridiculous amount of flailing to get your fistful of diplomacy across.
Swing a punch, and you'll throw a punch. Kick, and you'll kick. You get the general idea – any movement that hits the enemy with any kind of 'force' will deal damage to them, meaning you can use your imagination and even try flinging yourself around the screen. If you have the space to do it, that is.
Everyday items from the house can be picked up and used as a weapon as well, although throwing them won't be very effective – I chucked a foam stick to the side of the screen and ended up almost attacking one of the poor PR people.
You also can't block incoming attacks – you have to rely on your amazing ninja-esque evasion skills. Luckily, you have quite a few special moves at your disposal, the most obvious one being a super jump that allows your character to vault over your opponents. To perform that, you need to jump to the side with arms and legs stretched, like a star hop. Whilst in the air, you can make a fist motion to do a ground pound.
There's also a power punch, which is actioned by getting down on one knee and pushing both arms out to the side, and a lightning strike that works when you balance yourself on one leg. Each of these moves use up Chi, which is gained by beating down on enemies the old fashioned way.
I didn't see much of the modes on offer during my demo play, although I'm told there will be a pretty lengthy story mode with a swish Marvel-esque presentation. The comic book-style cutscenes can be edited to feature your good self in various compromising poses too, replacing the role of the hero and various other characters. These comic pages can then be sent to friends via the XMB.
For the people who Kung-Fu solo, the game comes with a Mayhem Designer, so you can build your own battles by tweaking difficulty settings and enemy behaviour for custom matches.
By far the most interesting element of Kung-Fu Live
is in the multiplayer mode. The Eye can only register one player at a time, but up to four other players can pick up a DualShock controller and play as hardened city thugs while a fifth faffs about on camera performing all kinds of tricks to stay alive.
As I mentioned before, the collision detection is a bit iffy and the movement isn't exactly fluid, but grab several mates and try this out with some Christmas beers and you'll have a blast, no doubt.
Seems perfect for a downloadable PlayStation Network title, then. But of course, it all comes down to the price and whether it's got value for money at the end of the day. We won't know until Kung-Fu Live
hits the PS3 as I wasn't told a concrete release date or price. For some holiday throwaway fun, this might be worth a look.