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The animated movie Kung Fu Panda - which appeared during 2008 - was a success in box offices, so it made sense to follow that up with a game. In June 2008, Activision released a game also called Kung Fu Panda, hoping it would also be well received. Games made from movies usually go one of two directions; they either are exceedingly good or exceedingly bad. If the film is not well received, the failure of the game is not as noticeable perhaps. But if the film is fairly successful, the game better be done right too. The question that naturally arises therefore is which category this particular game falls into. Lets take a look at its various aspects of the game to help you decide.
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The storyline of the game seems to follow the film's somewhat. Although I have not seen the film, I understand the general idea enough to say the two are close. The basic premise is that Po - an overweight and clumsy panda bear - dreams of being considered the best martial artist, despite the fact that he has never been trained in any way. A new Dragon Warrior is to be chosen from a group of masters known as The Furious Five, and Po wants to see who it will be. So through a series of clumsy accidents and mishaps, Po lands in front of The Furious Five and is mistakenly chosen by a tortoise named Master Oogway as the next Dragon Warrior. The Furious Five's master, Master Shifu is then forced to begin training Po in the ways of martial arts and Po's journey begins.
The humor and voice of Jack Black as Po is very evident in the game, much as it was in the film. There are definite points where you may need to pause the game due to your own laughter, as its entertaining to both kids and adults. While I can't answer whether it follows exactly along with the film, the storyline here is well written, make sense and keeps you grinning throughout.
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There are two different modes of gameplay with this particular title. There is a single player mode, where you walk through the storyline as Po. And then there's the multiplayer mode, where you can play as Po or one of the other members of The Furious Five - once you unlock their characters of course.
On the whole, the controls and gameplay are standard for this type of game. There are combos you can learn, new abilities you gain as you work through the single player story, and the enemies become harder with each new level. This in no way means the game is dull, but just that there is very few new things introduced here. Po becomes reminiscent of Sonic in fact, when he rolls up into a ball to move quickly through terrain and enemies.
Po seems a bit powerful for a novice martial artist, and this becomes too clear during the multiplayer mode where Po is almost too powerful. Each of The Furious Five have their own style, but Po seems just a little bit too capable by comparison. Despite this, the game is still very enjoyable from a gameplay standpoint.
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Visuals and Sound
The graphics in the game are well done, but thats to be expected from an animated movie-game. There are definitely moments however, when the visuals are beautiful (such as when you have to do some cloud jumping using Master Shifu). The voice acting is performed by the same people as in the movie, which really helps tie the two together. I can't imagine how bad it would have been had they not kept Jack Black's sense of humor and charisma, but it definitely would have been a mistake.
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All in all, this game is definitely entertaining and a worthy followup to an evidently successful film. The multiplayer aspect allows for plenty of replayability, which is nice. And while the gameplay isn't innovative, its still enjoyable on the whole. The voice acting is right in line with the film, and that helps for those who are a fan. Those who haven't seen the film won't be lost either, as the storyline is easy to follow and fun. So the final determination is that this is a definite must for your gaming library. You won't find this game dull anytime soon.