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Kung Fu Chaos

Developer: Just Add Monsters | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 02/24/03 | Genre: Fighting

Kung Fu Chaos has been a long time coming for the Xbox. The game was shown last year at E3 as a major title for the system and seemed to be getting all the backing a game could ask for. Hyped as “the next big thingâ€? on the Xbox, the game has finally arrived on retail shelves. So, is this a martial arts masterpiece that deserves a hallowed spot in your collection? Or is it the next game you’ll use as a Frisbee with your dog?

The answer, actually, lies somewhere in the vast terrain between the two extremes. The core gameplay revolves around frantic fighting as you pummel opponents in various stages. Your ultimate goal is to win the leading role in director Ting’s upcoming action flick. The cast of the game is widely varied and plays on many Hollywood clichés. You’ll pick your character and battle on several different movie sets in your quest to become the hero. While the main idea is to beat out your enemies, you can go for different objectives such as fighting with the most style to win. This gives the game a little bit of depth that may hold your interest for a bit.

Each character has his or her own set of combos and special taunts. Making use of these is a must if you hope to advance, but don’t worry, it’s not hard to learn. Your movements are limited to a light attack, a heavy attack, grab, and jumping. Well, you can also block using the right trigger, and taunt using the left, but blocking isn’t too important if you’ve got those combos down pat. By decimating your foes and taunting them, you’ll earn stars. When you earn three stars your character can perform a devastating special attack. I found that these attacks were one of the better elements in the game. They were funny, and some are just downright vicious.

The graphics in the game are pretty nice, but stop short of the jaw-dropping visuals we’ve seen in other Xbox games. The goofy character designs may not appeal to everyone, but most gamers will be able to appreciate the environments and backgrounds found in the game. The “Jurassic Parkâ€? stage features lush jungles and some cool water effects. However, these backgrounds aren’t just for show. The stages are littered with obstacles that you must watch out for as you fight your opponents. These obstacles are sometimes unexpected, which makes them difficult to dodge, but others you’ll see coming from a mile away. One thing that’s important to note is that while these traps add a new element to the game, the sometimes sloppy camera can severely affect the way you feel about them. It’s fun to try and dodge things when you can see them properly, but at times you’ll just get frustrated because an object comes from totally out of the blue and floors you due to a shoddy camera angle.

The sound in the game is fairly well done. The Kung Fu Fighting song fits the mood and theme of the game perfectly, and the director will never hesitate to let you know just how bad you suck. The game also supports custom soundtracks, so if you get tired of the game’s music, just jam with some of your own. Actually, I’ve found that it’s pretty darn funny to use a classical music soundtrack with this game; I recommend giving this a try just for laughs if you haven’t done so already.

Strangely enough, the 4 player mode of the game is where you run into some of the major problems. For a party game, this spells bad news. Things get entirely too complicated and unfunny when you’ve got four characters on screen with obstacles flying left and right and a bad camera angle to boot. I know, it sounds hectic, and it is, but not in the fun kind of way. More often than not you and your cronies will be wondering what the hell just happened rather than enjoying the game. It’s incredibly difficult to keep an eye on your character when things get going in this mode, and when you can’t keep your head straight, you can’t play the game very well. Also, those new to the game will be beaten sorely by those who know all about the “knock down, taunt, special move, repeatâ€? pattern.

Kung Fu Chaos may be fun at first, but it soon grows repetitious and boring. If there was more depth here, it would be a fairly good game, but it’s as shallow as the puddle you stepped in on your way to the deli this morning. The single player mode is by far the game’s biggest asset, so if you’re in the mood for a quirky title and a few laughs, I’d suggest renting this game. If you decide that you just have to have the game, then go out and buy it, but the large majority of players will probably be glad they kept their fifty bones.

By Ryan Schaefer - 03/29/03
ESRB Details: Blood, Mature Humor, Mild Language, Violence

Screenshots for Kung Fu Chaos

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