Everybody is Kung Fu Panda-ing

Animals and Martial Arts: if ever there was a winning combination, then after Dalglish and Rush, Torvill and Dean, Fish and Chips, Salt and Vinegar, Fleming and McEnroe, Spud and Beans, Tea and Toast – right, so there’s a vast pool of combinations that are effortlessly better than Animals and Martial Arts, but those other combos aren’t about to become action-packed video game adventures like Luxoflux’s Kung Fu Panda is. We spent a week chewing bamboo; here’s what we learned.

If epic and action-packed adventures are your gaming Nirvana, and if throwing in a touch of Kung-Fu fighting (everybody is) is like receiving a visit from Aphrodite herself, then Kung-Fu Panda is what you need. Po the Panda is the hero (with awesome moves like the Panda Quake and Iron Belly Blast), accompanied by his teacher Shifu (incredibly quick and agile, he’s the master), and the legendary Furious Five; Monkey (the acrobat), Tigress (all feline strength and grace), Viper (the stealthy one, watch out for the Choking Coil), Mantis (small, but supremely strong), and Crane (the flying, gliding, swooping, air-borne assassin).

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Po’s destiny is to become the Dragon Warrior and you’ll need to master many fighting styles to get there. Along the way you’ll meet hard nuts like the Great Gorilla and the Wolf Sergeant, and you’ll need to have mastered not just Po’s but also the other character’s styles to progress.

There’re 13 levels (which is going to be unlucky for some, just make sure it’s not you) to battle through, incorporating stuff from the movie and beyond. You’ll be fighting across land, sea and air in an attempt to become the Dragon Warrior and defeat the toughest enemy of all, Tai Lung. You’d think that’d stop him breathing, but anyway. Loads of deadly foes will stand in your way, along with nasty obstacles, puzzles and the environments themselves.

We’re promised a bit of a knockabout game with a load of humour, but as ever with games we’re not convinced. Kung Fu Panda’s humour won’t appeal to everyone and it’s likely that it will more easily appeal to the younger PS3 owners. As the mental age of TSA staff is approaching 10, we’ll love it.

Co-op and competitive multiplayer is available to suit everyone, with a variety of modes. Head-to-head battles across many different arenas gives you the chance to tan the hide of your friends, while the co-op games allow you to work together in a series of unique challenges. Co-op is where it’s at, if only because Alex’s superior play always masks my somewhat less skillful approach.

There’ll also be a load of collectibles for the anal amongst us, and tonnes of character upgrades. Even more content comes in the shape of offerings from Dreamworks and Activision, based on the film, and exclusive stuff just for the game: get ready to catch a glimpse of some bad-ass Ninja cats!

Kung Fu Panda – catch it, later this year.

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