Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic review

Sony tries to revive the cult favorite, Rag Doll Kung Fu, game for a new market, as a Playstation Network title for Playstation 3. Whether you payed for the game when it released, or got it while it was free, was the download worth it? Let's take a look!

While fighting games are never really known for their storylines, it should be noted that Rag Doll Kung Fu doesn't even have one to begin with. You have your five, generic, and forgetable rag doll characters, and they fight; there's not much more to it. To me, that aspect of having no connection to the characters in terms of who they are, or their world makes the game very uninteresting.

Based on looks alone, Fists of Fury reminds me a lot of Super Smash Bros., especially in terms of map layout and on screen display, but the similarities end there. There is no single player modes to the game other than the "Challenges" mode, which are more of a tutorial than anything else. Otherwise you can play the four different multiplayer modes with bots. Such modes include Deathmatch, in which you set lives and whoever's health runs out first ... you get the idea. There's also a "capture the flag" like mode in which you must place a fish in a basket, and there's King of the Hill as well.

The controls are pretty simple too, with all actions controls via the face button and left analog stick, with occasional weapns controlled via the right stick. There's even some Sixaxis controls as well; they fell unnecessary at times, but when they work, the effects are pretty neat. And along with the game being simple control-wise, it's also extremely empty. Besides the multiplayer game, and "challenges", ... that's it. There isn't even an online competitive mode, which you think would be a standard feature fora fighting game this generation, especially in a PSN title from Sony themselves. There's also Trophy support, but chances are you'll only get a few before you stop caring about the game.

This to me was really the only place where Rag Doll Kung Fu really stood out. The characters and environments are rendered out very nicely and the bloom lighting and shine effects on the characters really give off the effect of little toys fighting each other. However, there are only five or so characters in the game, and the "custom character" option only lets you mix and match parts of said characters, so while the graphics may look nice, you're also stuck seeing the same parts and animations, and that's never fun.

This aspect I can see as the most argued, because music is a little more subjective than graphics and gameplay. If you dig the hip-hop sound mixed with traditional Asian instruments and vocals, it's pretty enjoyable for what it's worth. But if hip-hop or Asian style music isn't your thing, you may want to low the volume. Character wise, there aren't sounds to tell the already generic characters apart, so in the end, playing the game on mute may not make a difference in the experience.

Final Thoughts
I'm interested to know why Sony decided they needed to make a new version of Rag Doll Kung Fu ... and completely ignore all the features of their system. That really is the most disappointing aspect of this game, is the fact that not only is the gameplay and character selection bland, but there isn't even any online interaction, which is inexcusable for a first-party title, and a fighting one at that, nearly three years into the system's life. Hopefully that issue can be patched at a later date, but I'm glad this was available for free when I got it, because if I payed for this I would be even further dissapointed.

Overall Score: 5.5/10

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