Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise has more to offer than is immediately apparent, if you're willing to forgive its useless plot.
- Satisfying combat
- Robust multiplayer
- Varying difficulty
- Lots of moves and equipment.
- Forgettable plot
- Occasional slowdown.
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise does itself no favors. At a glance, it's nothing more than a mindless button masher, hastily cobbled together with a few light role-playing elements and some multiplayer modes, and then released as a downloadable game because there's not enough to it to justify a full retail release. If the game had an odor, it would smell like failure.
Give Kung Fu Strike a chance, though, and you might be surprised at how much better it gets. An experience that initially feels like Heavenly Sword with the interesting parts removed evolves slowly into a compelling brawler. It lacks the high production values of those other games, and offers little of the emotional punch, but in place of those elements you'll find surprisingly robust combat featuring a variety of special moves and a system that successfully eliminates the more immediate benefits of button mashing.
The story told in Kung Fu Strike is its weakest link. The tale revolves around a prince named Loh who is working to avenge a horrific betrayal of epic proportions. To do so, he wanders the lands in search of the one who orchestrated his downfall, which mostly means that he punches and kicks his way through one arena after another, fighting armies of thugs and occasionally a more lethal foe. Heavily inked story scenes reveal the bare-bones narrative, and then you can dive into the next of the game's 28 stages.
Combat begins simply enough. The brawny prince you control throughout the game is initially capable of executing only a few moves. He can hop and kick, or he can throw a weak punch or dole out a more extended flurry of punches. Defensively, it's possible to roll around or even deflect attacks, with the latter approach leading to all-out assault because it staggers foes and opens them up to follow-up attacks. Finally, as you take and deal damage, you build up a chi meter that allows you to unleash a powerful move in the direction of your choosing. The screen turns black and white and time slows to a crawl as you deal a devastating series of kicks, hopefully in time to avoid getting caught up in a similar attack that some of your more lethal adversaries aim your way. All of that should sound somewhat standard to someone who has played this sort of game, but there are complications that make it more interesting than is immediately obvious.
As you defeat foes, you sometimes knock loose restorative items and coins. The coins can then be used in a variety of ways, depending on how far you've progressed in the game. Early on, you can buy special moves or equipment. For instance, you might purchase a single-use item that automatically restores 200 hit points if you fall in battle, or a jacket that reduces the amount of damage you take when you run afoul of some explosives. There are also a host of character upgrades, including extensions to your life meter and new special moves that make you a more lethal force on the battlefield. However, equipment and skills aren't the only uses for your earnings. During battle, you can also find bugles (usually dropped by enemies or found in urns that you demolish). You can then call support troops onto the field, and they will serve as a welcome distraction so that you can more easily flank your foes. As you keep playing and clearing stages, the variety of troops you can summon increases.
Wow, that last sentence in the first paragraph, man. I'm sure you thought it was clever when you wrote it, but it actually needs another qualifier, so it would go, "If the game had an odor, and if failure was a scent, this game would smell like failure."
And everyone on earth knows that's no good.
Can't argue with this.
My attempt at being a gamz jarnalist:
"If games had a distinguishable odour besides that of the smoke or animal fur that usually emanate from the pre-owned cases, or the sweet, inky smell of the manuals that entice you to breathe in its goodness just once more (both of which are somewhat unlikely, considering this is an Xbox Arcade game), I imagine the miasma that would pervade from this particular title would be that of failure; a scent that I suggest would probably smell quite similar to the aforementioned smoke or animal musk."
For some reason, the art style reminds me terribly of Street Fighter IV's ink splotch optics. Makes for a horrible first impression when you're thinking "hm, looks like SFIV, only in ugly".