Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon Review

The real Bruce Lee was never this sloppy.

Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon isn't based on any specific film starring Bruce Lee. In fact, the game doesn't even seem to be based on the martial arts legend himself, because the real Bruce Lee was never this sloppy. Quest of the Dragon's problems start with a poorly executed fighting engine that initially seems to offer some depth with its surprisingly long list of different moves, but as you'll find, most of these combinations are entirely useless. The flaws in the game are topped off with some mediocre graphics, a horrible soundtrack, bad voice acting, and a ridiculous number of loading times.

Bruce Lee probably wouldn't approve of this game.
Bruce Lee probably wouldn't approve of this game.

The game begins with Bruce Lee entering his training facility, only to find that it's completely empty (much like most of the environments in the rest of the game, actually) and that a certain special relic has been stolen. Bruce Lee's teacher explains that all this was the work of the Black Lotus gang, which has also kidnapped Lee's father. Eventually, you'll learn of a greater plot that involves plans to create an army of supersoldiers. The basic storyline isn't all that bad considering that the premises used for many of Bruce Lee's films were just as absurd, but it unfolds through a series of real-time cutscenes filled with poorly constructed character models and equally poor voice acting.

As for the structure of the game itself, each level in Quest of the Dragon contains several different sections where Bruce Lee will have to fight groups of thugs. While most of these sections simply involve basic fighting, others have special objectives, which will be shown to you on the screen. For example, there is a time attack section that rewards you for beating up all of the enemies within a specified time limit, and there's another section where Bruce Lee will have to exhibit his nunchaku skills. Most levels end with one-on-one boss fights with an enemy character that has just as many moves as Bruce Lee. Upon completing a level, you'll have the opportunity to buy new moves or added health and strength, depending on how many coins--which are dropped by defeated enemies--you collected throughout the level.

There are several problems with the way the game works. One of them is the obscene number of load times. It not only takes a relatively long time for the game to load a level, but there are also small loading pauses at the end of each fighting section, which is ridiculous considering the amount of time it takes to load the level in the first place, the fact that the fighting tends to be so repetitive, and the fact that this is the Xbox, after all. At the end of each level, the game takes 10 or so seconds just to load up a menu with the Bruce Lee model in the background. Another problem is that levels have been designed so that you're restricted to a single path, so even though it looks like you can roam around an open area, you actually can't. This becomes a problem in some of the early levels because there's no clear indication of where you're supposed to go next, which frequently leaves you running up against an invisible wall, looking for the "entrance" to the next path.

The fighting system in Quest of the Dragon could have been solid had the controls been a little more responsive. As they are, it can be quite difficult to pull off some of Lee's more advanced moves, so you'll find yourself just using his basic punch and kick combinations, which is fine because the enemy artificial intelligence (even for boss characters) can't even really defend against them, let alone against Lee's special moves. In addition, as you purchase more strength points, you can take out a majority of the enemies in the game with a single punch, removing the need for special moves entirely.

In fact, the enemy AI is truly what makes Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon so unappealing. Some of the lesser enemies will trap themselves up against a wall, while others will just remain standing outside of the invisible barrier that prevents you from reaching them. You'll have to stand still and wait for them to come to you. The boss battles are the worst offenders, though, as every single one of the game's bosses can be beaten using a two-sweep punch combination, which is pretty much all you can do anyway since for some inexplicable reason bosses like to crouch throughout most of the fight.

The graphics in Quest of the Dragon leave much to be desired, though there are occasionally some nice special effects, such as the fog in the Alcatraz level. However, effects like that are seen only in the early levels of the game. Later environments are filled with low-resolution textures and drab colors. The lighting in the game is a joke, because the same generic lighting effect (with an occasional change in color) is used throughout the entire game. Even when you're fighting on a dance floor with dozens of flashing color lights all around, the game will display only this one blue-tinted ambient lighting effect.

The character model for Bruce Lee is fine, but the rest of the models in the game have very low polygon counts and horribly designed facial features, and they generally just lack the detail you would expect from a game running on the Xbox. There's also a substantial amount of clipping in the game, with hair and clothes flowing right through various parts of the body. As far as animation is concerned, it's clear that the development team used motion capture, and not to good effect, because there are some moves that aren't synched correctly. For example, you'll see some enemies go flying through the air even though Bruce's kick was two or three feet away from making contact. Moreover, the transition between some moves can be quite choppy.

Numerous flaws abound. Stay away from this one.
Numerous flaws abound. Stay away from this one.

As previously mentioned, the quality of the music and sound is terrible. There seem to be only a few music tracks throughout the entire game, and none of them are any good. With the exception of Bruce Lee's voice actor (who does an OK job at least in the cutscenes), the voice actors for the characters in the game give poor performances, though you'll hear some classic lines such as "Come on, jive turkey." So unless you want to hear a Bruce Lee impersonator scream like a chicken repeatedly, you'll be better off turning down the sound levels.

All told, Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon is a mess. The loading times are horrible, the fighting system is boring and poorly executed, the controls are sluggish, and the graphics are mediocre at best. If that isn't enough to prevent you from buying the game, know that it takes only a little under four hours to beat it all the way through, and at that point your only reward is a one-on-one fighting mode that merely draws out this incredibly bad experience.

The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

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Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon

First Released Jul 1, 2002
  • Xbox

The real Bruce Lee was never this sloppy.


Average Rating

388 Rating(s)

Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Suggestive Themes, Violence