Review | 7/23/2009 at 5:15 PM

Kung Fu Panda Co-Op Review


Kung Fu Panda was not a must-buy for Xbox owners, but if you bought an Xbox 360 this past spring, it's very likely that you got stuck with a copy anyway. Is there any better way to grab some Achievements than by spinning through a co-op children's game on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Answer: yes, there is.

Kung Fu Panda has several things working against it. For starters, it's a licensed game based on a movie; doubly bad: it's a children's movie. Granted, it was a good movie in my opinion, but nonetheless a children's movie. If you manage to overcome that fact, then you might be further disappointed to find that the game does not feature online multiplayer support, despite having several four-player modes in shared screen format...a seemingly perfect mold for casual online play. At this point, you've probably written the game off. But to those of us that had enough patience to give it a try, the secrets of Kung Fu Panda's simple gameplay and overall fun were enough to placate boredom, and provided a chuckle or three.

Different main characters are playable in multiplayer.

The single-player campaign is where Kung Fu Panda's real value lies, which is a shame because we'd have a more positive review score if single-player was our thing. Unfortunately for this well-meant and decently funny game, our craving for co-op was left unsatiated. Multiplayer in Kung Fu Panda is set up as sort of a party game, forgoing online connectivity and intricate gameplay in favor of simplicity and a shared screen. Each of the multiplayer modes -- which consist of a memory-tiles game, a versus brawl match, and more -- are featured on two or three arenas unique to that type of game. Co-op is sadly treated the same; rather than being its own entity, the co-op was lumped in with the competitive mini-games, presumably to give some relief to gamers who are tired of beating the snot out of each other. 

In the game's co-op mode, the objective is to basically survive waves of enemies. The best defense is a good offense, especially in Kung Fu will find yourself fighting, fighting, fighting to keep on your feet and out of the corner. Co-op in this game is definitely a tough affair, throwing so many enemies at your entourage that if you can see what's going on in the arena, you won't last very long unless you're a pro Kung Fu Panda player. Ironically, having difficult and frustrating co-op in a game that panders to the casual crowd is a good way to misrepresent the great co-op experiences to be had elsewhere.

The co-op survival mode is playable without co-op partners...lame.

You have several options of characters to play as in multiplayer, all of them voiced by the original actors and with their own attacks. This helps to break up the monotony of punch-punch-punch-special move-overwhelmed-die, but not for long.

While Kung Fu Panda is a lighthearted, fun game that's good for a casual afternoon that requires no lengthy, committed gaming sessions...the co-op is a huge letdown. The gameplay itself isn't so bad, if you ever get a chance to properly use the combos and special moves that the game affords your fat panda. If you got the game with your Xbox 360, it's worth a try to get the Achievements; however, the PlayStation 3 version has nothing extra going for it in terms of co-op.