Ragdoll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic (PSN) Review
Posted by Armando Rodriguez on 05.07.2009
One thing that the Playstation 3 lacks are good local multiplayer titles. Yes, we have a lot of great online options, but what happens when you have friends over and they all want to play? Ragdoll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic fills that void quite nicely. Although the single-player component is a bit shallow, the multiplayer fun makes up for it.
Ragdoll Kung-Fu was developed by some of the same guys behind the awesome Little Big Planet and Sackboy appears as a hidden character in this game. The game uses a similar art-style focused on toys, in this case, plastic kung-fu action figures. The art direction is fantastic and I dare say this is one of the best-looking PSN titles. The animations are fluid and remind you that, yes; we are playing with plastic dolls. What makes all this great animation tick is the physics engine behind it. Anybody that has played Little Big Planet knows that physics is what separates that game from other platformers and the same stays true here. It feels floaty , yet natural for the type of character you are controlling. The sound is also great, a combination of oriental-style music and great sound effects. I especially enjoy the sound of plastic-on-plastic fisticuffs. The audio-visual experience is so great that you can almost feel the materials in your hand.
But what is the concept behind the game? Well, it is sort of like Smash Bros. Up to four players can compete locally in a variety of game modes that range from standard deathmatch to capture-the-fish, dodgeball and King of the Hill. The major differences from Smash is that you have a health bar instead of an arbitrary percentage system and that you do not need to knock somebody out of the level to kill him, you can just drain his health (although in some maps it is possible to throw them out of the level). Another difference is that every character has the same special moves: a fireball-style projectile attack, a “Firefly” punch that looks like a cross-screen version of the Dragon Punch and a slam-style attack. Every move is initiated by spending Chi (a second bar under your health bar) and shaking the controller like a maniac. I appreciate the effort of trying to do something with the SIXAXXIS motions, but it gets old after a while and there is no way to map that somewhere else. You gain Chi by whacking your opponents with your normal attacks and the more Chi you invest in the special moves, the more powerful they are. There are also a few weapons: Bo Stick, Nun-chuck and throwing stars and you can also toss any pot or box you can find. There is also health and chi power-ups and it is even possible to hurt opponents by throwing a healing item at them. Outside of the throwing stars, the other weapons are operated by moving the right-analog stick and is possible to do insane combos this way. The game variety is also a plus, with Dodgeball and Capture the Fish. In dodgeball there is a ball (what else) that you can use to toss at opponents and score points for knocking them out, while in Capture the Fish the objective is to toss a fish into a basket. The fish can be knocked around by your strikes, carried and even intercepted when you toss it, which makes for a hectic experience. It is possible to pass the fish to a teammate, which increases the fun.
However, there are two flaws that hurt the game. One is that there is no online multiplayer. If you don’t have many video-gaming friends that live nearby and have the requisite extra controllers, there is no fun for you. Yes, you can play with the AI in some modes, but it is not as fun. Second, the single-player experience is pretty shallow. You have a series of challenges you need to complete with different levels of accomplishment: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Plastic. By beating these challenges you unlock hidden characters and extra costume options you can customize characters with. All of the challenges are pretty fun and they take quite a bit of time to beat, but they feel like an extended training mode.
Ragdoll Kung-Fu is fantastic multiplayer fun. It is easy to learn and provides hours of fun…IF you have friends close by. However, if you have many PS3 owning friends close by and they love a good brawl, Ragdoll Kung-Fu is highly recommended.
Well-detailed characters, excellent animations and detailed environments make for a good looking game. Special moves could have used more sizzle.
Fast and furious fun. Excellent multiplayer component, but single-player is a bit shallow. Not having online hurts it as well.
The score fits the game well, being mostly oriental music inspired by Kung-Fu movies. The sound effects are also well done, especially the sound of plastic on plastic violence.
The short single player mode and lack of online multiplayer hurt the game drastically. However, if you have many PS3 owning friends living near by, feel free to boost that score to 8.0.
There is no doubt that this game is fun, is just that you need the right conditions (friends that live nearby) to make it work. The combat is simple, yet addictive and is not hurt at all by the lack of special moves.