Review: Kung Fu Strike : The Warrior’s Rise

With a roadhouse kick to the CPU, Kung Fu Strike : The Warrior’s Rise leapt onto Steam last month.  Now you can kick, chop and bicycle kick your way to revenge on your XBOX 360, as Kung Fu Strike has made it onto XBOX LIVE Arcade.  So how does the game fare?

Story

China is in the midst of a power struggle, numerous factions all vying for the top seat.  Amidst the turmoil, General Loh has taken on a quest to avenge the death of his father.  He also hopes to combat those rebelling against China, and turn control over to those who would respect the leadership of China, rather than let it slip into the hands of those that would wield it carelessly, like a child with his father’s gun.  As you move forward in your quest, you will use your knowledge of martial arts against numerous foes to avenge your father’s death and quench the rebel uprising.

Gameplay

Kung Fu Strike takes typical beat ’em up combat, and throws a little twist it’s way.  For starters, instead of the typical light/heavy attack button system, the game uses a melee attack button and an air attack button.  This changes the way that you can string combos and keep your strikes flowing.  Holding the melee attack button(X) continues the string of attacks and tapping the air attack button(A), at the right time, breaks an enemies’ block.  While attacking, you can circle your enemies, or free flow between multiple enemies.  Using the left trigger or ‘B’ button will block an incoming attack, and while this all sounds simple, it happens much more rapidly in-game.  Storing up Chi will allow you to unleash a power attack, dealing heavier damage.  The result is a combat system that draws similarities to that of the Batman Arkham Asylum franchise.  In between levels, you have the chance to use money earned to purchase new moves and special, powerup or stat-boosting items.  Further into the game, you will be able to summon other units to help you during combat.  All in all, there’s quite a bit to satiate your kung fu appetite for a mere 800 Microsoft points.  Keep in mind that there is a full co-op mode, allowing you and a friend to take on the entire campaign together.  If you can manage to finish the campaign, there is a Player versus Player mode to unlock and compete in.  As you can see from the screens, the stylized, cell-shaded graphics style looks fantastic.

The Verdict

I did compare the combat to the Batman:AA franchise, but I have to say that I found the combat in Kung Fu Strike a little less responsive, and wished that the ‘block’ button was actually a ‘counter’ button.  That being said, there was a really lengthy campaign to chew through, which provided a pretty steep challenge.  Even on the easier difficulties, I found myself having to pull back and rethink my strategies, making sure to carefully calculate each block and attack.  There is a lot, in the combat to keep you coming back.  It’s certainly not the ‘shut off your console and chuck the controller’ difficult, but it’s also not an arcade title that you will blow through in a single evening.  Sure, I think fans have faulted it for not having drop in drop out ease, for not having ‘true’ multiplayer, and for being more difficult than comparable XBLA titles.  I just don’t happen to agree with them; I think for a relatively inexpensive door charge, there is an all night party to be found in Kung Fu Strike.  I think the one complaint that I have heard, which I will agree with, is the sense of a disposable story.  The story plays out between levels in still images and scrolling text, and I did often find myself skipping through just to get to the store interface and then to a new menu.  I certainly had a lot of fun reviewing it, and I won’t be deleting it off of my cramped 360 hard drive anytime soon.  If you enjoy a good beat ’em up arcade game with a bit of a challenge to it, then look no further than Kung Fu Strike : The Warrior’s Rise.

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