EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
Is it just me or does it seem like fighting games for the PC are in short supply? Sure, we have quite a few ports of big name titles. Most of them are even pretty good, thankfully. But as far as home grown and tailored fighting games for the PC, it really seems like we're out in the cold. Maybe this new title peeking its head up on Steam's Early Access program may begin to bring the idea of the fighting game to lean further towards the PC crowd as more than an after thought.
Kings of Kung Fu puts everything it is about on the table right from the start. It doesn't lure you in with an interesting name, it decides to let the game speak right for itself. Inspired heavily by old Kung Fu movies and their stars, Jae Lee Productions has baited the hook for fans of greats from Lee to Chan and all the way to Van Damme to at least look their way. I certainly found myself eager to see how it would stand up against all the other fighters out there, especially as one being built for the PC rather than being ported over.
Not So Quiet On The Set
The first thing I did was head straight for the arcade mode to not only practice, but see exactly how the story was or whether there even was one to speak of. In the current state of the game, there are eight playable characters each with their own fighting style using a mix of authentic styles with the over the top flair we love in kung fu cinema and fighting games.
The story itself comes as quickly as it goes, with a well drawn opening scene establishing the reason for all the throwdowns about to get underway. A fighter calling himself Red Ronin has called out all of his counterparts on the set of a new kung fu movie, and... they all responded to that call, apparently. It's as blunt and to the point as the name of the game itself. The whole reason for this impromptu tournament isn't for the fate of the world or the funds of some crazed billionaire, but merely for bragging rights on a movie set and the lead role in the movie itself. Luckily, that's enough motivation for me to get into the fighting mood so I'll let that slide; I just want to battle.
Control wise, the game currently feels a bit stiff. It's definitely playable, the fights are very entertaining, but in terms of appeal the stiffness holds the title back from the same level of other games in the genre. I'm hoping to see this change over time to a point where the combat is fluid enough to flush out a faster paced experience rather than a case of slow hit exchanges. Other than that, I really enjoyed the way this game handles itself. An old school film filter, well placed and not too grainy, gives off that nostalgic feel of martial arts movies from the 80's and earlier. The different sets you fight your opponents on each feel like they're straight out of some of the classics, and even some out of the more obscure films in the genre. They fit the feel of the game very well, and even though they are static rather than interactive they serve their purpose as well rounded backdrops for the fights.
Other than the stiff controls, my largest complaint is the length of the arcade mode itself. Because there are currently only eight fighters, you can go through them rather quickly before you get to Red Ronin and he just isn't a hard enough boss to drag out the length of the game either. Granted, fighting games aren't exactly known for the length of their story modes, but 23 minutes on the normal difficulty still seems very short to me. Keep in mind, mileage may vary. If you're bad at fighting games, it could take longer. If you're amazing at them, well, I won't be surprised to see completions in 10 minutes or less with the current build.
Which brings us to multiplayer. The backbone of any fighting game is the multiplayer, right? In this day and age, that's often in the form of online play. Well, I have good news and bad news. If you want to invite someone over for some adversarial play, that's a valid option. However, if you're looking for an online experience, that's not in the cards as of yet. That's not to say that it won't be coming down the line, but who knows exactly how long that will be.
The game has promise, and a lot of it. However, right now it feels as bare bones as possible in this stage of Early Access. The developers are doing a good job of keeping customers in the loop however, recently unveiling previews of four new additional fights and in a thank you message to the consumers the promise of a road map for development in the coming days. Right now I'd suggest keeping an eye on it from a distance before jumping in. If the development keeps going smoothly, it'd be better to start considering a purchase a few months from now.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.