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Review: ‘Kung Fu Panda’

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Video games based on movies have a certain stigma attached to them.

Generally speaking, they’re not very good. Activision’s “Kung Fu Panda,” however, kicks that notion to the curb. With plenty of humor and solid gameplay, “Kung Fu Panda” proves that licensed games can be fun.

Based on DreamWorks Animation’s latest blockbuster, “Kung Fu Panda” lets gamers throw down with Po, Master Shifu and the Furious Five against Tai Lung and his minions.

The fighting system in place is pretty basic, with fast and strong attacks. Hitting different button combinations leads to more powerful attacks and each character has their own special moves. The combat is quick and fluid, and gamers of all ages and skill levels should have no trouble laying the smack down.

While fighting is at the heart of “Kung Fu Panda,” the game also contains elements of platforming, driving/flying and questing for hidden items. The mix of gameplay styles helps keep the action in “Kung Fu Panda” from growing stale. All in all, it’s a solid effort from developer Luxoflux.

While Jack Black, the star of the film, doesn’t provide the voice for Po in the game, his replacement did a superb job recreating the actor’s vision of the character. Some of the funniest dialogue occurs prior to each mission (there are around a dozen total), when Po gives a brief introduction of the events about to unfold. But there are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the course of the game, which stretches between 5-7 hours, depending on your skill level and your desire to complete all of the secondary missions.

Graphically, “Kung Fu Panda” looks great. The environments are beautiful and the character models for Po and the rest of the primary characters are fantastic. The only knock on the visuals is that there is little variety within the types of bad guys you encounter. All of the crocodiles you fight at Lotus Lake, for example, look alike. Granted, that’s a small gripe and does nothing to take away from the overall presentation. There are also some occasional camera issues, but those are not a major problem.

One thing that Xbox 360 users should be aware of is that achievments do not stack with “Kung Fu Panda.” If you want all of the achievements for completing individual levels at 100 percent, you’ll need to play through the game more than once.

Luckily, “Kung Fu Panda” is good enough that a second play through isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Score: 7.4/10