|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tarsier Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCE (Sony)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 09, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Based on the original 2005 indie PC title, Rag Doll Kung Fu, created by Mark Healey (co-founder of Media Molecule), Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic is a PS3 exclusive, party-fighting game thats incredibly long on charm but a bit too short on content. As a party game, the download relies heavily upon consumers getting together with friends to make the most of the title. While local multiplayer in any game is always the most fun, it is often difficult to make it happen at a moments notice.
Unfortunately, online multiplayer via the PlayStation Network is not an option in Fists of Plastic. Moreover, the single-player offering is less than stellar, rendering this title a bit underwhelming. That being said, this is still one of my favorite titles available via the PSN. The awesome visual and aural presentations along with varied game modes and shriek-inducing local multiplayer matches make this a great option for get-togethers around the PS3.
The core gameplay of the original Rag Doll Kung Fu is still found in Fists of Plastic. Players take control of a pose-able, wushu-themed action figure. Fights take place against other opponents in a stage-like setting. Taking advantage of platforms and foreign objects, the gameplay has a striking similarity to that found in the Super Smash Bros. series. The fighters all have the same moves and the same abilities, however, so you wont have to fight over certain characters. Moves include standard punching and kicking, grabs (accentuated by motion controls for pulling off slams), and throws. There are also objects that can be used as weapons by free-posing your character like a marionette. Additionally, you can charge a lightning attack by shaking the controller and throwing the electric ball at your opponents. You can also charge up Firefly attacks, consuming Chi energy, that pack a more serious wallop.
Also, blocking attacks with the Circle button is a very important skill to perfect, as is evading players and repositioning your character by platforming. Characters can all jump a long way and are able to grab a hold of the platforms they pass by. Doing so will allow you to swing your way to better positions or to bash a player directly with a swinging attack. All of these moves are easily performed through the common sense layout of the control mapping; it takes only about 10-20 minutes to fight competently, and mastering all of the varied attacks and skills is achieved in less than an hour.
Motion controls are typically a sore spot for me, especially when theyre employed by PS3 titles. Thankfully, the motion controls in Fists of Plastic are rather unobtrusive; they are used sparingly to heighten standard attacks with Chi, so theyre never over-used. Still, shaking the controller can get a bit annoying whilst conjuring up lightning balls and slamming opponents, and they may turn off players with a serious aversion to motion-controls.
Other mechanics include a health bar and Chi meter that indicate how much life your character has left and how much energy can be used to power-up attacks. Using Chi proves to be very important in dealing with opponents quickly (as it makes your attacks more powerful) and for accruing lots of points in the Challenges mode. Chi can also be converted to health by meditating (flipping the PS3 wireless controller upside down and entering a floating lotus position). Acquiring Chi is done by successfully pounding on your foes the more plastic you kick, the more power youll accumulate. Health and Chi can also be augmented by noodle drops and Confucius statuettes, respectively.
Game modes include local multiplayer and a single-player Challenges option. Local multiplayer is the most engaging portion of the title. Up to four players can hop into a game. You can choose from one of eight stages and one of four game objectives. All of the stages are pretty to look at, but they are very simply laid out. In fact, the only stage that seems to shake things up is that of the Windmill, which has spinning arms that allow you to grab on and go for a ride. Otherwise, simply the look, height, and the amount of platforms is what varies.