Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic Review for PS3

Platform: PS3 Check Price
The origins of LBP are clear to see
The origins of LBP are clear to see

The origins of LBP are clear to see

"Imagine having a kung fu fight with string puppets, except you don’t have to worry about getting the strings tangled up, and you don’t have to have a kung fu fight."

So said Mark Healey, the brains behind Rag Doll Kung Fu, a physics-based brawler out now for the PSN. Don't know who Mark Healey is? Shame on you. He's co-founder and creative director of Guildford-based Media Molecule, the developer behind defining PS3 title LittleBigPlanet. You know, the game with Sackboy in it.

That quote up there at the top of the page was Mark's pitch for the original Rag Doll Kung Fu, which he made in his spare time as a designer at Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios (Fable II). It was released on PC in late 2005 as the first third-party game on Valve's all-conquering download service Steam, and made quite a splash among hardcore PC gamers to boot. Now, nearly four years later, it's been re-jigged by little-known Swedish developer Tarsier Studios to work with a Sixaxis pad, and given a sub title: Fists of Plastic.

It's an interesting experience playing Rag Doll Kung Fu in 2009. It feels so much like LittleBigPlanet it's almost unreal. Of course this betrays the fact that the game came out on PC way before MM's game, but the reality is more people will be exposed to and interested in it now LBP exists. Healey's work on the game clearly laid the groundwork for LBP: the controls are almost identical, and the stereotypical martial artists fling themselves about the eight Chinese-themed stages like Sackboys clinging on to rockets for dear life. The floaty jumping, ledge hanging with R1 and cute, almost hyper-real art style is instantly familiar. Yes, there's more of a focus on brawling, with a button each for punching and kicking, and even special moves triggered with flicks of the Sixaxis pad, but blink and you'd be forgiven for thinking Rag Doll Kung Fu nothing more than a Super Smash Bros. Brawl-themed user-generated LBP level.

Played with friends, it's a blast. On your own though, it's boring.

Played with friends, it's a blast. On your own though, it's boring.

Which is the big problem, really. The game's so slight on features and modes that its £7.99 price tag can't be justified. There are eight stages, as mentioned, and four game modes, Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Fish and Dodgeball, all for up to four players. Deathmatch does what it says on the tin, as does King of the Hill (holding L2 and R2 and swinging your character's arms with the thumb sticks while standing on the hill increases your score multiplier, and takes the piss). Capture the Fish sees you grabbing a fish and chucking it into a basket, and Dodgeball sees you grabbing a blue ball and taking rival players out with it (you can generate one of your own by shaking the Sixaxis, then let fly by pressing the square button, one of the Chi-powered special moves).

They're all fun when played with friends, but on your own you'll quickly grow bored playing bots, a feeling that's made worse by the inexplicable absence of online play, a feature promised in all the pre-release promotional material. The game's eight single-player challenges, while fleetingly amusing (Acrobatics, which asks you to swing from platform to platform without touching the ground with your feet, offers alternative, "in the zone" fun in the same way that Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2's Pacifism mode does), don't come close to making up for the lack of online play, despite the inclusion of leaderboards. Neither does dressing up your character in unlocked clothing.

Put simply, if you reckon it'll be a rare occasion indeed when you'll be in a position to play the game locally with friends, it's not worth getting. There's depth to the combat system, in that there are weapons and special moves to master, and a rudimentary combo system, but on the whole the game's best played in a throwaway fashion, with friends button bashing as they down beers. Ultimately, Rag Doll Kung Fu comes across as something of a tech demo, the kind of thing you might expect Healey and co showed to Sony executives when trying to get LBP off the ground.

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's Avatar

I decided to download the PC demo yesterday, and the control scheme really made me think I didn't want the full PC version. I decided to get the PS3 version since everyone said the controls were different. Well, this game ROCKS! All but 1 of the multiplayer modes can be played single player using AI opponents. I read bad reviews of the PS3 game Pain, and love that game...so when I read the bad reviews of RDKF Fists of Plastic, I took it with a grain of salt. And I'm glad I did! The Toss the Fish mode is like Kung Fu Basketball, I love it! Think of this game as a cross between Pain, LittleBigPlanet, and Super Smash Bros. A lot of elements were taken from Super Smash Bros, but it has it's own play modes that set it apart. Keep in mind I've yet to play with another player, I'm just talking about single player stuff. There are trophies, and unlockable character customizations to keep single player going for a while. Multiplayer should be a blast, I DO wish there were online play though. The lack of online play, and the difficulty of a few of the moves are the only things I dislike about this game. I think it's MORE than worth $9.99. If there are add ons, I will DEFINITELY get them. I don't know who will like this game and who won't, but I personally see myself spending a lot of time playing it. I would give the game an 8 out of 10.
Posted 15:25 on 12 April 2009
eFriends's Avatar

eFriends

whaaat, your Magic Ball review a few days ago says:
"At just shy of £8 the amount of fun you'll get out of Magic Ball seems decent value for money."

while this review says:
"The game's so slight on features and modes that its £7.99 price tag can't be justified."

But comparing the reviews this game seems to have way more features and goodies thrown in compared to Magic Ball?
Posted 20:20 on 08 April 2009
renegade's Avatar

renegade

What a shame,Wesley, would you say if you liked the pc version you will live this one?
Posted 15:49 on 08 April 2009

Game Stats

6
Out of 10
Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic - No boxshot available.
  • Local multiplayer is fun
  • Physics compelling
  • Bare bones
  • No online play
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: TBA
Platform: PS3
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Beat 'em Up
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 3,086 679
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