E3 2010: first impressions Kung Fu Live

I’m very excited to finally share this new game with you. While at E3 2010, Jason and I got a closed (well, not quite) door demo of Kung-Fu Live, the first game from Virtual Air Guitar Company. Kung-Fu Live utilizes the PlayStation Eye to create a framework around the user’s body, inserting the resulting video image into your game on screen.

The game must have been gaining popularity by word-of-mouth, because all sorts of people were dropping by for an impromptu demo. I don’t blame other E3 attendees for being excited, as the FreeMotion Technology, and what they’ve done with Kung-Fu Live to utilize it, is nothing short of mindblowing.

The game maintains an ’80s kung-fu comic book style (while adding weather and various effects that will come to full fruition later in development) and essentially lets you become the game’s protagonist by inserting you into the levels. As I could tell from the demos, each move is not only recorded, but your opponents also react accordingly. A few specific moves will result in combos, at least one of which will use lightning. I’m told (on the down-low, shhhh) that wearing costumes and even using weapons will work, increasing the nerdgasm potential for this product. If you want to take on your opponent with a baseball bat, you’ll be free to, so long as you maintain contact with it to enable the FreeMotion framing – Hell, you could take ’em on with a katana wearing a full Yoshimitsu costume… we won’t judge. Worried about background interference? Don’t be. In addition to skeletal tracking, FreeMotion Technology also extracts the player image from the background to create a seamless visual experience.

Now, the demo we were given specifically made use of the PlayStation Eye, but the press materials cite “console cameras” and “webcams” as potential video feed sources, so it looks like they’re leaving room open to potentially release on other systems in the future. It’ll really be interesting to see where this goes.

Here’s a video of Jason trying out the demo. My apologies that it’s a little short, but it was difficult getting as much footage as I did with the constant barrage of foot traffic. Had I known how awesome Kung-Fu Live would actually be, I would have snagged our video recording equipment, too, instead of using the recorder on my Nikon Coolpix! You’ll find a gallery of some screen shots and a few snaps I took of the demo while in the Virtual Air Guitar Company booth below.

JASON’S IMPRESSIONS:

First of all, I want to say thanks to the Virtual Air Guitar Company for letting me try out one of the most unique games at E3. Kung-Fu Live is an absolute over-the-top fighting simulator, as you can see from my hands-on body-on demo of the game. The KFL experience is highly reminiscent of the ’90s Nickelodeon gameshow Nick Arcade, where contestants were seemingly transported into a video game world, something I always wanted to try out myself.

I have to say, the technology works flawlessly. I kept expecting to see one of my arms glitch-out as I moved about, like you’ve probably seen in so many ambitious green screen demos. But there’s likely no glitches because there is no green screen with Kung-Fu Live, it just knows where you are. Instead, I attribute the unique ability to transport myself into the game to “magic.”

Like Holly noted, you’re able to wear costumes and even hold objects that will essentially make customization endless. If I was playing at home, I’d likely don a Power Rangers costume while holding a loaf of bread as my weapon of choice. But during my play time, I just stuck to what I know best; using my hands to destroy my enemies.

It was really just such a fun experience, where I was pretty much drenched with sweat after a few short minutes. I highly recommend anyone who owns a PlayStation Eye camera to check this game out when it launches. It’s actually worth the purchase of the camera alone.

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About the Author: Holly Green

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