Looks ain't Everything

Swedish developer Tarsier Studios brings a superb looking, very charming Media Molecule invention to the PSN. But did they do enough?
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: April 18, 2009
When we received the eMail with our download code for Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic everyone at the office was fairly excited. After all the name giving title this Tarsier Studios project is based upon was developed by Media Molecule, the mad geniuses behind LittleBigPlanet, a game that changed the industry like few other titles ever did.


If the mere idea of Media Molecule's indirect involvement made you believe that Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic would be a definite buy and if you've been expecting a deep and diverse single player experience with a great multiplayer part (including online play) that followed the perfection of Media Molecule's latest hit, then you will sadly be disappointed: Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic is a party mini-game. The problem: its emphasize is very much on mini, which is just not enough to fully recommend the game to anyone willing to spend 10 bucks on a PSN title.

With Swedish developer Tarsier Studios having had quite some time since our hands-on preview at the E3 last year, back then when to us the game's controls, graphics and physics seemed like they were fairly close to completion, it is even less understandable why they released a game that feels like being far from done.

We have to admit, this is the most beautiful, incomplete, demo-like title out there on the PSN, or on any console online store for that matter. The game's physics are stunning, with everything reacting realistically and most importantly fun upon impact. The game's charm is undeniable, with a cool though quickly tedious soundtrack, and the challenges are a great way to make you spend an afternoon screaming at your TV. Yes, the single player challenges are hard, and yes, you will spend hours with the game until you reach plastic (basically the game's name for platinum) on all of them. But most players will never get plastic beyond the second challenge because most of them will never even make it to gold for that matter. It really is that damn hard.

All of the aforementioned would be totally OK, would the game offer more challenges and wouldn't the challenge mode simply feel like a long tutorial for the game's main part: the local multiplayer.

Speaking of, multiplayer is another disappointment. The game offers a good amount of unlockables and maps, however there is absolutely no progression system and the worst part: there is no online play! A decision, I for my part, will never come to understand. I mean, it shouldn't be that big of a problem to let players go online with their custom characters in one of the decent multiplayer modes. This title would have really benefited from combining local with online play. Warhawk did that with a far more complicated system. Letting friends jump in and out of certain modes would have been amazing if done well, or at all.

Playing Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic makes me angry. There is so much here that could have been made fantastic with a little bit more commitment and creative input (not that this game is uncreative). It's like they created the basics and then forgot to actually finish the game. That just feels cheap and uninspired and is, to be honest, borderline rip-off.

Let me end this review by making one thing clear: Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic is not a complete failure of a game. It's just a huge disappointment. There is simply not enough content here to justify its price. But if you are looking for a title that can be goofed around with a couple of friends then it still might be worth a look. At least the trophies are relatively easy (not all of them though!) and most importantly fun to go for. Just don't say we didn't warn you.
The Verdict
7.0

Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic is a disappointment in almost every sense of the word. It looks awesome, it plays awesome and yet it feels like a tech-demo and not like a game you just spent 10 bucks on. A free update might do the job, heh Sony?

9.0Graphics:

Great textures, smooth framerate, awesome physics, nice effects. Everything screams top production values here.

8.0Sound:

Funny sound design with some cool music, however some might dislike the fact that there isn't much variety to be found here. The game's title song can drive you nuts after some time. It certainly did that with me at the end of the review.

8.0Control:

The controls are relatively deep with some very interesting and smart Sixaxis integration. You won't know all the tricks after 10 minutes but it's easy enough to just pick up and play. Everything is also very physics based, which is a good thing.

7.5Gameplay:

The gameplay itself is very decent, there's just not much here that makes use of this game's potential.