Disappointment. There's no other way to describe Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon (well, I am sure you can think of a few other creative adjectives, but let's leave it at that). Despite the shockwave of negative feedback its received, my initial impression was that the criticism addressed was a bit harsh. Surely, a video game based upon one of the most respected, legendary martial arts master couldn't possibly end up as a botched-up product. Sadly, Bruce Lee: QOTD (we'll refer to it as QOTD for the remainder of the review) leaves gamers with a far more unbearable pain than the average physical blow can deliver.
To its credit, Quest of the Dragon faithfully captures the mastery of Bruce's founded arts - Jeet Kune Do, allowing players to select from a extensive selection of moves. Initially, you'll start out with a very limited move set, consisting of the basics - punch and kick. Fortunately, progression throughout the 30-fast paced levels (the manual's description, not mine) will offer opportunities to acquire new moves by defeating certain opponents. The key to building up your offensive palette lies in executing specific moves to earn the various hidden rewards.
This would all sound very intriguing to any player, given the features in the game if the execution overall was not only balanced but, functional. QOTD's most significant deterrent is the control - it's simply too buggy and erratic for words (or comprehend for that matter). I'd expect such a drawback to be evident in a beta, but certainly not in a retail final copy. Where's the quality assurance and debugging? You know usually I am not one for reading any manuals. I'll figure things out as I go along (and in this case, QOTD's in-game training mode, offering plenty of practice opportunities at your disposal). In spite of the fact that I spent several minutes thoroughly looking over the documentation (yes, that included the 4+ pages dedicated to ALL of Bruce's moves - it did me little good.) It's bad enough that I was getting my butt kicked in the game, but my patience was pretty battered as well. It's a miracle I didn't break my controller trying to get moves to respond in a timely fashion - basically because the control's are seemingly unresponsive and the AI takes every advantage to kick your ass. The collision detection isn't very precise either. Whiffed air attacks knock down opponents? Apparently that's valid here, but only because of inadequate play testing. Not good, Ronin.
"To hell with opportunity. I create opportunity."
(at least I am trying to)
So about that extensive roster of moves. Tekken fans would be in heaven, they eat up nuances like this when it comes to complexity. Impressive as it may seem, you'll never see half of these attacks - ever. As noted earlier, you can acquire additional moves by defeating certain opponents. In a very uncreative fashion, these opponents release - coins. (Suddenly I feel like I am playing some platform title.) Be that as it may, at the end of each successfully completed area, players can choose to purchase more health, attack power, upgrade your rank to access more advanced levels to the ultimate objective - gaining more moves (you knew I was coming to that). Of course, this objective would be a breeze if the gameplay overall was simply tighter, and at the very least, exceptionally playable. Most players will be lucky enough to pass the first two stages (button mashing optional, but strongly encouraged).
"They call me...flawed."
From a technical perspective, QOTD is a perfect example of what you don't expect (or want) to see in any video game. Flawed controls, jerky camera angles, and a very bland AI system (bland, but still aggressive enough to kick your butt due to sluggish controls). The graphics are an insult to the Xbox hardware. QOTD could easily have been produced on the a lesser graphic capable console and deliver the same results. It's as if Ronin used the lowest denomination of effort. If not for the gradual lens flare effect in a few stages, you'd be stumped at how anyone could consider this a next-generation title (well, that's a commercialized term anyways). I would've been more excited about the story, provided these flaws weren't such a deterrent. Bruce's primary objective is to recover an ancient artifact, a mystical item that holds the ancient martial arts secrets passed down within his family lineage. Perhaps in the sequel, Bruce will seek out the meaning of balance and why it was sadly absent from the original. I'd love to go into detail about the music, only - it's practically non-existent (either that, or what we have here are the most ambient soundtracks ever encountered). However, there's plenty of sub-par voice samples graced by a myriad of Bruce Lee's trademark battle cries (and then some) which serve to give the game some atmosphere.
Purist or not, high expectations were set for QOTD, none of which were actually achieved. QOTD is like the "Superman64" for the Xbox. Regardless how objective I aspired to be, the flaws are too great to ignore. Hopes that were elevated became shattered hearts. The merit, respect and talent that Bruce Lee demonstrated warrants something substantially better than this installment failed to offer, period.
· · · Bahn