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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Universal Interactive

 

Developer

Ronin

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Plenty of Jeet Kune Do moves to learn
- The few times you are able to master the controls can unleash some gratifying martial arts mayhem on enemies
- There wonít be a sequel

 

 

- Plenty of Jeet Kune Do moves to learn
- The few times you are able to master the controls can unleash some gratifying martial arts mayhem on enemies
- There wonít be a sequel

 

 

Review: Dead Or Alive 3 (XBox)

Review: X-Men: The Next Dimension (XBox)

Review: John Woo Presents Stranglehold (360)

 

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Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon

Score: 2.4 / 10

 

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Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon (BL: QOTD) for the Xbox had the potential to be a great game: Take who many consider the greatest martial arts expert of all-time, the late Bruce Lee (whoíd you think I was going to mention, Steven Seagal?) and throw him in a Max Payne-style action adventure with plenty of martial arts combat instead of gunfights. It sounded potentially so good. Instead, what couldíve been an action game contender turns out to be a wannabe pretender that is rivaled only by Kabuki Warriors as the worst Xbox title yet. This game has more problems bringing it down than you can shake a chopstick at.

Placed sometime circa the 1970s in the shoes of the recently retired British Secret Service agent Bruce Lee, you are called back into action to investigate and chase

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through Hong Kong, San Francisco, and London the Black Lotus terrorist organization who has kidnapped your scientist father to develop some type of super steroid chemical compound and also has stolen the Golden Relic, which holds many ancient martial arts secrets. His abduction is also revenge against Lee for killing Chai Wan, who happened to be the father of the Black Lotusí new leader, Dragon

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Lady. Despite some holes and some cheesy 70s-style dialogue (ďYou jive turkey!Ē) the story is serviceable enough to thrust you through the 30 areas that make up BL: QOTDís adventure game.

However, the cut-scenes that piece together the various levels are unbelievably awful in both their visual appeal and editing. This is an Xbox game, for crying out loud, thereís no way the ugly character graphics that appear in BL: QOTDís cut-scenes should be acceptable to a development team. And whoever was in charge of directing the cut-scenes needs a remedial course in editing. Many bafflingly start or end at no logical point, and the voice acting dubbing is absolutely terrible (but maybe this was done on purpose).

Speaking of the voice acting, much of what is spoken by the characters is undecipherable without having your television up really loud, and if the real Bruce Lee, although never a thespian himself, delivered his lines as badly as the gameís virtual Lee does I doubt he would have starred in more than one movie. The sounds heard from interaction with the environment and other characters arenít handled as badly, being average at best, but hearing Leeís continuous battle vocalizations gets tired very quickly.

Graphically, the in-game animation, character appearances, and backgrounds arenít much better, but could have sufficed with better gameplay. Lee looks scrawny, nothing like the butt-kicking martial arts machine he was in real life. And some of the supposedly sexy evil female characters Lee must defeat are closer physically attractive-wise in appearance to actress Kathy Bates than the beauties in the Xbox fighting game Dead or Alive 3.

The biggest flaws that cripple BL: QOTD worse than a dragon punch to the face is the unmanageable control scheme of Bruce Lee during battles due in large part to the horrifically designed fixed camera mechanism. This game reminds me so much of Double Dragon I and II on the NES in these respects itís downright scary. If you remember the Double Dragon games, smooth control wasnít always there and you were forced to take on enemies where the game wanted you to based on the in-game camera in a lot of instances instead of you finding a nice spot for defensive and offensive moves against multiple clones of thugs.

 

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BL: QOTD suffers from similar problems. The camera is an atrocity, placing Lee many times in awkward positions (behind items or features that are part of the levelís landscape or structures) at key moments during fights that make the game that much more frustrating. If people who have played Hunter: The Reckoning thought its camera could be maddening have seen nothing until they try out BL: QOTD. Also, the game never clearly plots out the path you should be taking, instead relying on the dreaded (and infamous) invisible wall Ė an unseen barrier that is just plain ridiculous and at times blocks areas of the game where it looks like you should be able to move.

Supposedly you are using the Jeet Kune Do martial art that Lee was famous for to dispatch enemies. Thereís a huge array of moves listed in the manual. But controlling the lead character is so unwieldy and difficult, youíll never see more than a few of the specialized moves of Lee. The terrible camera forces you to take on a specific character once you hit him or her, even if they are off the screen while other enemies can attack you, leaving you no recourse until that specific enemy is defeated. This is sometimes the fact even if you are right next to another enemy character while the enemy currently engaged may be on the other side of the screen.

You should always be able to fight the nearest enemy. But no, you canít take on another enemy until the one you are fighting is wiped out or you use a trigger and button mashing multiple attack, which doesnít always work effectively or when you want it to. Although, button-mashing is the most effective option in many fights. Early in the game, I got rid of most of my opposition simply by rapidly mashing either the kick or punch button. Youíre better off getting comfortable with a few of the more effective yet simple-to-pull-off moves.

To win the game, there are 14 boss characters to beat down. But here is another area where BL: QOTD fails miserably. I wonít sugarcoat this: When it comes to the boss characters the gameís artificial intelligence is absolutely appalling. Using the same exact fighting technique can defeat every boss. Boss characters are supposed to be the toughest challenges of any game, but in BL: QOTD, itís the exact opposite. All you have to do to defeat EVERY single boss is to get in a crouching defense position, hold the block button, wait for your opponent to attempt to hit you, and once he or she futilely attacks, rapidly hit the kick button to pull off a Twin Kick Combo move. After three or four minutes, the boss will go down. The minor thugs that you face throughout BL: QOTD are tougher challenges individually than the entire roster of bosses COMBINED.

Fights are broken down as Brawls, Time Attacks, Multiple Fights, Nunchaku Fights, Combo Fights, Sub-Boss Fights or Arena Boss Fights. But when you break it down, the only real difference is in the amount of enemies you may vanquish, from 16 to one, in any particular area of the game. Thereís a health display for both you and the current opponent engaged in a fight and the total number of dragon and purchasing tokens. Various power-ups will appear, from health rejuvenation orbs to the too few extra lives.

When it comes to saving your game progress, BL: QOTD is a mixed bag. Save points allow for purchasing life and hit points, and skill ranks that range from white belt through dragon belt. Each incremental belt allows for additional moves to be purchased, which becomes a moot point since most moves are too difficult to pull off in the actual game. While you can save after each completed level, each level is long, broken down into usually four or five smaller areas. Instead of allowing for saves at the halfway of quarter point of the level, you can only save if you make it through the entire level. So even if you lose your last life on the very last opponent on the level, you are forced to start from the beginning, which can get frustrating.

But there is a little glitch in the save system that actually benefits players. When you restart, if you had saved with only one or no extra lives left, youíre better off letting yourself get defeated because once you run out of lives and restart, you will somehow be rewarded with three, not one or no lives, even though you are starting at the same exact save point. Itís the bizarre notion of getting a reward for losing instead of successfully trekking through a level.

BL: QOTD was supposed to come out around the Xboxís launch. Considering that the developers had 7 additional months or so to work on this game, itís an outright embarrassment that this is the best product the developers could come up with. Every member of the development team associated with this shameful game should be required to withstand three frontal kicks to the groin before being allowed near another video game project. Do not buy this game unless you have started collection of the all-time worst games ever to disgrace store shelves. I wouldnít recommend BL: QOTD to my worst enemy, itís that bad.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(July 30, 2002)

 

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