The major goal of branded Facebook games--or all branded property, really--is to capture the spirit of the brands they represent. Jackie Chan: Martial Arts Legend, a new social game developed and published by 6waves, would earn a purple belt in that regard. While it captures what Jackie Chan has reformed into since his Drunken Master days, a family-friendly actor and teacher, it fails to capture the Jackie Chan that the often older Facebook gaming audience knows and loves.
You know, the Jackie Chan that beat the snot out of people in the coolest ways possible with whatever he could find? Martial Arts Legend is largely a property management game that sees players take a rundown building and turn it into a thriving marital arts academy. Players start by cleaning up trash, and they'll largely do this throughout the course of their time with the game. As it turns out, it's a fine means of wasting your energy points and keeping you from getting to the good stuff.
All the classic tropes of property management games are present and accounted for: the need for energy to build and interact with your environment, the need for friends to staff various rooms in your school, the need for special items only your friends can provide you with to proceed to the next level, the need to wait various amounts of time for tasks to complete. While these mechanics are proven staples of the social game world, they don't necessarily belong in a game all about martial arts.
Ultimately, it's these artifacts of the management style of social games (which is slowly on its way out, thank heaven) that keep players from enjoying the good stuff for too long. It also doesn't help that "the good stuff" isn't terribly interesting save for a goofy story and some role-playing game (RPG) style battle mechanics. Every once in a while, players will have the chance to challenge various martial arts masters in hand-to-hand combat.
This amounts to players using the skills they've unlocked through managing their school in turn-based bouts with automated opponents. But don't expect the walk in the park you were greeted with in the management portion of the game: These battles are tough as nails. If you don't pay attention to both what your opponent does and what your skills are capable of, you'll never win. For instance, it's important to notice when your opponent lashes out with a Fierce Strike, so as to use your Counter Strike for bonus damage that could turn the tide in your favor.
While the battles are beautifully animated with plenty of polish to boot, they're just not exciting. The fight scenes don't capture the rush of watching Jackie Chan in action on-screen. Admittedly, this may be tough to accomplish through a Facebook game, but with what we've seen in games like Shadow Fight, it's entirely possible. Jackie Chan: Martial Arts Legend, again, is one of the best-looking branded games on Facebook that simply fails to capture the funny, flashy finesse that is Jackie Chan.
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