The King of Fighters: 2006 / Maximum Impact 2
King of Fighters 2006
– Console: Playstation 2
– ESRB Rating: Teen
– Genre: Fighting
– #Of Players: 1-2
– Difficulty: Adjustable
– Published by: SNK Playmore
– Completion Time: N/A
– Memory Card Usage: 84KB
– #Of discs: 1
The sequel to The King of Fighters Maximum Impact arrives with a new name and improvements in nearly every area. Players will notice more of the little things like being able to have Japanese voice options or not having to exit the profile area just to see same character in their other costume. Menus are also more colorful and full of life than the dark and dreary presentation of the original. From the sound to the graphics, everything is more refined.
After the conclusion of the first tournament, The Meria brothers defeated Duke, leader of the gang Mephistopheles, and started to restore peace to the city of Southtown. Around this time, invitations to the next tournament began arriving at the doors of the characters that would be invited to participate.
All of the characters that are available in the beginning actually have a story this time around, unlike the first that only focused on about 4 characters or so. Everyone has an actual goal and reason for being there. The stories are pretty interesting and take the series into some strange directions that make it a unique experience, even when compared to its 2-d brethren.
Overall, the sound quality has improved from the last game. Most of the battle noises and sound effects have been carried over from the last game, with additions for the new characters. Punches and kicks still have that brutal sound to them. The soundtrack is less rock and roll and more jazz this time around, and it makes the overall experience less annoying. With the exception of the music that plays during the hard challenges, the soundtrack is very relaxing on the ears.
The voice-overs from the first game remain the same; with some characters having re-recorded lines, and others have a completely different Voice Actors. On the whole, if players hated the English options before, they will probably still dislike them to some degree. Now, the Japanese vocal options are available as well, and provide a nice change of pace. Both tracks suffer from missed Lip Synchs, but the English track has more instances of it being noticed for a longer period of time. Despite that, I found myself enjoying the English track more, and it seemed to be less annoying this time around. No matter what options are chosen, players will still get stuck with possibly one the worst announcers I have ever heard. Neither track seems to be on the caliber of Soul Calibur III, but it the little changes manage to have a large effect on the experience.
The controls are still fully customizable. There is no joystick support in this game. With the new addition of the “Sabaki” parries, any configuration from the original setup will result in a loss of something else. It doesn’t make the game unplayable by any means, but it is annoying. Controls are also more responsive than in the previous game. Pulling off combos that switch between Stylish Moves (3-d commands) and Special Moves (commands from the 2-d games) are much easier.
The graphic quality has improved. The arenas are more filled with life and detail. The little things, like the sun peaking through the background of a large “The King of Fighters” billboard, to the impressive lightshows that go on in certain arenas during the fight, really add a layer of realism. The concept of participants fighting in a tournament that brings a lot of publicity is more believable in comparison to the parking garages and desolate areas of the original. Floors in some areas take damage, and unlike other games in the genre players can actually see the damage to these certain areas accumulate over a period of time. Area damage also carries over to the remaining rounds in the fight.
I’d still like to see characters be able to beat one another through a wall into another area though. The areas in the game usually consist of a square ring placed into a random environment. Having the option for day/night versions of many of the stages is nice as well, but the night locales are often too dark.
The character models are very detailed and almost meet the quality of Falcoon’s visual art style. Each of the 38 characters has a total of 32 costume options, 16 of which are unlockable. While the first 4 of the characters 2 outfit types are just pallet swaps of one another, the unlockable items could easily pass as completely new characters. Rigging models are gone, but in some of the costumes they show up. Many of these costumes are minor tributes to other SNK characters. Character skins are less rubbery this time around, and actually serve their purpose quite well. Collision detection is much better, and the chance of hair passing through a character’s body is rare. Tthere were a few times where characters faced away from each other and were still able to land attacks despite the animations showing the attacking character hitting only the air. Overall, animations are much smoother as well. Moves and special effects are very colorful and easy on the eyes.
One of the new features to the series is the ability to, after pausing the game with the start button, and then hitting the select button, is the option to zoom in and out on the current frame of action. The camera rotates fully above and around each character. This option was originally only available in the XBOX version of Maximum Impact Maniax. It would have been nice if player were actually able to save some of the screenshots to a memory card. Also the character models disappear if they are zoomed in on too much. This is problematic because you can never seem to get close enough to what you want to see. The system also has problems getting the right angles on characters in the air. The area where the camera locks onto usually isn’t where the character is in those situations.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original, but the minor changes and revisions make the experience feel less aggravating. Still, the best road to success is to find that one combo that a character can use over and over again. Each character has more 2-d moves available to them. Now old school players will have an easier time getting into the game. Also, falling down on the ground isn’t nearly as fatal as it was in the first game. Getting stuck up against the wall still can be very troublesome, since characters can’t roll past one another, but it is not nearly as annoying.
New to the system is the “sabaki” counter option that parries an enemy character’s attacks. It is a useful addition that allows characters to get out of the infinite combo strings that are still in the game. Dodging is still a pain, and is almost worse than the previous game. Characters never seem to dodge fast or far enough. In some cases, dodging proved to be useless because the attacking character’s combo would simply adjust to where the dodging character moved. While it isn’t a large problem in the arcade mode, the sluggish response and sheer difficulty of dodging make most of the additional missions far more challenging than they need to be. Every once in a while, it seems like two different game systems are being used at the same time, 2-d version, and the 3-d version.
The mission mode returns with nearly 5 times as many missions than in the original. In the games 220 missions, players will do challenges that range from fighting a Metal Slug Tank, to attacking boulders that fall from the sky in order to carve them into Moai. While there is a lot to do in this game, doing the regular missions get tedious after a while. When I got around level 70 in the Easy Missions, I was sick of doing them. Once the first 100 missions are unlocked another 100 Hard Missions become available. The only noticeable change between the two sets of missions is that in the hard missions character selection is disabled. The major problem about this is, in a many cases, is that the game FORCES you to gain a nearly intimate level of understanding of the character that is chosen for you. While I don’t have any problems with experimenting with new characters, I didn’t like being forced to learn how to play as someone I had no desire of choosing.
This game also has a unique survival mode, in which players gain points for successful victories and then can spend them on a variety of things from extra storage gauges for special moves, to power and life limit increases. It is a pretty fun adjustment to the worn out survival modes of other games, and it is enjoyable.
All of the versus modes from the original return. Gamers can still play the traditional 1 on 1 or 3 on 3 team battles, both against a friend or the computer. New to the mix is the option to play with a roulette system that can be beneficial (attacks do twice as much damage), or stick you with a handicap (only being able to use one star DOA Thrashing Super Special Moves).
Fans looking for that coveted 100% completion will definitely get their money’s worth. Almost anything that a player can complete successfully, unless it is has already been completed, will result in something new getting unlocked. The game almost has too much to unlock. It gets tedious going through a difficult challenge, or having to beat the Time Attack mode over and over again, only to get a costume for the character, or a random character if the original character has everything unlocked already. While there are a few arenas to unlock, and a large selection of musical tunes going as far back in SNK history as the original Fatal Fury, (all of those music tunes are unlocked at once), there just isn’t enough variety in what you can gain. It would have been nice to unlock an art gallery, or actually be able to chose which characters outfits would be unlocked in an store/shop area.
Final Score: 7.5/10
This game is a definite improvement over the original, and is really fun to play. The minor changes almost make the original game unplayable in comparison. I really enjoyed the character selection and how it even has some extremely rare characters like Richard Myer, who was in the original Fatal Fury as one of the first 4 bosses, Lily Kane: Billy Kane’s (who is also playable) sister who only showed up in his endings, and Hanzo Hattori, who was in the Samurai Showdown games. It is a shame that the majority of American audiences didn’t get the KOF Another Day Anime DVD that was originally promoted as a free bonus with the game. It was later revealed by the company AFTER its release date, that it was pre-order only. The complaints I have with the game weren’t enough to ruin the experience. If you like the King of Fighters series, you will enjoy this game.
By Plumbum Sol