The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact

King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Collector’s Edition Review

-Console: Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: Fighting
– #Of Players: 1-2
-Difficulty: Adjustable
-Published by: SNK Playmore
-Completion Time: N/A
– #Of discs: 2 (additional “The Making of…” DVD)

Presentation: 6/10

The main thing that is notable about the presentation is the box that holds the two DVD cases looks. It is full of color and large CG images of past King of Fighters Characters. The idea behind this game is the merging of 2-d and 3-d gameplay with an all-new story. Whether this game meets the objectives it claims to promote is still very much up in the air. With every step forward, there is something that holds this game back.

Story: 6/10

As with many fighting games, the usual motivation of the story is that someone is holding a fighting tournament and various fighters get invited to beat the stuffing out of each other. However, this game takes the story a little further. The main story follows the exploits of the brothers Meira, and how they seek revenge for the assassination of their leader Fate. Fate was a powerful gang leader of the city of Southtown, a place forever known in SNK history from the Fatal Fury fighting series. Fate also raised both of the brothers from early childhood. Since they feel they owe a large debt for what he did for them, they both enter to meet Duke, the man that put out the hit on Fate’s Head.

Sound: 4/10

The music in this game is pretty well placed. The tunes that you will hear match the areas that you are fighting in. These songs are a mix of jazzy hip-hop, & rock and roll, that really help the player get into beating down on many of the game’s opponents. The sound effects are a good variety of hits and smacks that bring the brutality of the moves up a notch.

On the other hand, the English voice-overs run the spectrum from “Eh…” to downright atrocious. Many of the lines don’t match the lip synchs of the characters, leaving many noticeable moments of people’s mouths moving, but no sound coming out of them. To make matters worse, voices rarely match the characters. This mismatch causes most of the story scenes come off as over-dramatic. The script writing is filled with cheesy one-liners and cut and paste conversations that sometimes don’t make any sense at all. Since there is no option to switch to the original Japanese voice-overs, gamers are left with a sour taste in their mouth when there favorite character loses a majority of the personality that the gamer has grown to be accustomed to. Practically all of the game is dubbed, and gamers will be forced to get used to, or turn the volume all the way down, to avoid this major problem. It is a shame, because the music is pretty good and the horrific voice-overs drain the music out.

-Control: 7/10

The control is pretty easy to get into, but seems to suffer from having more commands than the controller can handle. Most of the difficulty comes from the dodging in the game. The R1 button has the sole purpose of doing the trademark rolling dodges, and the “new” sidestep options. Though it is very easy to do the wrong type of dodge. Luckily this can be remedied by the fully customizable controls.

-Graphics: 7/10

The main thing gamers will notice is just how colorful the game really is. Most of the KOF favorites make the transition to 3-d quite well. Character stances are intact and the moves are made to dazzle. The areas are pretty bland, with most of the fighting taking place in a square or circle of some kind. The environments outside of the fighting are detailed and nice to look at. The people in the backgrounds look very blurry though, as if a 2-d sprite was pasted into the landscape.

Though the character models look nice, they are far from top notch. Mignon Beart, one of the new characters, has a costume that you can see the line from where the creators wrapped the costume skin around the initial body model. Other characters have issues with polygons passing through one another, which is most evident in the profile mode, where hair goes completely through a character’s arm and any other limbs or clothes that get in the way.

-Gameplay: 6/10

The game’s speed is much faster this time around, and puts the familiar special move system on the back burner and replaces it with a combo system much like a Tekken or Soul Calibur. The difference is that many of the moves don’t “flow” into each other and you become reliant on one combo that you can abuse over and over again until you knock out an opponent. The computer does this as well, and makes this tactic their primary mode of attack. Now that characters can take damage while lying on the ground, and can be bounced back into the walls to extend the combos and damage, if you get caught on the ground or in front a wall that you can’t sidestep away from, you will receive massive damage and probably lose. Most of the “old school” SNK fans will get turned off from the lack of power in their favorite special attacks, and the lack of depth in the combo system will turn off the 3-d fighting fans. Many of the battles boil down to a pattern of: “Dodge attack, attack with combo, dodge attack, attack, rinse and repeat.”

Multiplayer: 7/10

The game features the standard VS mode, which gives the option of playing against the computer or a friend in trademark 3-on-3 battles, or just doing a standard one-on-one match. The main drawback to the 3-on-3 fights is the load times between battles.

Longevity: 6/10

The game has a large amount of unlockable content. Through the mission mode, gamers can gain new costumes and stages, and it does a passable job of teaching you how to correctly exploit the battle system. Clearing the story mode with a character unlocks their profile. In this mode, gamers can look at a model of the character, and zoom in and out, while they are in their battle stance. You can find out about their back-stories and the things they like. Unfortunately, there are a few translation issues here as well. For example: Did you know that Rock Howard’s (a selectable character in the game) favorite food is his driving gloves?

The “Rigging Model” area of the profile allows the player to slightly tweak existing costumes. Some changes are minimal, from adding a guitar case on a character’s back, to options that practically make another outfit. It would have been nice to allow the characters the option to wear all of the rigging models, but most of them are intended to be comical, yet the miss the mark completely.

Final Score: 6/10

This game can be fun. The artist Falcoon did the characters designs, and each one comes off beautifully despite the graphical errors. His style gives the series a much needed boost, and a uniqueness all its own. The gameplay, though flawed, can be fun when fighting under normal conditions. I also wish that they didn’t stack the deck so high against you in the final fight. I wish developers would realize that making incredibly overpowered final bosses to increase the challenge doesn’t increase the challenge. It just inspires frustration. In the case of Duke, this game’s final boss, he is powerful enough without the infinite special bar. Giving him that just allows him to abuse his super powered finishing move by using it in sequence over and over. The horrible voice acting takes the gamer out of the experience, and nearly ruins the game by itself. The additional DVD shows trailers, interviews, and a few quick glances of artwork sketches. It features an additional instruction booklet that shows all of the moves and a quick summary of each character’s whereabouts before they were mailed the invitation to the tournament. In closing, this is a series that definitely has potential, but many, many things will need to be fixed before it can truly become the king.

By Plumbum Sol

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

Presentation: 8/10

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.

Story: 8.5/10

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.

Sound: 7/10

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.

Control: 7/10

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.

Graphics: 8/10

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.

Gameplay: 7.5/10

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.

Multiplayer: 7/10

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).

Longevity: 8/10

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

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.