King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Collector’s Edition Review
-Console: Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
– #Of Players: 1-2
-Published by: SNK Playmore
-Completion Time: N/A
– #Of discs: 2 (additional “The Making of…” DVD)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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