It is The King of Fighter’s 10th Anniversary and to celebrate this nostalgic event SNK Playmore has taken The King of Fighters into the 3rd dimension with The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact. Yes, one of the last 2D fighting games has made the jump to 3D. Is this good or bad? That is up to you to decide, but it looks like they plan on continuing the series in this fashion according to the interviews that are included on the bonus DVD that comes with the collector’s edition version of the game.King of Fighters: Maximum Impact has you picking one of the 19 playable fighters and going up again seven other fighters as you travel around Southtown. There isn’t much depth to the story and the amount of story you do get while playing the game is more confusing than anything. You can unlock background information about each character and alternate costumes by beating the game with them. This will provide more information on why they are fighting but you probably still won’t understand the full story. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary for fighting games, but I have a feeling a lot got lost in translation, especially when the people who created the game talk about the exciting story on the bonus disc.
The regular King of Fighter characters are back in KOF: Maximum Impact, so don’t be surprised when you see Terry Bogard, Mai Shiranui, Iori Yagami, Leona, and more. Also, joining them are four new characters which included Alba Meira and Soiree Meira who are brothers, Lien Neville which is an assassin, and Mignon Beart a young girl trying to become a witch. These new and old characters give you a decent selection of characters to choose from and they all look nice on the screen.
The characters details are decent and very crisp but maybe not as detailed as games like Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution and Dead or Alive 3. SNK did a good job of translating the 2D characters into 3D and they are what I expect when I heard King of Fighters was moving to 3D. The backgrounds are also nicely done and have the same standard scenery that has been showing up in all the 3D fighting games lately. So, expect to fight in a cage match at a club, a parking garage, on a rooftop with helicopters and more. None of the backgrounds really jumped out at me and they all seemed like I had seen them before. The one thing the graphics do really well is move fast. This is one of the faster fighting games I have played and the animation is smooth and flowing.
Plan on hearing guitar rock flowing in the background as you fight your opponents. The music definitely reminded me of previous KOF games. Is this good or bad? I guess if you liked previous King of Fighters’ music then you will like this music also, but if you are not into guitar rock you might want to turn the volume down. The voice-acting is also not the greatest. Once again, I think the translation killed it. Expect cheesy quotes that will make you laugh more than pump you up for the fight. All of the quotes are in English this time around and I don’t know if that is good or bad. On top of the cheesy quotes you will be greeted by an odd clown-like guy at the beginning of the game that tries to setup the story. The dialog is not deep at all, so don’t expect much. He will also greet you in-between each fight just to tell you who you will fight next. All he says most of the time is “Your next opponent is so-in-so.” and that is it. No more dialog and no more details on the story. To me it seems like something is missing here but maybe that is all there was even in the Japanese version of the game. After your next fighter is announced another screen will load and then you will hear your opponent’s taunts. I don’t know why they didn’t bypass the clown guy all together but maybe there was more before KOF: Maximum Impact made the trip to North America.
The controls in KOF: Maximum Impact are definitely better than the voice-acting and were easy to pick up. This might not go over real well with diehard King of Fighter fans but newbies to the series will enjoy the easy pick up and play feel to the game. Like I said above, the game is really fast and I didn’t notice any lag between what I pressed and what happened on the screen even at its fast pace. I still don’t know how people pull off some of the elaborate moves consistently that make you press forward, down, diagonally down and other ways multiple times to pull them off, but I don’t think you will have a problem pulling them off if you are skilled at them already. I have a tendency to just wiggle the digital pad all around hoping I hit one. I know what I am trying to do, but I cannot consistently pull them off like some people. Maybe it is a good thing that KOF: Maximum Impact doesn’t have an online mode since it would probably get ugly if I tried to compete against some of the veteran KOF players out there.
Yes, KOF: Maximum Impact does not have an online mode. It also doesn’t have any type of elaborate mission mode like Soul Calibur 2 or Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. Don’t expect to unlock a lot of extras in the game or to see special ending movies for each character. All you get to unlock in the game is new costume colors and some special alternate costumes. I guess this isn’t that bad since the collector’s edition of the game comes with a Bonus DVD that has interviews, character art, background information, and more that is already totally unlocked for you from the start. But, since other fighting games have set the bar for extra content it makes King of Fighters: Maximum Impact look kind of weak. If this game would’ve come out back in the Sega Saturn era nobody would’ve cared, but games like Tekken 4, Mortal Kombat: Deception, Guilty Gear: Isuka and others have made us want more than just an arcade port of our favorite fighting game. The only other modes beside the story mode in KOF: Maximum Impact are the Versus, Time Trial, and Mission modes. Versus mode allows you to play versus another player or computer opponent with one or three characters (three character matches are only available in this mode). Time Trial mode has you trying to beat up opponents as fast as you can to set a new record. Lastly, Mission mode has you performing certain challenges, such as, defeating an opponent in a certain amount of time, performing a hit combo, winning without using a certain technique, etc. By completing these missions you unlock the stuff mentioned above. It is nothing special but at least you get something for your troubles.
Basically, KOF: Maximum Impact is a fun fighting game that lacks the depth of a lot of the other fighting games that have hit the market in the past few years. For SNK’s first attempt at bringing the King of Fighters series into the 3rd dimension it is a decent showing, but you can also see the growing pains that have come along with it. I am guessing that SNK was working most of the time during the development process trying to get all the 2D characters translated to 3D and working properly. This probably explains why there are not a lot of extra modes and features to unlock in the game and that is understandable. I would rather have a decent fighting game than tons of extra bells and whistles and a bad fighting game. I am guessing that if they bring out KOF: Maximum Impact 2 we will see more features, since they will have time to focus on them. Remember, Soul Calibur, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, etc. have been around in 3D for a while now, so the developers have had the luxury of adding extras. I am guessing SNK was mainly focusing on getting a decent 3D fighting game out on the market and I think they have accomplished that.
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