For better or for worse, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact brings the classic KOF series into the modern realm of 3D fighting. For fans of the King of Fighters franchise, not much has changed from the previous releases of this popular SNK fighting game. Other than adding the 3D graphics engine, new fighting arenas and five new characters, KOF: MI is basically the same game it always has been. So, if you have all of your favorite character’s moves memorized from the last KOF game, you’ll be happy to know that the moves are still the same.
On the other hand, if you’re a fan of newer 3D fighters such as Soul Calibur 2, Tekken 4 or the Mortal Kombat games (read DailyGame’s MK: Deception review), you may feel a little restricted in your movements in KOF: MI. Unlike these other 3D titles, King of Fighters: MI doesn’t allow you to rotate freely in the 3D arenas. Your movements are restricted to forward, backward, jump, duck and a dodge move. So although it’s nice to have fully 3D-rendered characters and backgrounds, the game doesn’t allow you to move freely within the settings.
There are several modes in King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, including a “story mode” that basically has players fight different opponents until they reach the boss fight. There’s also a practice mode, versus mode and arcade mode. Unfortunately, there is no online play, so you’ll either have to have a friend to beat up on or play against the sometimes-too-difficult AI.
One nice (or is it naughty?) addition to the game is the ability to attack your opponent after he or she has been knocked down. Comes in handy if you’re playing against your little sister and want to really put a “beat down” on her. You can also corner your opponent, and if you manage to knock him or her to the floor, you can continue to dish out the pain. However, if your foe pulls off a recovery roll and regains his footing, he can also come from behind and possibly do the same to you.
To prevent the embarrassment of being “owned” by your little sister (or the AI), you will need to try and link as many combos together as possible while you have her on the mat. This gameplay change can make for some very one-sided matches, but that’s a good thing if you’re the winner…. Right?
Now about those five new “warriors” that have been added. The game showcases 14 of the classic fighters such as Kyo Kusangai, Athena Asamita and Ryo Sakazaki, all of whom are now rendered in three whole dimensions. One of the newcomers is Chae Lim, who for some strange reason has replaced SNK’s popular fighter Kim Kaphwan yet kept most of Kim’s masterful Tae Kwon Do skills. There’s also Lien Neville, a female assassin, who will own you unless your skills are up to par. Other new characters include the Meira brothers, Alba and Soiree, and a grappler named Maxima, just to name a few. The characters add some variety to the KOF options, but it’s unlikely that many people will want to stray too far from their favorites.
The special moves for all of these fighters provide some of the prettiest graphical touches in the entire game. The fighting arenas are also nice in that they cover all the basic themes such as city streets, a boxing arena, outdoors settings and an industrial backdrop, just to mention a few. Nothing really seems to stand out in their detailing, though, and they’re not interactive like in many of the newer fighting games (even the miserable Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus had interactive environments). The fighter models can best be described as “OK,” and in addition to not being very detailed, they animate rather stiffly. In other words, KOF: MI looks much better than its 2D counterparts, but it can’t hold a candle to games like DOA Ultimate or Mortal Kombat: Deception.
Likewise, the sounds and voiceovers in KOF: MI can only be described as “horrible.” The cheesy background music and awful voices will almost make you wish your speakers would blow. The game originally had all-Japanese dialog, but it was later translated into English in what sounds like some guy’s basement recording studio. They should have left the Japanese voices and just added subtitles.
King of Fighters: Maximum Impact isn’t a game I would recommend to anyone other than you hardcore KOF fans. There are much better fighting games out there with a lot more to offer for you others.
- Gameplay: 6.5
- Nothing that hasn’t been done before, and the third dimension surprisingly adds nothing.
- Graphics: 5.5
- There’s only one thing to say: it’s lacking in detail.
- Sound: 4
- Bad voiceovers and cheesy music, This is the worst part of the game.
- Replay: 6
- A fairly short story mode, no online play and not much to unlock.
- Overall: 6.5
- KOF fans will enjoy it, but it’s not up to par with the other fighters out right now.
— Randie Kilgore