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KOF Maximum Impact
  opened by paleface at 04:12:54 10/26/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Fighting; reg=NA]
KOF goes 3D in decent if somewhat dated fashion. The problem is that there are other 3D fighters already, that have already had time to go through several revisions, and have bigger budgets and shinier graphics, leaving KOF:MI looking somewhat behind the times. And geez let's hope this doesn't hold up the 2D versions, for goodness' sake!
The game is fun in a mashy kind of way because it's really slanted toward offense, as far as I can see: although there are 3D evade moves (sidestep) now, you can pummel people mercilessly while they're down, and there's a really, really quickly broken guard crush meter. The end boss, for instance, fights pretty stupid, but loves to just sort of bounce your prone body around the walls and floor while you wonder why you can't stand up. Oh, and super meters charge up three charges ridiculously quickly.
The moves also don't have the timing of the 2D games, everything seems to swing around really fast for the most part, and you can combo a whole lot of things that you couldn't in the 2D games. That wasn't enough, I suppose, so they went and added tons of chain combos to each character.
The characters are pretty well rendered for the most part, with some goofy, some nifty costumes. The new characters feel maybe a bit overpowered, but that's not exactly unusual. They also have more of a Tekken-ish feel, I suppose that was to be expected going 3D and all. All characters have a lot of voice samples, some of them are pretty good, some of them are pretty darn annoying (Ralf...).
Aside from Story mode, which is pretty brief, there's Training of course, and time attack, which seems pretty pointless really, then Mission mode, stealing ideas from other 3D fighters (uh mainly Soul Calibur--see entry 328--springs to mind, I guess) where you have to win a fight in a specific way. You can unlock additional costume colors and stuff doing that, but it feels like a sideshow anyway.
The presentation was much more impressive than I'd anticipated, given that KOF always seems to have a pretty small budget. But in the "Double Pack" with this game also came a Terry Bogard "Fatal Fury" baseball cap, how clever, and a second DVD case with a DVD of interviews, character bios and so forth. Mostly filler, but the interviews are interesting as they're with the Japanese design team (translated, of course), talking about difficulties involved in going 3D and so on. And the game's menus and character art and such all have a pretty good look about them, and besides the copious voice clips there's also a lot of victory poses, taunts, etc, none of which makes the game itself better, but it gives the game a more mainstream budget feel than SNK has had in the past.
I just hope they don't break the bank on this one. They can't quite catch up to the established 3D leaders in one fell swoop, and many 2D fans will not be pleased with this foray into the third dimension. Will it pick up enough of a following on its own to recoup dev costs? I kind of doubt it. Just go high-res 2D already, SNK! Come to think of it, the DVD mentioned an arcade version of this game, but I don't think there ended up being one...
Anyway, I will admit that it came out a little better than the total disaster it very well could have been. It's thrashy and awash in overblown colored lighting, but you can have some spasmodic fun with it, and it can be entertaining to see what's become of the old characters that were subjected to this expensive experiment.
  paleface 04:44:24 12/13/04
Played this two-player Vs, and the slightly fudginess of the controls became evident. Especially when jumping--I wish there was a 3D fighter that had jumping as natural as a 2D fighter. Also the backgrounds got really boring, and they've moved around regular special moves to different commands or something. But we still played it for a fairly long time to look at what they've done with all the characters.

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