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March 15, 2005
King of Fighters: Maximum Impact - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
4/3/2005QV SoftwareSNK Playmore1- 2MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
100KBStereoYesNoNoneNo

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Backgrounds are quite nice.
SNK - hardcore, elite, perfectionists, 2D legends. It's sad then to hear that the company that was once king of the 2D sprite based game, and the superb Neo Geo hardware, almost disappeared entirely. The move to 3D took a major toll on SNK and it's insistence on staying with 2D pleased the hardcore gamers, but couldn't sell in numbers. Fortunately Playmore bought out the remnants and formed SNK Playmore. Realising the need for 3D games the company soon started development of King of Fighters: Maximum Impact a title which has been in development for two years now, and promises to deliver the first SNK styled fighting game in three dimensions. Have they succeeded? For the most part, yes.

A city lay in ruins as rival gangs are at war all vying for the chance to rule the underworld of Southtown. A small group destined to take the city back has established a meeting with the maniacal leader of the most powerful gang, 'Mephistopheles'. On one condition, to be in this meeting, one must prove themselves by defeating the greatest fighters in the world.

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Character select screen.
Developed exclusively for the Playstation 2 King of Fighters: Maximum Impact includes 19 characters to select from with most moves translated perfectly from the older sprite based titles, and we know, we have the Neo Geo originals here to compare it to! Being a 3D title there have been some minor changes to the gameplay, most notable being the inclusion of a sidestep and 4 different jump moves. An all new knock back attack feature allows you to send your opponent sailing through the air - it always looks wonderful in action. This game still uses the D-Pad for movement which, given the 3D graphics and number of other fighting games using analogue sticks seems like a step backwards, but it does allow the game to retain the feel of the older King of Fighters titles.

What really impresses is the effort which SNK Playmore have made in the area of game modes. A Practice Mode allows you to practice your moves against a CPU controlled opponent, a human controlled opponent or even watch two CPU controlled characters battle. A Challenge mode allows you to take on a variety of tasks, many of which are timed. By completing these challenges new items such as costumes or stages are unlocked. A Versus mode includes single play for one-on-one battles against the CPU or another human while team play allows you to battle against the computer or another human in a three-on-three battle. It's the story mode which will keep you occupied the longest as you follow the storylines for each character.

As an added bonus gamers who pick up the Collectors Edition get a detailed character moves book, which is wonderfully printed as well as an exclusive "Making Of" bonus disc. I had a look at the disc and while it isn't overly detailed it is a nice, and welcome, addition to the package.

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One of the nice effects.
There are a couple of issues I had with this game. It does feel a little too easy to pick up and play. That's not a bad thing, but it makes the game seem a little less 'hardcore' then normal. Having said that in typical SNK style this game seems to hit extreme difficulty when it comes to the final boss, Duke. He's as tough as nails and beating him will take some stunning skills. Perhaps SNK should have toned him down a little while making the last couple of fights before reaching him a little tougher.

Visually SNK Playmore has done an admirable job with this title. The developers have managed to retain the style of the game while also making the characters look solid in 3D. Backgrounds deserve some mention, while not as polished as those in Namco's fighting game they are decent enough. The most important aspect of any fighting game is the animation and in that regard King of Fighters Maximum Impact does a very solid job with some nice fighting moves on all of the characters.

I don't know why is happens, but why is it that almost every single fighting game that gets ported from Japan to America/Europe has some of the most horrific voice dubbing? The scripts probably don't help much either. The music on the other hand is quite catchy and appropriate for this game.

Overall King of Fighters: Maximum Impact is a game which fighting fans should check out. Certainly fans of the series should have no hesitation at all. The game modes are impressive and the audio visual aspect clean. Well worth considering.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC version)
GRAPHICSThe transition to 3D has retained the 2D style quite well indeed.
74%
SOUNDMusic is OK, but what is it with shit dubbing in fighting games?
68%
GAMEPLAYSimplistic but easy to pick up and play. KOF:MI is quite enjoyable.
77%
VALUEA wide range of fighters and gameplay modes makes this good value.
71%
OVERALLKing of Fighters: Maximum Impact is quite an impressive game in the shift from 2D to 3D. For fans of the King of Fighters games this is an essential purchase, for fighting game fans it's worth considering and casual gamers should also have a look as well.
73%

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