Publisher: SNK NEOGEO USA CONSUMER CORPORATION
Developer: SNK Playmore
N Amer - 06/28/2005
- Also available on:
King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact Review
Having been released first for the PS2 as a collector’s item with an extra disc chock full of interviews and character profiles, King of the Fighters: Maximum Impact didn’t set the fighting genre on fire but it was the first time fans of the 2D SNK series got to see favorite characters in 3D. Well I’m happy to report that Xbox owners can now sink their teeth into a healthy dose of fighting action with King of the Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax. It still might not set the fighting genre aflame but it has all the things fighting fans could ever ask for including online multiplayer.
Having been a fan of the series in its original 2D form, Maximum Impact Maniax brings the same 2D fighting and made its world and characters third dimensional. The huge lineup is filled with familiar faces such as Terry Bogard, Yuri Sakazaki or favorite Mai Shiranui to name a few. It also introduces new characters such as blonde, busty assassin Lien Neville, brothers Alba and Soiree Meira or the unusually cheerful Mignon Beart. Each fighter, of course, brings his or her own unique fighting style and specialty move that (if you’re a fan, anyway) is recognizable right off the bat. Mai, for instance, grabs her opponents using her feet and slams them headfirst into the ground.
As far as fighting games go the King of the Fighters series was always about its over-the-top string of combo attacks that often seem endless if you don’t block often. Its arcade style remains intact even in its 3D form. As for the modes, there’s a Challenge mode that comes with a Time Trail mode and a Mission mode that’s filled with four levels of objective-based challenges. One mission has you attempting to crush an opponent’s guard while another has you attempting to KO an opponent within 30 seconds. The cool part is that completing these mission objects unlocks alternative costume, hair or skin colors for each of your fighters. There’s also a Versus Mode (with single or a three-on-three team based battle) and a Practice Mode. As an added Xbox-only exclusive, there’s even a sort of Picture Mode for Versus Mode that allows you to pause the game and snap a picture of your fighters in action to keep in a photo album.
The game’s Story Mode pits your chosen fighter against a string of other fighters that entered the King of the Fighters Tournament sponsored by a new corporation that’s basically just a cover for a gang at war with the Southside. The story for each character is the same and so is the outcome (with the exception of newcomer Lien who has a more personal stake) so don’t expect individualized endings. Everyone must go through end boss Duke who, frustratingly enough, unfairly unleashes a brutal attack that can finish you off faster than you can blink an eye.
Control-wise, Maximum Impact Maniax is really good but it could have been a lot better. It lacks the simplicity we’re now use to since we’ve been introduced to the DOA fighting games and a truer sense of style for each individual fighter. As a 2D game it’s easy to distinguish Iori’s fighting style but here it is less style and more impact. Still, even without the sense of polish in the fighting styles, the game feels right at home on the Xbox than it did when it was released for the PlayStation 2. For one thing, its easier to string a few interesting combos attacks and the perfect use of the left trigger makes for some effective blocking moves. In short, placed side by side, it’s the Xbox version that clearly comes off as the winner thanks to better controls.
Another noticeable addition is the fact that, unlike the PS2 version, this one boasts an Xbox Live multiplayer mode and it‘s actually done right. Not only does it offer a nice number of options that can be used to create your own tournaments, but also there’s a leaderboard to check out (and challenge) the current reigning champions as well as competitions to enter. The best part, though, is that the game runs at the same fast and smooth framerate the single-player mode offers. It makes multiplayer one-on-one matches fast and fun, and with enough characters and arenas to pick from it more than makes up the long delay Xbox owners had to wait.
Of course, Maximum Impact Maniax’s main attraction is the fact that this game sports 3D characters for the first time. Having been a fan of the series it was a rare treat to see classic favorites like Terry, Mai and Leona rendered in nicely detailed 3D. They might lack facial expressions that show some inkling of emotion but at least they move naturally enough and there are a healthy amount of costume changes and color (skin or hair) options to unlock and pick. There’s a number of flashy visual effects thrown in during combos attacks and each player has a taunt. The backgrounds don’t take advantage of the Xbox but at least they look excellent.
As for the sound, the game lacks in the sound effects department. Not only do punches and chained combos sound alike but they don’t exactly make you feel the impact as, say, the recent Mortal Kombat game on the Xbox. There’s no shattering of glass or concrete and there’s no real pain in the fighters’ cries. And speaking of cries, when characters are defeated or win matches they tend to spout out some truly vexing and often cheesy remarks. Some of the character dialogue before each fight is even hard to make out. There’s an option to change all dialogue to Japanese and this actually does make dialogue sound way better even if you don’t understand the language. As for the soundtrack, there are some heavy guitar riffs and in-your-face rock tunes that aren’t bad but not great either. You’ll be thankful that the music never gets annoying.
Mainly a true fan’s dream come true, King of the Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax on the Xbox translates well enough to make this one a decent fighter worthy of the series. Does it evolve the series into new heights of fisticuff bliss? Not really, but it’s still fun enough to be enjoyed by those who love a good brawling game with a lot to offer.
Review Scoring Details for King of the Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax
Its switch to 3D doesn’t tarnish the King of the Fighters style and that might be both a blessing and a curse. It’s still fun to chain some really neat combo attacks and familiar specialty moves and even more so thanks to the control scheme designed with the Xbox in mind. There are also some great game modes and enough fighters (new and old) to pick from among the lineup.
Maximum Impact Maniax looks great as a 3D game with its recognizable characters looking better than they ever have. The character models move naturally enough but they occasionally lack a sense of personality that other characters possess. Still, with a nice number of effects, animations and decent backgrounds, it’s not a bad-looking game.
The sound, on the other hand, doesn’t resonate as impressively as the visuals but at least the soundtrack is tolerable and sometimes even really good. The voice acting comes off as a bit on the cheesy side so you’ll be glad you can switch the dialogue to Japanese.
The single player modes add plenty of challenges during the game’s story mode but final boss Duke’s seemingly never-ending string of combos he unleashes on you is just ridiculous and impossible to break through. Expect to face him multiple times and weep like a little girl.
Seeing King of the Fighter favorites evolve from 2D to wonderfully rendered 3D fighters is a nice treat (especially if you’ve always admired Mai’s surreal jiggle). It’s also great to see a SNK make up for not releasing this one at the same time as the PS2 version by adding cool new content such as the ability to snap a picture to capture a cool screenshot. And, unlike the PS2, we get Xbox Live multiplayer fun.
Yes, that’s right, I said we get Xbox Live multiplayer fun and it runs so smoothly you’ll be playing this one often online. Aside from tournaments, leaderboards and player-designed competitions; there are enough options to create your own matches. Really, this is how a fighting game should work online.
True to the King of the Fighters franchise, Maximum Impact Maniax is a solid fighting game that might not be big on personality but packs quite a punch on the Xbox. With the addition of some interesting modes, features, tighter gameplay and Xbox Live support this one certain beats the PS2 version. If you’re a fan of the series this one should be among your collection.
King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact Comments
GameZone Review Detail
True to the King of the Fighters franchise, Maximum Impact Maniax is a solid fighting game that might not be big on personality but packs quite a punch on the Xbox
Reviewer: Eduardo Zacarias
Review Date: 07/11/2005