Review: It isn't the king but KOF MIM is still pretty good.
When the first King of Fighters came out for the Neo Geo in 1994 it was built to be the ultimate fighting game. Whether or not you agree that KOF 94 was the best game of the time, it sure made the creators (SNK) a lot of money. Over the years though, the many 2D sequels haven't changed the overall game too much and by 2000 the whole thing was just looking old and tired. King of Fighters: Maximum Impact marks the first time the series has finally done 3D. The game already came out for the PlayStation 2 and now Xbox players can try this fun game as well, complete with Xbox Live support. So is this port worth picking up?
The story in KOF:MIM (if you can call it a real story) centers on an exclusive fighting tournament sponsored by the evil ?Mephistopheles'; the toughest criminal gang in Southtown (a town made famous in another Neo Geo game). Once you win enough fights you then get a chance to challenge the satanic Duke: the leader of this powerful gang. Although that story sounds fairly cool and edgy, the game's life and death atmosphere is completely ruined by this total tool with tall curly blonde hair wearing an ugly green suit. This goof just stands there looking like a complete moron and introduces each contest. Sadly, he isn't the only character that annoys me in this game.
In KOF:MIM you get to select one fighter from a cast of 19 that range from popular guys like the fire throwing Kyo, cap wearing Terry Bogard, and the underdressed Mai Shiranui, to a few odd, rather unoriginal newcomers as well. These so called ?new guys' are your typical metrosexual males with spiked hair, and the two new females are your standard overly cute girl (Mingnon) and yet another sexy secret agent (Lien) with big boobs. C'mon, I don't know why fighting games have to use these old cookie-cutter characters, but it has to stop.
Each one of these fighters comes with their own list of moves and special attacks and surprisingly they were all fairly easy to pull off. One of the best things about KOF:MIM is that it has absolutely dead on controls and the game moves lightning fast too, so it feels like an arcade game. After a few moments of playing I was able to perform combos and special moves with no problem, so if you are a fan of the original games, this really keeps the tradition alive.
Perhaps the reason the game moves so quickly and so well is because of its somewhat sub-par graphics. The new 3D graphics are certainly a step up from the older 2D games, but they are still far from perfect. Don't get me wrong, the character models are well animated and I love all of their crazy costumes, but they also look more like plastic dolls than real human fighters. The game does look a bit cleaner on the Xbox, but it is definitely not the best looking on the system and it also has the same terrible lip-syncing as the PS2 version.
That moves me to what KOF:MIM has for sounds. Well, let's just say it's not very good. I don't know who SNK hired to do the character voice-overs, but they have as much emotion as a block of cheese. Fighters like Yuri and Rock Howard are especially bad. Also the background music is nothing but low key rock that just barely does the job here.
The new Xbox Live feature is a great way to find other fans of the KOF series around the world, because there are certainly not too many where I live. The online lag and choppiness isn't too bad compared to other games, and there is a good selection of modes including various single matches and tournaments. Sadly, the game doesn't come with the bonus DVD like the PS2 version had, so there is a bit of a trade-off with these new online options.