King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 PlayStation 2
Published by: Ignition Entertainment
Developed by: SNK Playmore
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst reviewing King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2, I also happened to be reviewing The King of Fighters XI as both games arrived simultaneously at Deaf Gamers HQ. In some ways that was a little unfortunate for King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2. The King of Fighters XI showed that a classic formula shouldn't be changed in order to appeal to a wider audience and it was a better game for it. In fact SNK Playmore had refined the classic formula to make it even more appealing to fans of the series. King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 takes a different route however and is a 3D fighter that's clearly aimed at a more general audience. Sure it's probably more visually appealing but you can't help but feel it's an inferior product when compared to The King of Fighters XI.
King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 offers a Story, Versus, Challenge (which includes Time Attack, Quest Survival and missions modes) and Practice mode. The game initially offers 24 characters to choose from but by the time you've unlocked them all you'll have a total of almost 40, which is quite impressive for a 3D fighting title. As well as extra characters to unlock there are character costumes, levels and mini-games to discover too. The game also claims to have an improved fighting system thanks to the ability to now block and parry your opponent's attacks.
Compared to the impressive The King of Fighters XI, Maximum Impact 2 feels disappointing although that's not to say it's a bad game. There are no 3 VS 3 battles to be had. The AI seems pretty lacklustre and for the most part doesn't put up that much of a challenge. One exception to this easy difficulty level is the boss fights where the boss seems far superior to the other characters you'll face and is quite capable of giving your fighter a hiding. It's obviously been tailored to be more appealing to those who wouldn't touch a 2D fighting game with a barge pole but the combat system feels fairly shallow, as if it's been streamlined from the 2D games, and it's certainly difficult to see anyone preferring this to the Virtua Fighter and Tekken games. Had online play been included it may have been a saving grace. Whilst the Japanese version had online play it's sadly been removed for this European release, which is a shame.
As we've already mentioned, Maximum Impact 2 is a 3D fighting game and given this is the case it's only natural that a good looking game is expected. Compared to the many 3D fighters on the PlayStation 2, Maximum Impact 2 looks a little bland and, a little out of date. The character models certainly aren't as detailed as they could have been and look like they have been taken from an early PlayStation 2 game as opposed to one that's appeared in the consoles twilight. The characters certainly don't have the charm of the 2D sprites that are used in The King of Fighters XI but to be honest I don't think the characters in any of the 3D fighting games have managed to retain their charm from earlier 2D versions. The levels you'll fight in aren't particularly impressive either. The game supports 50 and 60Hz and the frame rate is rock solid throughout.
Maximum Impact 2 is a little better than The King of Fighters XI in terms of its suitability for deaf gamers. There are subtitles and they are enabled by default. These subtitles are rather simplistic and are displayed using white text on a dark overlay. There are no character names or portraits placed next to the subtitles. Comments made by the announcer on the menus and during the fight are not subtitled but all comments made by the fighters prior to and after the fight are subtitled. The fighters make the odd remark during a battle but these comments are not subtitled. The omissions are no cause for concern however and deaf gamers will have no problems with the game.
The problem King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 has is that for fans of the King of Fighters series it will seem like a disappointment when you compare it to the rather impressive The King of Fighters XI. For anyone else it's going to be compared to the many other 3D fighting games out there but even here it fails to impress. Visually the game looks dated with the character models looking inferior to those found in most other PlayStation 2 3D fighting games. Still it would be incorrect to say King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 is a bad game because it certainly isn't. In fact taken in isolation (and considering the asking price of just £14.99) I have to admit it holds its own quite well. The problem is that I don't think it's just not good enough to lure fans of 3D fighting games away from the games they have probably being enjoying for quite a while now.
King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 certainly isn't a bad game but it just doesn't compare with the many 3D fighters that are on the PlayStation 2.