Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus
by Microsoft Game Studios
As the owner of a Xbox you'll probably be thrilled to bits to have what I consider to be the best beat 'em up of all time, Dead or Alive 3. However, it's been a long time since it was released and even the greatest fans of Dead or Alive 3 will now be looking for something different, but equally as good. There has been other beat 'em up titles released on Xbox since but none have really been any good. Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus is a beat 'em up with a more brutal edge and is easily the best beat 'em up since Dead or Alive 3.
If you thought Mortal Kombat was the only beat 'em up where you see the blood fly then think again. In Fist of the Lotus you'll not only see the characters blood fly but they will bruise and become battered and even suffer limb damage to the point where they are no good for anything. This adds a remarkable twist to the gameplay and it's surprisingly refreshing to see a game that attempts to manage physical damage in such a way. If you don't want the whole limb damage and blood bath though, it can be turned off. Either way this is a great fighting game that easily rivals any title on any machine.
The game comes with a variety of modes. There's Versus, Survival, Team Battle, Tournament, Training and Quest. The Quest mode sees you picking a fighter from either the Pale Lotus or Black Mantis clan. The Pale Lotus are the good guys whilst the Black Mantis are the face of evil. Basically the idea is to fight your way to gaining the opponents artefact of power. Of course it's just a 'thin as a veil' plot with plenty of fighting but nevertheless every beat 'em up seems to have this type of story mode so they must be popular.
To add a twist to the gameplay a super magical attack has been given to each fighter. To use this attack you must fill your Chi meter. This is partially filled with each successful attack that you make. Once filled you can launch a special attack on your opponent. The bad news is that the AI is razor sharp and will use it's special attack on you without hesitation. There are 6 difficulty settings in all and whilst the novice will feel comfortable with the lower two, the expert will be seriously challenged on the higher two difficulty settings. This is one beat 'em up where you can't win with a series of repetitive moves like you can in so many others.
Graphically Fist of the Lotus looks good but it's not quite up to the same standard of Dead or Alive 3 although there is still a fair amount of boob bounce included. It still looks good though and it's great to see you can cause damage to your surroundings. The physical damage that you inflict looks fairly realistic and the developers haven't gone over the top and made the game gory, which is pleasing to see. The only disappointment graphically would be that the blood looks rather blocky but this is a small complaint and as I mentioned earlier it can be turned off if you wish.
Thankfully subtitles can be enabled in the system settings, although they are not turned on by default. As a result of enabling the subtitles nearly all verbal information will be shown in text, some of the comments made in the tutorial are missing, although these aren't important. Otherwise there are absolutely no problems for deaf gamers with Fist of the Lotus.
It may have been a long time coming but the Xbox has another beat 'em up of real quality. Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus is a great beat 'em up that will challenge even veterans of the genre. Because of the blood and physical damage that can be inflicted it's bound to be labelled as a Mortal Kombat clone but in my opinion that's unfair as what we have here is infinitely better than any of the MK games. The combo system is perhaps as good as any other but the game's true strength lies in the AI's ability to give you a very tough challenge. This is definitely one for newbies and veterans alike.
Game Rating: 8.9/10