King of Fighters: Maximum Impact PS2 Review

The King of Fighters series has now officially enjoyed a decade of success. This 2D fighting franchise has always been one of the biggest rivals to Capcom’s Street Fighter series and the staying power of the brand is further proof of this. Now King of Fighters is entering uncharted land with the shift into 3D.

Temporarily retiring 2D sprites in favour of the more modern 3D polygons may be a natural and long overdue movement for this series, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the personality of the 2D games can be successfully translated into the next dimension. For the record, King of Fighters does look lovely in 3D, but there has been some failure in transforming it all – a risk that had to be taken. Perhaps cel-shaded graphics would have been a better option.

Maximum Impact offers everything you’d expect from a 3D fighter of this day and in this sense the transition has been successful. Whilst you won’t be finding yourself falling off high platforms, the use of walls is still a welcome feature for the series as there’s nothing quite like the cheeky tactics of pinning your opponent against the bricks. At least the development team have actually been making use of the 3D makeover and assuring that their game hasn’t pulled any punches next to the fierce 3D fighting competition.

You can perform all manner of evasive actions such as sidestepping and the customary King of Fighters roll. The potential of temporarily breaking an opponents guard also adds in an extra level of strategy for both fighters. Elsewhere it’s business as usual and the staggering amount of depth that has come to be associated with the series is still present, if on a lesser scale. It has to be said that the available combo attacks (or stylish moves) are rather button masher friendly, which may not sit well with the franchises massive fan following.

The character line-up is miniscule compared to past King of Fighters titles and also a little suspect with the removal of some of the major favourites. Five new characters enter the fray alongside some of the returning faces. In the case of Chae Lim, she isn’t exactly a new character though as she is basically a Taekwondo clone of absent favourite, Kim Kaphwan. At least the rest are pretty fresh and others such as Terry Bogard, Iori Yagami and Mai Shiranui etc assure plenty of familiarity for the returning players.

Big fans may find that one or two of their favourite characters are missing from the roster and also take a dislike to the added polygons at the same time. True, King of Fighters: Maximum impact may not be the greatest 3D fighting title in the world, but it still managed to impress us with its solid brawls and that’s a mark of any good fighter.