If the story mode does anything right, it’s that it shows you exactly what you can expect from Maximum Impact. The journey (albeit short) allows you to gauge the other fighters and see a lot of the backgrounds. It allows you to admire how much time SNK spent on making the characters look good in 3D. But as good as the character models are they can’t make up for the uninspired backgrounds, which are a far cry from what 2D fans are used to. There is very little animation to be found in the background, and almost all of them are locations we have been to many, many times before in far better 3D brawlers – parking garages, alleyways, rooftops, clubs, airports, etc.
Once you get tired of the story mode you can move over to a number of other modes featured in the game’s main menu. There is the challenge mode, which has you trying to complete various missions in order to earn bonus items (which will eventually unlock new levels to fight in). There is also a Time Attack Mode which has you racing against the clock; this mode is pretty much the same as you remember it from just about every other fighting game before Maximum Impact. You can also practice it out before you make the full game investment, but most will use the Story Mode for practice.
The game’s best asset comes in the way of Xbox Live support. It doesn’t have the flash or flare that Dead or Alive Ultimate had, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an online SNK game. You can go one on one against just about anybody that is online, or can set up tournaments for people to compete in. Some of these online features are pretty cool, it’s just a shame they aren’t for a better game. Ultimately the online mode is the most compelling reason to keep coming back to Maximum Impact.
The game manages to be a pretty convincing polygonal port of a 2D classic, complete with a lot of familiar characters and their signature moves. But it’s obvious to tell that SNK had to make a few changes in order to offer a worthwhile 3D experience. For one thing, the game doesn’t feature any tag-team action, a staple of the King of Fighters game play. This feature (and several other less important ones) makes this game feel a lot more like a generic 3D fighter and less like the long-running King of Fighters game it’s supposed to be.
Maximum Impact is definitely a step in the right direction and shows that after a couple more tries we might actually see SNK competing with the big boys in the 3D arena. But as of now this King of Fighters game just can’t compete against the likes of Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive, and Mortal Kombat. It’s not a bad 3D fighting game, just one without any bells and whistles.
SNK isnâ€™t known for their 3D fighters, but Maximum Impact manages to stand out as one of their better efforts. Itâ€™s a fast-paced brawler that will remind you of the greatness of King of Fighters while offering a brand new challenge. Itâ€™s not the best fighting game on the market, but will certainly quench the thirst for those who are waiting for a better fighter!
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