King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax


King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Maniax review
A solid fighter that almost lives up to it's title

The good:

Excellent graphics. Surprisingly fast-paced gameplay. Some interesting extra features included. Online play.

The bad:

Some notable frame rate issues. Rather shallow gameplay.


One of the newest installments in SNK's main fighting franchise, KOF maximum Impact Maniax brings its own unique fighting style to the Xbox, bringing with it 20 familiar KOF & Fatal Fury fighters as well as a hybrid of 2D/3D fighting to mix up the standard fighting engine.

The graphics are surprisingly good. The characters are very nicely rendered in 3D and show a high amount of detail matched by a very smooth and fast frame rate, although every now & then some animations seem to skip entire frames, a flaw that is easily noticeable. Backgrounds are very well detailed as well but don't offer a lot of interaction. Sounds are average, generally consisting of standard fighting and impact sounds during battles. Voices are plentiful but are good or bad depending largely on your personal preferences: The english voices are rather uninspired and off-sync with the character acting, but the Japanese voices sound just like in the arcades and are much more fun to listen to, and they tend to better reflect the characters' personalities. Controls are responsive and fairly easy to learn despite the slightly awkward 4-button setup used by the games. Most moves, including those ridiculously complex 8-direction-input moves are easy to pull off, although sometimes the frame rate problems might result in minor issues. Gameplay is primarily standard 2D-based fighting, although some 3D elements are included but limited mainly to evasive maneuvers. There are a good 20 or so fighters to choose from (including one unlockable), each with their own fighting style, but the real draw is the personalities of the fighters. They range from traditional to totally off-the wall; One character's outfit makes her look like a bonafide catgirl, and she even fights like it. fans of both KOF & Fatal Fury will recognize many characters, like Terry Bogard, Iori Yagami, and of course the ever-bouncy ninja-girl Mai Shiranui, and there are other unique characters like military woman Leona & Soiree, who is a definitive rip-off of Eddy from the Tekken games. The game modes include standard 1-player story, which is rather short, vs. play, and a Mission mode where you can unlock new costumes by winning matches under various conditions. It isn't very deep, though, given that despite all the moves & combos available sometimes you can win with button-mashing or trapping an opponent and repeating the same move over and over again.
Online play is also present, but the most interesting feature is the screen capture tool: By pausing the game and accessing it during gameplay you can take a screenshot and save it to your Xbox Hard Disk-needless to say, if you get really creative it's something you can have a lot of fun with.

Although the shallow gameplay keeps this from living up to it's "King of Fighters" title, this still is a surprisingly solid fighting game that can hold its own against the likes of the Street Fighter & Dead Or Alive series. It's a great pickup for KOF fans and either a surprisingly good buy or at least a long weekend rental for those new to the franchise.

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