The King Of Fighters 2000 Review
The King Of Fighters series, undoubtedly most popular NeoGeo fighting saga, is held in highest regards with many Neo gamers and non-neo gamers alike. The latest installment in this groundbreaking series is The King Of Fighters 2000, which features brand new characters, a renovated combo system, and all the fun you could ever spend your money on. Now as other people often review KOF games according to their predecessors, great KOF games sometimes receive poor scores because of missing/added features in/not in previous games which may totally alter a style of gameplay. Fortunately, I haven't played many of the other KOF games extensively, so this will be a "pure" review, whose mindset shall exist in this game only.
The KOF 2K graphics are the best of any KOF game. From every little fireball to every huge supermove, the animation and graphic detail is astounding. It's just nuts what these SNK programmers can do with an 11-year-old machine. (Try this PSX!) The graphics are very sharp and polished without any palette switches/face jobs, further showing the SNK team's skills. Next to a Naomi, these 2D graphics are unmatched. The flashier hit and counter effects make the game all the more exciting, showing off the NeoGeo's graphical power. The only drawback in the graphics dept. would be the lack of backgrounds. There are only 4, including the boss stage. However, when you look at it overall, graphics are NOT a problem.
Sound in KOF2K is quite clear, especially in stereo mode. Although I can't say I like all of the tracks selected, they all have their own charm. The hit noises are crystal clear and are hard and loud. There's also a good variety of hit noises so that you don't keep hearing the constant slam every 5 seconds. The voices are very clear and audible, although I think some of them sound ripped from previous games, such as some of Mai's win samples and such. Many character's voices have been re-recorded however, which sound perfect. Although I think Shingo's die sample is a bit much... ;-)
Control in Neo games is usually never an issue, especially in this case. It's usually due to the great Neo stick, which we've all come to know and love (well, maybe not all, some people prefer pads). Control is EXTRA tight I've noticed, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. You may have you make your motions a little more proposed, which can be more difficult in some cases, as well as easier in others. Performing combos is not a problem. Reactions are instant, and there aren't any delays which could ruin your combos. The button layout is the same, but it never needed to be changed. Multi-button actions are executed with ease, and all multi-button actions are mapped out intelligently and usefully. I personally think that the control is perfect.
KOF2K is difficult. Probably not for many other KOF masters, but for intermediates like me, it takes skill to complete the game on MVS (level 4) using only one credit. While it should provide a challenge for those who progress well, masters may not find a CPU opponent as anything more than a walking training bag on level 8.
KOF2K's gameplay mechanics deal mainly with characters, game balance, and the fighting engine itself. In terms of characters, the KOF2K cast is great. sporting 7 new characters, 6 of which are playable*. These characters are Vanessa, Kula, Seth, Ramon, Lin, Hinako, and Zero. Each character in my opinion is a great addition, with the exception of Ramon. A new addition to KOF2K is it's Another Strikers and Maniac Strikers. Another Strikers are complements to regular characters which can
be used as strikers only. This allows for WAY more customization and options than strikers themselves. Maniac Strikers are hidden strikers which are accessed through a code, which are available only with certain characters. The code is as follows: when choosing your striker, choose "Another Striker". then, press Up, Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Right, Down. If the character you selected as your striker has a maniac striker assigned to it, your Another Striker will turn into a Maniac Striker. I won't reveal those characters right now, I think it'd be more fun if you discover them yourself.
In terms of balance, this game isn't balanced very well, but not too horribly either. At first glance, you'll think that many characters are weaker than others, although when played enough and mastered, any character should be able to demolish anyone. While this is usually a tough feat, it only goes to show that a game is only unbalanced when a character isn't used the right way.
The fighting engine is where the game really shines. The game's combo system makes combos almost completely user customizable. Each mode lets players do strings they'd never been able to do before. While the standard, no effect mode will allow for many many different combos, the other two modes, Armor and Counter, give you extra options and ways to break your opponents. Armor mode, when activated, lets you sustain hits while doing a move or comboing without the hit animation. This mode also takes damage off of the hits you sustain, and can make you literally unstoppable in your comboing. Counter Mode lets you cancel super combos from almost any attack. For example: You could cancel a super combo from a 1 button attack, which would normally not come out fast enough in standard mode. This mode also makes you stronger, giving you the most combo ability available in the game.
The fighting engine is much more complicated than this review allows. I could write way more on this topic alone, but it would take much too long and would be almost useless. The key word is almost. The fighting engine is a real work of art. The combos are insane, and totally free. This, in my opinion, is the best part of the game.
Is KOF2K fun to play? There are so many words to answer that question, but they are all synonymous with this one: YES. KOF2K is a great, great masterpiece by SNK. The game just never gets old, and is most fun when playing a good opponent. I once had a 4 hour marathon with my friend one night, and we only stopped because we needed sleep! :-p The game's fun factor simply doesn't diminish. The game has tiny, tiny flaws which only true KOF nit-pickers would pick out; but in all honesty, I don't think they detract from the game. KOF2K is definitely worth your while, and it will continue to entertain me for years to come. BUY IT NOW!
Overall Score: 9.8/10
*6 of the 7 new characters are playable without a debug chip in your Neo. Zero, the normally unplayable new character, is playable using a debug bios chip. For more information, go to:
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