Developer: Studio Gigante
Released: March 18, 2003
ESRB Rating: M
In Tao feng you play as one of thirteen characters. Six goodies, six baddies, and one unlockable character who we won't discuss.
The Goodies: The Pale Lotus is lead by Master Sage. A feeble old man who bears much resemblance to the feeble old men in other fighting series including Tekken and Virtual Fighter. He and his five co-horts are on a mission to save the world. They do this by recovering objects, piece by piece, stolen from them by the baddies. If they recover all the pieces they will earn the right to bargain with the gods for things like immortality, which they will use to defend good... forever... Yeah.
The Baddies: The Black Mantis is lead by Wulong Goth. He's old but he doesn’t look it. He supposedly uses his powers to retain a youthful appearance. I think it’s the ultra-tight Preying Mantis suit he wears that helps him retain his youthful glow. Either way, he's wicked powerful and I wouldn’t want to cross him in an alley - well lit or other wise. He and his crew stole half of the relics needed to bargain with the Gods from the Pale Lotus. They need the other half. They'll take them piece by piece by beating the snot out of members of the Pale Lotus... They get immortality... the world is theirs to control... much evil ensues... Yeah.
Character Design [9/10]
Balance. There's no better way to put it. This is a key factor to the success of any game, especially fighting games. Every match-up, every battle, and every fight - the win is up for grabs. No one character in this game is ultra-dominant. No Ryu vs. Zangief easy wins. Period.
There are some nice innovations as far as size and reach are concerned. You have your Super-sized cover-art juggernaut in a character named Exile, all the way down to the petite fem-fatale: Jade Dragon.
For those of you who need a little jiggle to um... peak... your interest - five of the characters are female. I know what your next question is, and the answer: Yeah.
Try as I might, I can't find anything wrong with this aspect of the game. The backgrounds are fully destructible. The sunset at the Chinese pier is gorgeous and the view from the penthouse is magnificent. The levels are not multi-tier ala DOA3, but they get the job done. Swinging around poles and attacking from a wall jump is much more fun than throwing your opponent out of a window... maybe not.
Damage on the characters looks like it hurts. Seriously. I saw some gashes on Exiles knuckles after one particularly brutal fight and they reminded me of an injury I received after a bout with a rowdy knife welding fellow one night long ago. Yeah, it hurt.
I haven't seen better in a fighting game. When I do - I'll let you know.
Sound Environment [9/10] Music [1/10]
Turn the music off. No, don't play a few times first. Put the game in, go directly to options and turn the music off. I can't for the life of me find a good reason why game producers use the most generic rock/ancient Chinese/more rock/more ancient Chinese sound samples in fighting games. I also can't think of a good reason why MS - the creator of the Xbox, would publish a game with no support for the custom soundtrack feature. PHHHHHFT!
Dolby Digital 5.1 makes the environments feel real. The environmental sound is very nice. In one instance my wife said to me that she thought the wind chimes in the game were actually outside. Very well done.
Game play [8/10]
I purchased this game on Friday morning. By Friday after-noon I thought I had mastered it, and Friday night I was ready to take it back. Simply put - at first glance the combo/fighting system is too... well... simple. Pull off a six hit combo? No problem. For some characters this is as simple as taping the 'A' button six times. That was a turn off. So I turned the game off, put it in the case and placed it on top of the TV.
It was a few hours later when an idea hit me. If I stop one combo mid-stream and start another can I turn a six hit combo into a 10 hit? 15 hit? 20 hit? Magic. In a matter of hours the seemingly simple combo system went from boring to absolutely thrilling. Now I spend time trying to figure out when to stop combos and where to start new ones for maximum damage. The combo system is as diverse as any of the best fighting games on the market, falling just short of the perfection that is Tekken Tag Tournament. It may be as good as TTT, time will tell.
Overall (not an average) [8.0/10]
Impressive. Gigantes first effort in the fighting game genre turned out well. Graphically unmatched with a good story line, great character design and a deep combo system, this game is sure to please.
Tao feng: Fist of the Lotus - Kiden Approved
Edited by Kiden_Maiku, 18 October 2003 - 01:32 AM.