Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
May 10th 2003
Introduction:Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus is the latest Xbox exclusive fighting game. Ascetically Tao Feng is a amazing game and on its face value it seems like it was going to come out as one of the best fighting experience ever created for a console…. And that is only until you play it. (enter disappointing sigh) Tao Feng isn’t a horrible game, it just doesn’t flow like a fighter should.
The Game:If I had to refer the gameplay style to any other game it would clearly be Mortal Kombat. Both games have similar character movement, mysterious characters and similar fighting styles. I found the same problems within Mortal Kombat as in Tao Feng, mainly which is the blocky wooden feel of the controls and the movement in the game. The collision detection and character response I felt was below par and doesn’t seem to capture the motion like a fighter should. A good example would be the fluid motion and style of DOA3 or Virtual Fighter. If Toa Feng would have grabbed some more seamless combat it had what it takes to become a true classic in the fighting genre. Question: Why can’t you rotate around your character clockwise? Only counter clock? Strange indeed, I agree.
For the good, and Tao Feng has several gameplay good points. One is that they included multiple gameplay modes to bust some faces in. Quest mode which is like story mode caught my eye and had an added element of character introductions that helped me get more involved with this fighter. In Quest mode when your characters is introduced a mentor type voice will tell you the background history between you and your opponent and at times strategies to overcome and win the challenge. Quest mode is like story mode where you have to choose the path of good or bad essentially and fight a series of battles. This mode has the most redeeming qualities out of the game. The other modes are your standard versus, tournament and survival, nothing you haven’t played before. This brings in the story mode of the two factions fighting reasons to be at war. Good vs. Evil that type of deal.
I found the game to be pretty hard at first while I had to deal with the clunky controls and the bad grapple and blocking system implemented in the game. If you stay long enough and you are a master of console fighters you will enjoy that the level can be propelled into an impressive level of difficulty.
Overall the gameplay in Tao Feng is the weakest aspect, which is a shame because gameplay is always the most important part of a game. Tao Feng does have many cool features outside of the Quest mode in the combat which I didn’t mention in the gameplay segment, which I am going to cover now in Innovation.
Graphics & Sound:While the actual controls of the combat weren’t good, included where several cool modes where some of my expectations where met and other didn’t. I was following the developments of Tao Feng fairly close and what the end product came to be and what they claimed it would do are two different worlds. Although they should be applauded for the attempt to try something new in an overdone genre.
The environments boasted to have destructible elements in them, which they do and it’s definitely cool to smash people into or through a glass case or some wooden crates. Plus the environments have different levels, where in you might have to fight up a set of stairs and balance your techniques based on you surroundings, such as swinging on poles or jumping off walls. These are all cool features some of them which add a bit to the gameplay, but it doesn’t affect the combat as to the extent I expected.
Another feature which is done fairly well, which didn’t live up to expectations (sorry if they are too high ? ) is that real time damage to the appearance of the fighters. The damage isn’t actually real time, when you win or loose a round your fighter will get up sporting bruises, ripped clothing and blood, no matter where they got hit in the fight. It works in a 3 round system where as after each round your body will be more tattered damaged. This looks very cool and it’s the first game to attempt this into its fighting game, but since it’s just a skin that loads over the character it isn’t as believable as if it was happening when you are in mid combat.
Where the damage effects work and work fairly well is when you block too much or take too much damage in one area on your body, your limbs can become weakened to the point where they aren’t as affective. The characters can loose power on attacking and speed when their limb becomes too damaged. The best thing is that they characters will hold their hurt arm or limp over to you and continue the battle injured. This is a feature that I hope other games pick up on.
Innovation:The graphics in Tao are amazing, well shaded and meticulously detailed. The development of the areas and characters tends to be on the evil and darkness vibe, which is cool giving the context of the story. The effects when the characters take damage is great. The Xbox felt cooler than this. Another thing the graphics do well in the game are the power-up moves from the characters. The effects of Vapor's temporization or Exiles fire is jaw dropping. They did a good job of balancing the colours within the whole game. You can tell as soon as you power up this sucka that they have spent a few hours developing the graphics engine within the game.
The sounds in Tao are average. The fit the game as you would expect. The voice over's are done well and the two masters speak in a great tone. Very cool. The one thing if i had to pick on the sound would be that in allot of the environments, even when not needed there is too much Reverb on the sound effects. Now how can everything echo in a open field. Overall the sound is good, sounds cool in surround :)
Mojo:Krikey, there certainly is some mojo brewing in Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus. Tao Feng has some great features and tries to do so many things right. I love the predictable, yet still enjoyable tension between the two clans. The Pale Lotus, the good clan vs. the Black Mantis, you can guess… Evilness abroad. I was digging the cool characters the evil badness of Exile. Great outfits on those ladies. The character design and diversity brings a lot to this game. And to quote Fierce Tiger – “Cats always land on there feet.” Tao Feng revs up the mojo and gives a cool aurora to two people fighting.
Lowdown:Tao Feng has more good points then bad points. This game is done fairly well, and if you liked the feel of Mortal Kombat you should enjoy this game. Give it an extra final point, if you are in the category. Although everything except the gameplay was damn nice, it just held the game back enough for me not to add it to the good or bad list. It’s a good fighting game, just not a great fighting game.
Gameplay: 6, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 7. Final: 7