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Feng: Fist of the Lotus
Score: 6.9 / 10
I guess when I read that Toa Feng: Fist of
the Lotus (TF) would feature limb damage, I had something else in mind,
particularly after the print ads started popping up. I’ve long advocated
that extreme sports games feature realistic injuries , but so far no one
has taken up the gauntlet. Sure, there has been a move to replicate road
rash, etc. but no one ever breaks a bone, which is why TF had me
anticipating how “limb damage” was going to be implemented. If you’re
expecting compound fractures you’ll be disappointed – and that may just
be the beginning of your disappointment.
If you’re looking for button-mashing fun, forget it. I’m not sure I
should use this term but TF is a “thinking man’s fighter.” It’s like
playing an extreme hand of poker,
complete with kicks to the face and pile
drivers. It’s almost turn-based. Matches typically turn into exchanges
of combos. If you don’t grasp this fact, you’ll be trounced by the AI.
In games like Dead or Alive 3, Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO, or Mortal Kombat 4
amateur players can often win matches by rapid button presses. They may
not win as easily (or as spectacularly) as a nuance player but at
least there’s some fun to be had. Unless you’re hardcore into the
fighting genre, there’s not a lot to get out of TF because actually
executing combo moves takes a good memory, incredible concentration and
The simplest combos are about 3 button presses. Longform Combos can be
as long as 11 (depending on the character) making the Training mode
mandatory if you want success rather than an armload of frustration.
Playing TF over the last two weeks I’ve probably been able to perform
only four or five Longform Combos – spread over the 12 available
characters. And only during training mode. During an actual match I
could get as far as the fifth or sixth button press before fumbling and
loosing any momentum I’ve built up. Also, where’s the creativity? The
issue of combos becomes moot when battling human opponents – unless
they’ve put in a lot more practice. And it should be noted that, like
most fighters, TF is a ton of fun with human opponents, so with that in
mind, it might be worth a rental if your house is party central.
TF also features Chi Attacks, which are powered by successfully
pummeling your opponents. Once the Chi meter is filled, you can unleash
character specific specialty attacks. A Chi Attack can knock the balance
in your favor, especially if the attack mostly stuns them and you can
try out a combo move. The energy from the Chi meter can also be funneled
to heal yourself.
Besides Training, the other modes include Team Battle, Tournament,
Versus, Quest and Survival, which are all self-explanatory. Quest mode
tasks you with acquiring pieces of “sacred treasure” by beating members
of the opposing faction. Actually, there’s a back-story to all this but
you’re unlikely to care. You’ll get as far as the Pale Lotus/Black
Mantis, ying-yang factions and start playing.
The 12 playable characters (at the outset) are your typical assortment
of miscreants and heroes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Whether bloody or bruised or flipping off walls to cause serious hurt,
they look good, but why, oh, why do the female characters wear clothing
that would rip away in a strong breeze? There is sex appeal – undeniably
– but I’m finally at that point in my life where I question the need for
all the 38DD jiggling and revealing clothes. Besides which, why don’t
they ever come free?
But let's get back to limb damage…
When you receive limb damage, your punches or kicks – depending on which
limbs are damaged – are reduced in effectiveness by 50%. Yipee. Forget
about broken bones, dislocated joints or even limping. TF looks and
moves great, with some brilliantly destructible environments and smooth
animation (unlike the first fighter from Microsoft, Kakuto Chojin, which
is brutal according to most). So why couldn’t there be visible physical
If you’re looking for a more turn-based and strategic fighter that
requires a bucket of skill, Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus is the answer.
However, if you like fighters that are elegant like freight trains
playing chicken – raw power and accessible – then skip it.