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Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus

Developer: Studio Gigante | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/18/03 | Genre: Fighting

Microsoft's first party lineup has had a few exceptional titles. However, more often, the studio seems to continue to put out sub-par efforts. Not only are the vast majority of games coming from the studio average--but Microsoft continues to sink a lot of marketing money into them. While I am not suggesting that Microsoft quit marketing their titles, how about developing and marketing only good titles? Tao Feng First of the Lotus is another great example of a high-profiled first party title from Microsoft that falls flat on its face. While the game has potential, it lacks the overall polish of an AAA title.

I am sure everyone reading this review knows of Mortal Kombat. This controversial fighter was very popular in the 90's but seemed to lose its killer edge with each successive sequel. The franchise has only recently recovered to regain some of the lost glory. John Tobias was one of the co-creators of the franchise and was responsible for most of the story that went into the game. A handful of other MK developers left with Tobias to create Studio Gigante, the development team of Tao Feng Fist of the Lotus.

The most impressive part of Tao Feng is the graphics. Each of the characters are very detailed and fluid without a hint of slowdown. Of course, with the power of the Xbox console, it is almost always a given that the graphics will look nice. Likewise, all of the sounds and music is nice too. However, my complaints with Tao Feng Fist of the Lotus lie within the gameplay.

Before we discuss the gameplay, lets look a bit at the story. Set in futuristic China, two Chinese sects are fighting each other for ancient artifacts that will grant immortality. The two sects are divided up into six fighters on each side. Besides the normal fighting mode, players can participate in a quest mode that will lead you to recover these artifacts. After recovering each piece, you will then fight a six on one fight against a boss. However, to defeat the boss, the player will use some primitive fighting skills that were seen in earlier MK titles� Specifically, you must jump and punch the opponent.

So what exactly is wrong with this fighter? The fighting mechanics just aren't very good. While Studio Gigante decided to get rid of the standard �win 2 rounds� style of gameplay and opted to allow players to have three life bars that must be emptied to move on, this is just another way of doing the same thing in fighting games. The only fighter that I recall to completely do this another way was Bushido Blade.

The big problem with the gameplay is that there aren't a lot of countermoves to fight back. Instead, in classic unbalanced and shallow Mortal Kombat style, players wait for their opponent to miss an attack so they can jump in and start fighting. Because you don't have to worry about your attacks being countered, players can continue to perform a few set of combos and not learn any other moves.

It is this gameplay that caused me to not have much fun with Tao Feng First of the Lotus. While the graphics are nice, this is a fighter--not an adventure game. Because of this, I do not recommend this title and suggest if you want to try it that you give it a rental before purchasing.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 04/28/03
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus

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