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     " I'm not sorry I had to play it but I don't think I'll pick it up again. "

      Title: K-1 World Grand Prix by Konami

      Format: PS2 Fighter

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: Despite the racecar-sounding name, K-1 brings the worlds fastest growing mixed martial art sport (mma) to your PS2. Part fight simulator, part mad rush boxer, K-1 wants a bite of the 40 fans who really thought the UFC games were on to something.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: The subject of graphics balance has been hotly debated ever since videogames went 3D. Do you put the focus on the models and characters, the background, the effects, the lighting, or do you try for a balance of them all? Hotly debated and often publicized, where a developer chooses to put it's graphical focus can often make or break a game visually. That being said, I assume the debate over K-1 went something like this, "We only have 2 fighters, one ring, and some crowd on screen at any point in time…so we should focus on developing the graphics for…Oh! Donuts!" That's right, kids, like so many other half-assed fighting games we've seen K-1 chooses to skimp on the rendering even though they only have a handful of models and backdrops to worry about. It's a concept that just shocks me and the epitome of "what the hell were they thinking?" If you're only going to have 2 characters on screen can't they at least have depth and detail? 3 out of 5

      Playability: The joke at the beginning not withstanding, I'm actually a huge mma fan and love the games related to them. Being one of the major parties in the "we hate street fighter side scrollers" camp here at Game Monkeys, I revel in the strategy and intricate power balances of a good realistic fighter. To that end K-1 delivers a nice mixture of button mashing and heavy strategy. Each button on the controller corresponds to a specific weapon (left fist, right fist, left leg, right leg) and hitting it along with the directional button will give you a number of modified attacks; most of which serve specific purposes. There are brutal knockout attacks, softening leg strikes, unbalancing jabs, and some pretty cool power punches and kicks. K-1 also employs a pretty sweet counter system in which most attacks have counters that can be employed against them (i.e. jabbing someone in the face may stop them from executing their haymaker) which is a fun and realistic addition to any fighting game. All that being said, unfortunately the controls are sluggish and often unresponsive and so matches will often devolve into button mashing out of frustration. There are also an obscene number of trump moves (such as kicks to the leg) which are easy to pull off, tough to defend against, and if done often enough will win you the match by points if not by knockout. Still, it is a solid showing that, with a few refinements, could be a great engine for a sequel. 3.75 out of 5

      Story and Drama: You are a young Jean Claude Van Damme and your kickboxing pro older brother has just had his back broken. You find an old Asian master who teaches you the secrets of real martial arts so you can challenge your brother's crippler but are run over by a tour bus on the way to the match. Your crushed so badly your teeth get wedged beneath the bumper and the audience cheers for hours. Or maybe I made all that up because it's a sports game and, thus, doesn't have a story. No rating.

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Though, of course, K-1 features a multiplayer element the combination of slow controller response and either very elaborate or ridiculously cheesy gameplay will likely leaving you fighting all by your lonesome. Playing on your own, however, you can regulate the moves you use and so make the games as fast paced or strategic as you'd like. To help in that endeavor there are a ton of gameplay options, many of which are much more fun than playing with another person, and should keep you going for a while. 3.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all K-1 ends up being mostly fun but quite a ways from memorable or remarkable. While better than a lot of the other realistic fighters we've seen lately it is still lacking in too many areas to be any kind of long-term contender.

      The Good: Good counter system and deep controls…

      The Bad: Which, unfortunately, are slow to respond and feel lagged out. Also sorely lacking in the graphics department.

      The Overall Ugly: I'm not sorry I had to play it but I don't think I'll pick it up again.

      What it's Worth: Rental

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