Review by: Michael Rack
Published: May 23, 2003
The Xbox attracted a number of console gamers at launch with an appealing sequel to Dead or Alive. Since then, many other fighting genre titles have followed, including long-established series such as Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Capcom vs. SNK 2:EO. There have also been a few new offerings, such as Kabuki Warriors and Kakuto Chojin, but these were not well received. The fighting genre is certainly not a easy area to break into, but Microsoft Game Studios has released a new offering, Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus, into the arena with a significant amount of marketing behind it. This is not to say that it is entirely a first effort, however. John Tobias, co-creator of Mortal Kombat, left Midway and formed Tao Feng‘s development house, Studio Gigante. With such a strong backing, can this game make a name for itself amidst such established competitors?
The story of Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus takes place in New China, a country which has occupied the western coast of the US. Two factions of this country have been battling for hundreds of years due to their opposing viewpoints: The Pale Lotus, lead by Master Sage, seeks to bring peace to the world; the Black Mantis clan seeks to dominate the world, backed by their champion Wulong Goth. Battle between these two sects intensifies when the Black Mantis manage to overcome a temple by force, and make off with half of a sacred tablet.
This tablet reveals the locations of lost treasures, which can be offered to the celestial being Shou-Hsing to obtain the peach of immortality, granting eternal life. Each half details the position of pieces to the six artifacts, so Master Sage disperses his followers to obtain the items described on their part of the tablet. Of course, the Black Mantis will be working just as hard to obtain their six items in a effort to obtain the potent peach.
You take on the role of a warrior in one of the two sects, and must battle through your enemies to obtain the artifact components. Each time you defeat an enemy, you acquire one part of the artifact you have been assigned to retrieve. Prior to each fight, your master will relate some information about your opponent, and offer advice on how to defeat them. Once you’ve gathered an item with each character of a faction, you set off to confront Shou-Hsing and offer your tribute.
Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus features twelve standard characters and one hidden foe. The lineup is a motley assortment of intense, powerful personalities, including the hulk Exile, the gallant Divine Fist, and the graceful but arrogant Divinity. These characters are interlaced in a web of betrayal and personal grudges. They each have their own distinct fighting style, including two alternate stances to further open up their repertoire of moves and combos.