GameplayUnlike the 2D games from the series, Maximum Impact breaks the team system, causing all the fighters to fight alone. The story mode is experienced as a single character through the Mephistopheles Fighting Tournament. For most characters, this consists of fighting six characters, with Duke's cronie / Consigliere Hyena announcing the next opponent between matches. For the final match, one faces Duke himself. For a few "featured" characters (Alba Meira, Soiree Meira, and Lien Neville), the story is more intricate and fleshed out.
In Versus Mode, a single match (be it a one-on-one fight or a 3 vs. 3 battle) is fought against either the computer or another player. In Mission Mode, the player complete four levels of 10 missions each. Each mission has settings and conditions to be completed. Most of the game's unlockables come through this mode. In Time Attack Mode, the player has to defeat a number of characters as quickly as possible. This online mode is available only on the Xbox version, and features online matchmaking for play between two players.
PlotAddis was the most powerful gang in Southtown. Its leader, a man known only as Fate, was considered a modern-day Robin Hood to the poor and downtrodden. He himself had adopted two twin brothers, Alba and Soiree Meira, and trained them to be successors to his legacy. Six months before the in-game events, Fate is killed by Duke, the leader of the up-and-coming Mephistopheles gang. Duke then proceeds to exploit the poor to serve his own twisted thirst for power.
In the present day, the Mephistopheles Fighting Tournament is beginning, with the venue being all of Southtown. The participants (minus the Meira Brothers and Lien) believe that the tournament is being sponsored by a charity organization known as the Metatron Foundation, but they soon learn that its true sponsor is the Mephistopheles gang. Alba, Soiree and Lien are contacted directly by Hyena, so they know Metatron has nothing to do with this.
CharactersKOF: Maximum Impact has twenty playable characters. Six additional characters make their debut in this game, and most of the remaining roster is inherited from the King of Fighters series. One noteworthy exception to the rule is Rock Howard, brought in from the most recent Fatal Fury chapter, Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
Each character features at least one alternative costume. Some alternate costumes are radically different from the defaults, such as Terry's Garou: Mark of the Wolves look and Clark's professional wrestler persona. In addition to the alternate costumes, characters can be modified with unlockable "rigging models," which add details to the available costumes, such as a wolf mask for Terry or a party hat and banner for Seth.
Original charactersAlba Meira -- The star of KOF: Maximum Impact, Alba is a former soldier and prodigy of Fate, the former boss of the Southtown gangs, who enters the tournament so he can contact (and destroy) Duke to basically rule Southtown in Fates stead.
Soiree Meira -- Alba's younger twin brother, who is more brash than his cool-headed older brother. He is determined to help Alba dispose of Duke by any means necessary.
Duke -- The leader of the Mephistopheles gang that controls Southtown. Earned the nickname "Hell's Executioner" because of the prominent scar across his neck.
Lien Neville -- An assassin who Duke hires to enter the KOF tournament and dispose of any insurgency.
Mignon Beart -- A young witch-in-training who enters the KOF tournament to test her own might and help create world peace.
Chae Lim -- Star pupil of Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character Kim Kaphwan, who enters the tournament in his place.
Returning charactersFrom The King of Fighters:
From Fatal Fury:
From Art of Fighting:
From Ikari Warriors:
From Psycho Soldier: