This is the return of the great SNK of the NeoGeo era

This is the return of the great SNK of the NeoGeo era
This is the return of the great SNK of the NeoGeo era

Summer Game Fest 2024 was the opportunity for SNK to travel to Los Angeles to officially present the highly anticipated Fatal Fury City of the Wolves, the reboot/sequel to Garou Mark of the Wolves, one of the best fighting games ever created to date (no bullshit). If Jeuxactu wasn’t in Los Angeles this year, we were treated to a catch-up session thanks to SNK, who took the opportunity to detail the combat system of its game which promises to be ultra complete and ultra complex. And if you thought that SNK was going to succumb to the trend of simplified controls for the noob on duty, you obviously don’t know the inventor of the NeoGeo… And yes, as with FromSoftware games, the more difficult it is, the more enjoyable it is.

As you may know, the combat system of this “Garou 2” will revolve around the REV System, which is both a legacy of the gameplay of Garou Mark of the Wolves, to which we have integrated new elements that we find in many fighting games today. The game will therefore be divided into several very specific techniques: REV Arts, REB Blows, REV Guard, REV Accel and it is the combination of all this that will give body to the combat system, and one thing that I can already guarantee you is that the game will be super technical, incredibly deep and with a huge margin of progression. So, in this Fatal Fury 2025, we will find to start with the REV Arts which are the equivalent of EX attacks, and which thus increase tenfold the power, speed and visual of certain special moves. Then we have the REV Blows which are special attacks that mix attack and defense in a single movement and which are therefore insensitive to opposing attacks. REV Blows are reminiscent of Street Fighter 6’s Drive Impact.

REV PARTY

There is also the REV Guard which is a more advanced way to defend yourself. You have to hold the R1 button to better protect yourself, since it allows you to put more space between you and your opponent than a classic block. But the REV Guard also allows you to cancel the light damage that certain attacks can cause, like the fireballs that you still take when you protect yourself. Well, by holding R1, you will cancel the damage, and at the same time gradually increase the REV Meter gauge that you see at the bottom of the screen on each side of the fighters. This REV Meter is super important because it will define the quality of your character’s play. It works a bit like a car engine that is constantly running. The more attacks you throw, the more you fill this gauge. Conversely, if you hit your opponent or succeed in certain parries, you decrease this REV Meter. So you’re going to have to juggle all of that to maintain this gauge, because once it overheats, well your character jams, like a car I tell you. Suddenly, your character is surrounded by a red halo, the REV Meter gauge is in Overheat and you become slower, more vulnerable to certain hits, even when protecting yourself and above all, you can no longer use any REV options. Of course, this Overheat acts as a cooldown and the REV Meter gauge recovers over time, or when you launch attacks, or when you succeed in certain hits too.

And then, there is also the REV Accel, which is none other than the equivalent of the Drive Cancel in the excellent KOF 13 or the Drive Rush of Street 6, which is a mechanic that allows you to combine REV Arts with other REV Arts, which you can also trigger right after a REV Blow by the way. And it’s far from over, since this Fatal Fury City of the Wolves also reintroduces the famous Just Defended that made the success of the Garou Mark of the Wolves of 1999 and which consists of blocking an attack with the perfect timing, that is to say exactly at the right moment. If you succeed in a Just Defense, you will get some advantageous bonuses like a slight recovery of your health, a decrease in the REV Meter and the possibility of performing a Guard Cancel. Visually in the game, this translates into a turquoise blue protection circle, which I find a little too visible by the way. SNK could have found something more discreet, I don’t know what you think…

But that’s not all, because there is better than Just Defended, this time there is Hyper Defended which is an even more advanced mechanic, since it requires protecting yourself in frame-perfect but by pressing in the direction of the opponent when he makes a multiple attack, it allows you to block attacks with the right timing and therefore to benefit from the same advantages as Just Defended after having succeeded in the manipulation. On the screen, it is not a blue-turquoise protection circle this time, but dark blue and with the Hyper Defended mention which also pops up of course. I feel that it will be a hell of a hassle to place this in the middle of a match. But it’s long xs, since the game also takes up the TOP System from Garou Mark of the Wolves except that this time, it is called SPG for “Selective Potential Gear” while TOP meant Tactical Offensive Position System. The principle has not changed, we select the area where this gauge will be used during the fight, 1st, 2nd or last third of the life bar at the time of the character selection screen. When this area is reached during the fights, you hit harder and can launch special attacks like a REV Blow. And visually, this translates into the fact that there are flames on the shoulders of your fighter. Very stylish by the way.

To complicate things even more, SNK decided to add other mechanics like Guard Cancel, which we’re starting to know by heart, and Braking, which means “slowing down” in plain English and consists of reducing the recovery time of special moves. Basically, we cancel, or rather slow down the animation of certain special moves, in order to offer more combo opportunities, or by going directly to a different special attack, for example. It’s crazy madness and in truth, only pro-gamers will be able to use it in the middle of a match without hesitation. Because not only do you have to do it, but you also have to think about it.

As you can see, the gameplay of this Fatal Fury City of the Wolves honors the first Garou Mark of the Wolves from 1999, and it is quite obvious that SNK did not want to miss this return, and the Osaka firm has obviously done everything to ensure that each element of the game flirts with the level of excellence of the time. Even on the visual level, we are finally entitled to a 3D SNK game that finally has some style, and that is not ashamed to display its characters in close-ups. Of course, we have not yet reached the quality of a Mortal Kombat 1 or that of a Tekken 8, but it is by far the most beautiful and pretty SNK game to look at since they stopped hand-held development in 2D. We had already seen a great evolution with Samurai Shodown in 2019, but there, we have passed a milestone. The 3D models are clean, the animations too, the pencil effect works well, and above all the staging is explosive, with a camera closer to the characters. Each blow given or received is accompanied by a shaky-cam effect and there are even big zooms that are added at certain times, to amplify the attacks, which reminds me of the production of the old Art of Fighting. And then, there are effects everywhere, it explodes everywhere, it’s fluid, hyper speed, and it runs at 60 frames per second. No, really it’s going to be crazy.

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