K-1 Revenge packs more graphic power, more fighters, and more features than the original K-1, but is it enough? Fans of the first K-1 are sure to think so, but for all intents and purposes, this is the same game all over again.
K-1 Revenge features five modes of play: single-player mode, versus mode, eight-player tournament mode, team-battle mode, and a training mode. The training mode wasn't in the first K-1, and is simply a chance to try out your techniques. There is also a new AI feature that lets you tweak each fighter in a number of categories. These categories range from overall defensive and offense options to individual kick-and-punch options of regularity and intensity. Each fighter still has his own specialty; Stan the Man can throw wicked left and right hooks, Sam Greco's roundhouse is a lethal weapon, and Andy Hug has an axe kick that can dislocate most shoulders. In addition to the eight fighters in the first game, seven more have been added for a total of 15 real fighters. Three more secret fighters can be unlocked if your skills are good enough.
The controls are as simple as they were in the first game: The D-pad moves your fighter toward and away from your opponent, the shoulder buttons sidestep, while the buttons on the face of the controller execute punches, kicks, and special attacks. If you press up or down on the D-pad while pressing an attack button you'll vary the height and/or type of attack. The game, as you might imagine, consists of punching and kicking your opponent until his energy is depleted. In the course of this simple goal, you can fill up your opponents knockdown meter by landing several combos. Once his knockdown meter is full he crumbles to the mat. The knockdown meter makes the game fun, because when you see that your opponent is in trouble you can press the attack and try to score a knockdown or even possibly a knockout.
Graphically, K-1 Revenge looks ten times better than its predecessor, with smoother animation and cleaner, more defined, polygons. The faces of the characters look just like the real fighters. K-1 Revenge does something graphically that the first K-1 doesn't. The fighters leave afterimages, or tracers, behind them as they move backward or sidestep. I can only imagine the designers used this graphic technique to give the illusion that the fighters are moving at incredible speeds; it doesn't, though.
On the audio end, K-1 Revenge has some pretty good music. The music at the title screen, for instance, sounds suspiciously like the Van Halen classic "Running With the Devil." The music played during the bouts perfectly matches the fast-paced action of the fights.
If you have ever seen a kickboxing or boxing match on TV, you know what real punches sounds like. It's baffling to me why the designers of K-1 wouldn't just use the actual sound of a real punch instead of the usual fighting-game sound effects. Although the punches don't sound real, the sound effect of the fighters hitting the canvas is awesome; it really sounds like someone smashing into a mat.
Overall, K-1 Revenge is a solid kickboxing game, but K-1 is a kickboxing game - it has no fireballs, dragon punches, or hardly any special techniques, for that matter. In comparison with other PlayStation fighters it may seem boring. Compared with something more conventional like Knockout Kings, the game lacks some of the strategic finesse but has more of an arcade/fighting game feel. In the end, unless you're really into kickboxing, this sequel falls squarely into the rent-me bin, just as its predecessor does, due to the game's brevity and lack of depth.