KwonHo: The Fist of Heroes - hands-on

A 3D fighter for the PC sounds about as unwieldy as a real-time strategy for consoles. But our brief playtime with publisher NHN's latest online fighter, KwonHo: The Fist of Heroes shows that controlled key-tapping can result in some serious fighting fun if done right.

But the biggest news about this game is that it’s free. In fact, you can head here right now to download the client. Installation is quick and painless, and while you shouldn't expect any amazing graphics or groundbreaking gameplay, it looks okay and controls quite smoothly with the keyboard.

So what's the catch? As expected, a select number of moves and costumes will require you to cough up cash for the game's micro-transaction store. On the other hand - as expected - most of the extra moves and clothing items can be acquired by the points you earn from fighting other players, and developers don't want to mess with balancing issues by allowing those who pay for the exclusive moves to totally dominate every battle. So don't expect to be able to use that as an excuse for any ravaging ass-whoopings you receive while playing.

The game looks and plays like earlier iterations of the Virtua Fighter series with a kick/punch/block control scheme that should be easy for fighter fans to pick up on the fly. So is KwonHo a mediocre Virtua Fighter wannabe? In many ways, it is indeed derivative of the famous fighter franchise. But with a free game, there’s really nothing to lose.

When was the last time you felt the thrill of facing a stranger in the dark halls of an arcade? The days of crowding around a machine and putting your quarter on the dash to say "I got next" are over. Expect more Korean born titles like KwonHo to start filling in this gap of competitive play as more gamers continue to get wired with broadband connections in the States.


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