Published on August 6th, 2009 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder1
King of Fighters XII Review
Developer: SNK Playmore
Release Date: April 10, 2009
Platform: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], Xbox 360
Old school fighting games have been making a serious comeback lately, if you haven’t noticed, and no small part of that has to do with their depth. King of Fighters XII has quite a bit of depth – make no mistake about it – but is the package worth your hard-earned $60? Read on to find out.
First things first, the interface is definitely a throw back to older times in video games, as it’s very barebones. When you get to the main menu, there are four game modes to choose from: Arcade, Versus, Practice and Online. If you don’t play games online, you’re really limited to three game modes, which is definitely off-putting for those of us who don’t have the internet speeds required to play online. You can watch previously saved matches in Replay, images in the Gallery and there’s a PlayStation Store™ option that connects you directly to the PSN.
Once you get in-game, King of Fighters XII looks amazing. Everything, from the small details on each character to the arenas that the characters fight in, has been drawn by hand. The backdrops are colorful and active, and the characters are extremely detailed. This does have it’s drawbacks though, as once the action gets zoomed in you can see the very noticeable pixelation, which is never good. In addition, there are only six arenas that you can fight in, resulting in a lot of repetition if you plan on playing a lot.
Rather than beat around the bush, let’s get down to the meat of this, shall we? The gameplay is what counts, and a couple of important hit-or-miss elements have been left out of this release. To start off, there is absolutely zero story in the game. The closest you get to a story mode is the Arcade mode, which is a Time Trial at it’s core. You select your fighters, battle your way through five matches, and get a time trial ranking at the end. You get a do-over for each match after the fact to try and get get a better time, but that’s the extent of Arcade Mode. The closest you’ll get to a story are cutscenes of news anchors and reporters mentioning that another fight is coming up.
So far KOF XII sounds pretty disappointing, but the gameplay does a decent job of redeeming some of the lost hope. KOF veterans will notice very quickly that the characters they’ve been used to using don’t feel the same, and that’s due to differences in the newest fighting engine. New mentions include the Deadlock, Guard Attack and Critical Counter. Deadlocks occur when two strong attacks or special moves of equal power collide, and the moves cancel each other out. Guard Attacks are counters that push your opponent back. Critical Counters (my favorite of the bunch) stun your opponent for a moment after, leaving them open for all kinds of rear-end kickery.
You’ll like them too. Believe me.
Switching between fighters isn’t on demand, as the play style is more “Last Team Standing” than the system most fighting games use. Once the character you’re using is KO’ed, it’s on to the next fighter so you definitely want to pick your best fighters!
There are 22 characters to choose from, which is the least amount of characters ever released in a King of Fighters game, but the characters available are very balanced. There aren’t complete show-stealer characters, which is really a great accomplishment.
Online is a touchy subject so far with KOFXII, as it’s a bit laggy and has a glitch: Elisabeth’s character sprite becomes “frozen” for the duration of the round when the character Raiden performs a specific move on her. If you have the game already, this is good to know before the patch drops.
After playing online, the lag doesn’t seem to be as bad as other places make it seem, but with a fighting game any lag can ruin a match.
All in all, King of Fighters XII is a solid fighting game. Unfortunately, the subpar presentation, lack of level variety and lack of modes push King of Fighters XII into rental territory for me. Paying $60 is not something to be taken lightly, and the lack of offline modes make this a game that feels like it should’ve been priced around twenty dollars less than it is currently. Unless you have friends to play with regularly, play online, or are a diehard King of Fighters fan, I can only recommend this game as a rent.