King of Fighters XII
Posted 3 years ago By - Nelson Hum
But forgive me for my digression, as I’m here to talk about their 12th entry in the King of Fighters series. While King of Fighters XII (KOF XII) is coming out during a crowded fighting game season, it definitely has the power to go toe to toe with other titles.
KOF XII is about a return to simplicity. You still have your 3 on 3 team combat but gone are the Quick Shift, the Saving Shift, the Skill Bar and the Dream Cancels from KOF 11. Instead, you get new gameplay mechanics that borrow a bit from the Street Fighter series. The main super meter is a throwback to the Mark of the Wolves game as it builds from having you take damage. Once full, you can unleash your super move. However, the game has done away with the “Desperation” super move feature (being able to do your super move an unlimited amount of times if you are low on health.) There is also a new system in place called the Critical Counter. Once your CC bar is maxed out, a fierce/hard counter hit will put you opponent in stun, allowing you to unload a custom combo. In addition, there is a “Deadlock” feature that has both of the characters get pushed away if they connect at the same time and even a Street Fighter IV borrowed guard attack maneuver (an attack that absorbs a hit before going off.)
As for how the new features work in the game, everything mixes pretty well. The combos you can land from the Critical Counter system are extremely damaging and may seem a bit overpowered at times. However, it is exciting to know that fights can be turned around in an instant. The guard attack is a nice trick against rush down players. However, the attack is a bit overpowered as it can block anything and still manage to get the hit out. The Deadlock feature makes appears sparingly but you can dash in immediately to capitalize on its effects. Because of these features, the game goes from extreme offense to defense in a matter of seconds, giving way to a nice battle psychology of cat and mouse.
However, despite the balance issues of the Critical Counter and the guard attack, the game is very fast and that retains much of the flavor of the other King of Fighters games. Pacing wise, the game isn’t as frenetic as Marvel vs Capcom 2 or BlazBlue but slightly faster paced than Street Fighter IV. The roster is trim for KOF standards as it sits at 22 (including two console characters) but most fans will be happy with the ones in the game. However, in keeping with the “simple” approach to the game, a lot of the characters play like earlier incarnations of themselves or are different altogether. For example, Terry Bogard is missing a few special moves and only has one super while Lori plays completely different due to his lack of Orochi power. This may turn off some players as it seems more like regression than progression and it would have been nice some for of the characters to have more moves. It’s puzzling why some characters have more than one super move while others don’t. This feast or famine approach skews the character balance a bit but nothing is too explicit or jarring.
The controls are solid but like most SNK Playmore brawlers, the execution windows are a lot tighter than most fighting games. You’ll be doing motions that you’ll swear that you’re hitting but the timing restrictions are a bit more severe. The learning curve can be a little steep but you won’t be blowing too many moves once you get used to the games timing.
Graphics and Audio
Gone are the sprites of old and say hello to completely new hand drawn characters. The new sprites are simply gorgeous to look at and sport rich, deep colours. The game simply pops in HD. While it’s disappointing that the characters do become pixilated when you are close up, the characters still look fantastic overall. The animations have been revamped as well and all of the attacks look very convincing. My only major gripe is the lack of background variety. All of the stages are pretty bland (fighting in front of a crowd…yawn) and utterly forgettable.
The music is serviceable as well. While it doesn’t have the J-rock guitar shred that is found in most fighters, the music gets the job done. It’s nothing spectacular but nothing at least it’s not annoying or unintentionally hilarious (I’m looking at you Street Fighter IV menu music!)
Surprisingly, KOF XII doesn’t feature as many game modes as most standard fighters. The arcade mode is essentially a time attack mode as the game has no storyline and no end boss. The ever-present survival mode is gone and what you’re essentially left with is single player, versus, or online. I’ve often said that most fighting game story lines are foolish and convoluted so a missing storyline in KOF XII isn’t the worst thing to happen. However, as much flack I give to SNK Playmore bosses for being unbelievably cheap, you do miss fighting a big baddie at the end of the game. Maybe its Stockholm Syndrome speaking but there is an anti-climatic feeling when you beat the game without having triumphed over some megalomaniac who knows how to throw a kick.
Still, most of the replay value is extracted from the online play and it’s a rough situation for KOF XII. You do get your typical spread: arcade lobby, ranked matches, and custom matches. There is even a very cool Clan Battle that allows you to team up with two other buddies online to take on other clans. It’s a very inventive feature that really leverages the 3 on 3 gameplay of the series. However, the one glaring problem with all of this is the fact that there is an incredible amount of lag with online play. Essentially, the online component is currently unplayable as you will literally be playing the game in slow-motion. Hopefully a patch will be released soon as the sheer amount of lag basically eliminates the entire online component. One thing I noticed while trying to play a lag-free match is that you cannot search for a fight based on connection. It’s not until you enter the fight lobby that you get to see the connection status. Talk about a rubbish way to set up fights as mostly everyone goes by how well the connection is. SNK Playmore definitely gets the wag of my finger for their sloppiness in the entire online component.
While the game is a bit thin on play modes and the online battles are a complete write-off at the moment, the fundamental gameplay is still fun and true to the series. The new mechanics make for exciting, momentum-turning fights that are equal parts frenetic and tactical. The game looks great and plays well – it’s a shame that the current netcode is a complete mess. Once that gets cleared up, you have a very satisfying brawler that is a fine installment to the King of Fighters lineage.
+ Stylish new art direction
+ New gameplay mehcanics mix well together
+ Frenetic gameplay
+ Great selection of you favorite KOF characters
- Online is a throwaway due to ungodly amounts of lag
- Lack of game modes
- Characters move sets could have been beefed up
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Release Date : 2009/07/28
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Ignition Entertainment
Developer : SNK Playmore
Category : Fighting & Wrestling
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10