King of Fighters XII

October 6, 2009 by Thomas Burley  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

1

Overview

Title: The King OF Fighters XII

Release Date: 25th of September 2009

Developer/Publisher: SNK/Ignition

Genre: Beat’em Up

Platform[s]: Xbox 360 / PS3

Storyline

Anyone who has played a The King of Fighters game (KoF) will know that  a story mode included in the game and for a beat’em up is a great achievement. Unfortunately this time round there is no story mode at all. However there is something that does come close and that is the arcade mode which consists of 5 time trial fights of 3 v 3 with very short cut scenes – One with a women behind a desk explaining the rules and another of a news report talking about the excitement of the final rounds.

There’s no ending for any characters at all so many fans will find themselves very disappointed by this factor. I myself assumed there would be a lot more and in today’s standard a game with no story will always make you feel like you’ve been short changed.

Gameplay

With the lack of any story mode, KoF XII needed to add extra depth to the combat while still being balanced, to be able to redeem itself in my eyes. Though many games have struggled to do this, the KoF series has mastered the 3v3 battles, rather then 1v1 like standard beat’em ups. This means individuals have to master all three of their characters, which certainly adds more to the gameplay.

I felt as though the fighters themselves needed a little bit more fine tuning with their available attacks and even in attack damage. There does, however, seem to be a very good balance of differing styles, so not everyone will have the same teams online.

2Players have 22 characters, which a lot of people would think is a big roster, however true KoF fans will know the series tends to have well over 40+ characters, so this is a big cut from what normally is seen in KoF games. Some of the bigger names  missing include,  Rugal, Geese, Orochi and even Mai (which is a massive fan favourite). They seem to have cut the character list to focus more on the feel of the game. With this being the first High Definition version of a KoF game the combats great and the gameplay really is one of the best for a beat’em ups.

One the down sides is the fact that there are only 6 levels in total, one of (which is used twice). This again is not what fans are use to or expect and will leave a lot of people wondering what they are getting for their money.

KoF XII has no real single-player aspects at all, so you’ll find yourself finishing arcade mode in less then 10 minutes. The achievements are quite easy to beat, some are achievable in less then 8 minutes, 6 minutes and even 3mins 30 seconds – It goes without saying that the arcade mode is very short the only reason you’ll replay it is just for the achievements.

There are no boss battles in KoFXII, and the fans of the series will feel this should have been including into the game as it has always been a big aspect of the series. There aren’t any unlockables or any secret characters either, which kills any replayability for the offline aspects of the game.

Though there’s a lot of reasons why this game lets down to the fans of the series, KoFXII certainly isn’t a bad beat’em up! In fact it’s very enjoyable when you are playing with friends or even just online. While playing offline you can pick  a “Simple” command mode once characters have been chosen, this mode means all you have to do is press a direction and then a button to pull off a special move, rather than a combination of various different button moves. This is great for beginners and helps to pull your mate up to your standard even if they haven’t played a KoF game before. Be warned though, you can’t use this online so if you’re going online.

3

Two new combat  mechanics in KoFXII “are guard attack” and “critical counter”. Guard attacks are attacks which act like parry moves and counters with an attack knocking your enemy to the floor. Whereas critical counters are a gauge under your life bar that fills as you take damage and deal damage. Once full it will automatically activate and start to lower and in this time you have to counter your opponent with a hard punch or kick to activate critical counter, once pulled off this will temporarily immobilise your opponent, activating a close up and a green like circle surrounds you, now you’ll be able to deal normal attacks, special moves and even super moves as a barrage of attacks  acting like a powerful  combo and dealing massive damage.

The critical counter mechanic is great  and the advantage of dealing massive damage means experts are going to try pull these off but the one good thing is that a beginner may also turn the table around on them.

Though critical counter is a great feature I feel that the guard attack feature is a little bit of a waste and brings a bit of a problem to the combat, as guard attack is very easy to pull off and yet players gain such an advantage it always feels as there’s a low risk to pulling them off while gaining a massive advantage as your enemy is knocked down, so I can see them being used a lot by experienced players.

The online fighting in KoFXII is quite a mixed bag, in my experience the game runs smoothly sometimes while others will lag so bad it’s unplayable. Online game mode consists of:

  • Arcade Mode -  Gain battle points rankings, through fighting other individuals.
  • Ranked Mode -   Pairs you against someone who has the same TrueSkill ranking.
  • Player Mode – Where you can take on anyone without the fear of losing ranking points.

5Arcade mode and player mode matches consist of rooms were up to 8 individuals can wait to take on the winner or loser (depending on room settings) with the winner staying on, this mode is great for a large group of friends online but otherwise it can feel like a big wait for a match that could  lag out and become unplayable. Room settings can be changed so that players can complete in either 1 v 1 or 3 v 3. In 3 v 3 players can either set them to control every player or have another individual control the other guys so therefore making it 3 v 3 players, but you’ll have to wait for your team mate to be defeated before you join the match. It’s a good feature and once the online lag is sorted it could be the games saving grace, lets just hope it’s patched soon. Ranked matches can only be played 3 v 3 but the player has to control all three of there characters, the grade system is a letter system and defeating more players online will improve your ranking from F all the way to A, then you continue till you reach the top rank of SSS.

Though there is a lot of things that should have been included, the combat is still very good and once you play online  the matches become very technical and very quick as well, so individuals wont feel as though it a complete let down to the series as the core factors in a beat’em up is the combat and are pulled off very well.

Graphics

KoF XII is the first KoF game in the series to be put into full HD and with it still being a 2D fighter instead of a 3d fighter (like most have done) the graphics were always going to be an aspect the game had to excel in. The choice of manga-like art style is very fitting to the game and players wont be disappointed. The backgrounds too are amazing and have fantastic detail!

It’s great that they have reworked some of the character model, the shades and shadowing on the characters  is very impressive and wont disappoint fans. The fact that they’ve reworked the look as well as characters adds an extra quality to the graphics. Though the graphics are really good there are two big factors that really annoy me – The first being the outline of the characters, they look good when the camera doesn’t zoom in but once it does the characters outline becomes very blurred and pixelated. The second is the explosions during attacks, they look very outdated and even “last gen” games had better explosion graphics.

Sound

The sounds of KoF XII are great and really add intensity to the fighting. It is a shame that the characters don’t talk, just grunt, but it is forgiveable in a fighting game. The background music and sounds are also very impressive everything just seems to fits so well together, it is one aspect of the game they’ve really done justice with.

Overall Score & Replayability

4I have played other games in the KoF series, so when I was asked to review Kingdom of Fighters XII, I was really looking forward to it. However I hold a real mix of feelings towards the latest in the series -  The combat is great and the simple command feature will help keep competition alive, with friends that are new to the series, but on the other hand the fact there’s no story mode or any real single player aspect makes you feel like if doesn’t deserve the full price tag its given. I can’t help but feel that anyone without the internet is really going to miss out on the good aspects of the game, and just feel resentment for buying KoF XII, as the arcade mode can be done in around 10 minutes the first time round, it is such a waste they’ve took out story mode.

The online modes are what’s going to keep the game from a really bad set of reviews but as things stand at the minute with my experience the game needs patching as the lag issues make the game unplayable and you never know when its going to happen as lag affected about 3 in every 10 games I played, but when it works it works great I cant deny that.

My recommendations is that wait until it drops in price as there is no way the game deserves the full retail prices it given and if you don’t have the internet stay away all together unless your a big fan of the series and play with friends very regularly you’ll never play the game enough to get value for your money and with many great beat’em up’s already I can see this being a big hit like some of the games in the series have been its a a shame it just feels a little rushed.