The King of Fighters XII review
Gone astray in areas


Something seems off...
I'm huge on fighting games. I'm far from the best or the most knowledgable fighting game player, but I'm still one to enjoy a good fighting game. I remember spending hours playing Tekken, Street Fighter 2 and Soul Calibur 2, and even manage to stay captivated to this day by going through awesome fighting games like BlazBlue and Virtua Fighter 5. Does King Of Fighters 12 stand a chance? Not exactly, I'm afraid. It just doesn't seem to play as well as those games, offering lackluster offline modes, little content to unlock, and online that isn't exactly one to marvel at. Suffice to say, this is actually disappointing. And here, I thought fighting games would stand back up on its two legs after the decline during the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube generation... I guess not.

It's not the king of iron fist tournament.
There's no real story. Just everybody enters a tournament for... some unexplained reason. Maybe fame? Fortune? Who knows? What's funny is that there doesn't seem to be a champion to face... just a tough trio. Maybe it's the first tournament and it's just a race to the gold trophy. Honestly, I'm stumped here. The way this tournament is run is that six people go in, and three come out as winners. Five wins in a row is all it takes to get the gold trophy and to be considered the king of fighters.

So yeah, it's your typical fighting game. You have your strong punches and kicks, and the weak punches and kicks. You can hold the d-pad in different directions for different sort of attacks, or have a combination of d-pad movements and a button for a stronger or special attack. It ultimately takes a lot of guesswork since there's no way to actually know what does the special attacks, so a lot of messing around is required in order to get the best out of each character.

There are some other features, like the Guard Attack, Deadlock, and Critical Counter. A Guard Attack allows you to intercept an incoming attack and then smash your opponent away from you in order to knock him back several feet. Deadlocks are when the fighters' attacks meet each other in the same instant and then the engine will push them away from each other. The Critical Counters allow you to deal heaps of damage if you're able to time the perfect counterattack. The game feels accessible to KoF newcomers and even if you don't know what to expect, the game includes a simple mode for easy move execution to get you right into the fray (it waters down the experience, though. Play on normal mode).

But come on, doesn't this series usually have 40+ people, and more to unlock along the way? Here, the 22 characters you see is what you get. Still seems like a fair amount especially when you consider the amount of work that went into the sprites, but a few iconic characters were left out, and a few that are impossible to care for were put in. Adding onto this, the characters themselves aren't themselves, it seems... To all you veterans - better adapt to a change in your favorite characters' moves, or you'll be flattened! The movesets are usually completely different and/or there are some damn good ones removed, which is a pain in the ass, since I go to play as someone, only to feel like I'm controlling somebody else.

And remember those awesome bosses the series has? Yeah. This doesn't have one. I almost cried. I thought this would be the excellent first HD title with all the bells and whistles, but nah, they forgot the cream of the crop. They forgot many things like anything that'd keep you going through single player without resorting to online mode, they forgot to make arcade mode a hell of an experience with tons of fights, hidden characters and underlying challenges, so naturally, they forgot the epic final boss. This is unacceptable!

Lone wolves need not apply.
While the genre has a reputation for not being a single player one, this one makes it stupidly obvious. There's hardly anything to do in the offline modes. Sure, there's the arcade mode where the only reason to keep coming back is to get trophies or gamerscore, and the requirements/achievements are a bit ordinary and nothing to care for, but at the same time, mind boggling as to how uncreative they are, and a testament as to why fighting games and trophies/achivements don't go hand in hand so well. Beat arcade mode in 3 minutes and 30 seconds? Well, the most time you have to do this is 10 minutes, but if you want to get them all, you have to be really quick with your thumbs. Then there's KOing EVERY INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER with each individual character, which requires a lot of time, dedication and patience when you think about it. Then there's versus with a friend or two, and then practice mode. Seriously, what the hell were SNK thinking?

So what it equates to is that this relies heavily on online play. Yeah, uh, the last time that happened, I was blowing zombies' heads off with up to three mates who could afford to keep their computers up to date by my side. That was fun. This... It's promising at first. Not only can you fight random gamers from around the world, but whole teams can be assembled with a different person controlling each character. That's an awesome idea, for it takes the team building concepts from the older games and expands upon them. When you actually fight, though, the appeal drops down a bit. Considering how the game places so much importance on timing and tactics, you'd think more time would have been put into making the online gameplay as smooth as possible. Nope, I'm afraid SNK didn't do that. There's too much lag. Far too much. It drags down the combat and makes it nigh unplayable at times. The worst part is the wait time that comes when you're playing with a big group of people. There's no way to cancel out of a session, which means you're stuck watching the rest of your party play when you could be searching for a new opponent. Having to reset the entire game just to escape from a multiplayer menu is ridiculous!

Why do I get the feeling this was all SNK cared about?
So yeah, them beautiful visuals, hey... They're damn impressive! According to some sources, it took artists about a year to do each and every character sprite and animations. Holy shit, the effort actually shows! There's a hell of a lot of detail, putting other games utilizing sprites to shame! Damn! The same can be said for the backgrounds, which feel and seem to be springing with life! I don't care what anybody says; this are some of the best visuals I've seen in a video game since Killzone 2.

Ooh yeah, spirit!
The soundtrack seems mixed by many. Some say it's generic, others say it gets you in the mood. Me? I reckon it really gets you into the mood. Far from the most memorable soundtrack, it pumps you up a fair bit, heating up the blood to get you focused on and into the action. Can't say it's much else, though. It's just rock music that focuses the mind on beating the piss out of the opponent. Not much else.

Voice acting is also mixed by many. Some call it abominable, others say its good. Me? I'm mixed. Some of the voice acting is pretty good, but others just suck out loud! Either way, except for a certain announcer who has an annoying as hell voice, you don't hear many voices. There are grunts and victory lines, but that's about as far as it goes. Generally, there would be a lot of voice acting, but not much really comes out. Kind of bad, yet kind of good... I'm really mixed on this one.

Confused at recommendation.
I'm not sure if this is recommendable. It's nearly impossible to recommend this game, unless you absolutely have to play a new fighting game. Even so, I have to ask... why not BlazBlue? Why not Street Fighter 4? Why are you choosing this over them? This may have some spectacular visuals, but overall, it's just another fighting game that really halfassed the single player modes. Maybe in time, there will be some downloadable content to extend the experience. Hah! Maybe there will be some that will allow me to give a crap. Not recommended, unless you have money to piss away. Oh, it's playable, don't get me wrong; it's just not as good as it could've been.

Roster and stats:
Story: N/A
Gameplay: 7/10
This will probably piss veterans of the series off with changes up the ass with some characters and the engine itself, but for those looking to give this series or fighting games in general a shot, this isn't that bad of a start. It plays nicely, for the most part, managing to provide some intense fighting. It's no Blazblue, but it's still pretty fun to play through.
Controls: 9/10
Each of the fighters, you have competent control over. Throwing controls are a bit off, though.. well, the default ones, anyway. Just toggle the controls in the options menu. Yay. Should've kept the movesets and button inputs the same for the characters, though.
Graphics: 10/10
Silky smooth, shiny, and definitely jaw droppingly beautiful. They may be sprites, but they're still damn impressive. Backgrounds also have a lot of life to them.
Sound: 7/10
Nothing too memorable, but the soundtrack works in favor of the environment and the actions. It definitely keeps you pumped up while fighting. Voice acting is pretty hit and miss when it actually exists.
Other: -9
Let's be honest with ourselves; Street Fighter 4 and BlazBlue provide better online support, plus they're more fun to play than this one. Only buy this one if you absolutely have to please your fighting boner, and if those two games (and others) can't seem to satisfy it anymore.

Overall: 6.5/10

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