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Jahanzeb Khan
26 Oct, 2009

The King of Fighters XII Review

360 Review | King Nothing.
This year has been a fantastic run for fighting games and it all started with the release of Street Fighter IV, which created momentum for other game developers to take advantage of. This year, SNK Playmore has also boarded this bandwagon by releasing a new entry to The King of Fighters series, simply titled The King of Fighters XII (KOF XII). This latest entry celebrates the 15th year anniversary of this long running fighting game series, so is it a game worth getting excited about when there are already so many great fighting games out there? The home version of this latest 2D arcade brawler will be available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

The King of Fighters(KOF) is one of the pioneers of the 2D fighting genre. We have seen several games over the years and initially, each new game brought something new to the table in terms of graphics and gameplay, but then at some point each new sequel started to feel like an expansion pack, overly recycling an outdated graphics engine while making incremental changes and refinements to the gameplay. KOF XII however is unlike the KOF games we have seen over the past 5 years, as this time SNK Playmore have gone back to the drawing board to build a completely new game from the ground up, both in terms of graphics and gameplay.

A brand new look! and it is about time!

A brand new look! and it is about time!
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The first most obvious feature that will catch your attention is the new and improved graphics. KOF XII features gorgeous high resolution 2D sprites that have amazing detail and quality. The character models and designs are truly breathtaking, certainly raising the bar for other 2D video games. The amount of detail, animation and fluidity of these sprites has indeed lived up to all the hype. It certainly feels like a modern HD anime that you can control and the 3D special effects also look stellar as they mix nicely with the 2D graphics. The character designs are impressive too, as each of the characters in this game have been given a major make over. We feel this is a good change as it certainly gives new life to characters that have looked the same for the past 15 years. The backdrops look nice but aren’t as ground breaking as the character sprites seem to have taken all the attention. Overall, the graphics and visuals of KOF XII are a complete overhaul, we are glad to see this legendary fighting series finally have a new and modern look, it’s not only the best looking KOF game you will ever see but it is also one of the best looking 2D games of the year, rivaling the likes of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger.

The music is pretty decent as well, some nice variety but the track selection isn’t very large unfortunately. The tracks that are present are pretty cool and adrenaline pumping, with rock being the dominant style. The game is voiced in English but there is nothing really impressive about the voice acting, and in fact some characters such as Leona sound very odd.

While a cursory glance may reveal that this is just another 2D fighting game that plays exactly like any of the KOF games we have seen before, returning to the three vs. three team battles of early KOF video games. Thankfully KOF XII ends up being as fresh in gameplay as it is in graphics. KOF XII feels like a real 2D ‘slug fest’ where each punch, kick, special and throw has a profound impact and has the same degree of pure, simple and hard hitting combat as the highly acclaimed classic KOF 98. Modern 2D fighting games have featured layers upon layers of mechanics and require gamers to pull off a long string of complex techniques and combos. KOF XII however, goes back to basics and that is perhaps the main reason why it is so much fun to play. The game plays as brilliantly as it is fast, responsive and flows really well. It is fairly easy to get into this game and get the hang of its mechanics.

Get ready for some good old fashioned 2D brawls.

Get ready for some good old fashioned 2D brawls.
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In terms of the actual combat system, each character comes equipped with unique special moves and as well as super desperation moves, which utilize the super gauge. The game also has a new quick evasion system which allows players to nicely dodge attacks and there are enough opportunities to pull it off. The game has a hard hitting counter and guard system that requires proper timing of a strong strike, there is also a ‘Critical Counter’ (It comes with its own gauge) which creates a good setup for a blistering fast combo. The counter system is quite easy and straight forward, and in no time gamers will be able to pull off counters as long as they time it properly. Finally, there are collisions and staggers, which means that there will be times when you and your opponent will land a hit at the same time and this will result a high impact collision. This small change certainly makes bouts that much more intense and dramatic, reminiscent of hand to hand battles than can be seen in anime and other media.

KOF XII offers two modes of play, Normal and Simple. In Normal mode, players play the game as they normally would but in Simple mode everything is much more... simplified, for lack of a better description. Executing special moves in this mode requires a simple button press instead of inputting the entire motion command. While the true enjoyment lies in Normal mode, Simple mode is meant for those who have never played a KOF video game before.

It is clear by now that KOF XII delivers in gameplay and graphics and so the core game itself is quite brilliant in all honesty. However, we know that there is much more to a home version of a fighting game than just the core game itself. Now this is where things go very bad, and it is because of the following list of flaws alone that you will find a very unflattering score at the end of the review. In this day and age, home versions of fighting games need content and modes to justify the full retail price tag. Particularly as the home versions of Tekken, Soul Calibur and Street Fighter packed with plenty of exclusive modes and features. The problem with KOF XII is that it is simply lacking in modes and content. Home versions of past KOF games were also quite empty but KOF XII is shockingly even more bare bones than those games.

Plenty of cool moves and combos to master.

Plenty of cool moves and combos to master.
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KOF XII comes with an arcade, versus, training, online multiplayer and gallery mode. The arcade mode is short and there are only 6 stages on offer. The gallery mode is small and the training mode doesn’t come with many training options. There is no survival mode or even challenge mode, which had somewhat became a staple in prior home versions of KOF games. Finally, the online mode, which has become the most valued feature any modern fighting game is as flawed as all the other modes. Overall, KOF XII is just a very empty game, it has a criminally small selection of modes that are very half baked.

KOF XII features a roster of only 22 characters, falling much short of the massive roster of characters that we have seen in most KOF games. A lot of fans are going to be disappointed by the small selection here and by the omission of several favourites. However we feel that the small roster can be justified in the sense that a lot of work has gone into building these characters again from the ground up, and we have to say the quality is impressive. What is even more impressive is that most of the characters handle much differently than they did in past KOF games, a good example being Iori Yagami. Overall, we feel that the character selection is good and there is enough variety for all types of players.

The only glaring flaw with the roster is that the game has no final boss character, KOF games have always featured a larger than life final boss fight but in this game we get no proper boss battle, instead we face a random team in the final stage. All 22 characters are available from the get go so there isn’t really much incentive to play this game by yourself, other than to unlock artwork in the game’s small and modest gallery mode.

Great graphics and solid gameplay, too bad everything else is lacking.

Great graphics and solid gameplay, too bad everything else is lacking.
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There are other flaws in this home version that indicate that the port is not only bare bones, but it is also rushed. The menu designs are terrible, very bland and simplistic. The structure of the arcade mode is poorly designed and made worse with some awful and pointless cut scenes. Presentation wise, the game is bland and while there are no serious technical issues with the core game itself, there are frequent load times even during a fight. Another flaw that we stated earlier is the small selection of stages. There are only 6 stages and the game really could have used a lot more stages and backdrops, given that the limited selection that is offered isn’t very impressive.

The King of Fighters XII is a brilliant fighting game at the core but when we consider the fact that this is supposed to be a full priced retail release, the game falls short. A rushed and bare bones port like this, regardless of how good the core game itself is, is simply not acceptable in this day and age. To make things worse, the minimum content and modes on offer here are poorly executed and presented. Had this game been a budget release or an XBLA/PSN release, we would have whole heartedly recommended it but to pay full price for a fighting game with so little content is simply difficult to justify. That said, SNK Playmore has a fantastic engine in place here and hopefully the next KOF entry will be a much more complete video game.
The Score
The King of Fighters XII is a brilliant fighting game at the core, courtesy of its fantastic new graphics engine and a solid 2D combat mechanics but the home version really could have been so much more.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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18 Comments
4 years ago
inb4 LeonJ's broken heart.
4 years ago
I was actually quite disappointed.
Of course note that I've only played the version in arcades which has been out for quite some time. (I did play both PS3 and Xbox360 versions at Supanova Sydney earlier this year)
I felt the lack of a final boss extremely disappointing. The hand-drawn visuals were nice, sure, but things like Iori's new moves was kind of a disappointment to me.

Also, in terms of versing the computer, the 'stagger' effect basically means you can doll out the same combos continuously and just own the comp. I found I could do that even with most human opponents I played with. This was especially so whilst using Kyo Kusanagi and Shen Woo. Shen Woo's forward-punch (or something similar) pretty much can be used over and over again because it staggers the opponent almost 100% of the time and before they can recover you can just hit them again. Of course a good human opponent can easily counter, but your average human opponent, and the computer really don't know how to counter you.
A noticeable disappointment given I usually enjoy versing the computer and humans in previous KoF games.

Anyway, despite all of this the main issue for me is how short the Vs CPU was. Past KoF's were always rather enjoyable. But I felt this one was way too quick and brief. (and no boss? Did I mention that?)
4 years ago
I would say 7/10.Yes it lacks a LOT but what there is is pretty awesome.
4 years ago
I was so pumped for this game, I love the series but this was horrible, I played a few games online when I got it on 360 and it was just unplayable, was matrix styles...

They changed a few moves too what was stupid, Iori has totally dif moves....

what the deuce...

They should have done what Sf4 did, only not make the game suck... I kinda regret this purchase a tad, but oh wells icon_sad.gif
4 years ago
The game is very playable, it's okay locally with a few mates, good fun and i liked the counter system at the start, but they could have made this so much better. Maybe they will get it right with 13.

They need to go back to the core roster numbers too, if your playing 3v3 you need a bigger roster imo.
4 years ago
As someone who's not played KoF before, I found this game to be bare bones. I played through the simple, short and straight forward Arcade mode and then.... ran out of things to do? The only real challenges I could see were attempting to beat the Arcade mode in less time or playing online. Comparing it to BlazBlue or Street Fighter IV, I found it severely lacking in features.
4 years ago
5.5/10 is on par for a non-fan.

I'd add +1.5 for any fan, I think 7.0/10 is about right.

While it's true there isn't much meat there, the core game mechanics are on par with the best in the series. It's very smooth, balanced and fast and a welcome change back to the old from XI. The graphics and sound are top notch (despite my hate of the pixel zoom by default) and the backgrounds probably are best 2D in a fighting game. The game itself is highly polished and very fun to play.

What is dissapointing for me is the lack of the promised patch for the online component. It's still unplayable online and basically just a single player game. I think they have moved on an started work on KOF XIII because everything seems to have dried up completely for support of this game (despite the 'new music' DLC release on the Japanese store).

I don't get the whole menu bashing thing. The menus are FINE, functional and slick. Go check out Blazblue's online menu is you truely want to see something nasty.

Also, if you install the disc (360 version anyway) to the HDD, the loading is non-existant.

But at the end of the day, even at $89.95 it's a very steep. This really should have been a DLC game at around $29.95. If you compare Super SFII HD to this, they are pretty much the same in terms on content. And if you compare this with SFIV and Blazblue it's embrassing.
4 years ago
When is the Tekken 6 review coming out?
4 years ago
ZeroX03 wrote
When is the Tekken 6 review coming out?
When the game is released like usual I'd assume.
4 years ago
Vervulus Maximus wrote
ZeroX03 wrote
When is the Tekken 6 review coming out?
When the game is released like usual I'd assume.
Australian Release Date: 1/10/2009 (Confirmed)

The King of Fighters XII Review: 26 Oct, 2009.

Yeah, right. I wasn't asking you anyway.
4 years ago
ZeroX03 wrote
Vervulus Maximus wrote
ZeroX03 wrote
When is the Tekken 6 review coming out?
When the game is released like usual I'd assume.
Australian Release Date: 1/10/2009 (Confirmed)

The King of Fighters XII Review: 26 Oct, 2009.
Yes well Tekken 6 is from a well known series who's release is going to be huge whereas KOF is a much more "niche" series in comparison so it's only normal for it's review to be done quicker then KOF's.

Plus I never said on release day. Just meant after the game is released.

ZeroX03 wrote
Yeah, right. I wasn't asking you anyway.
Then you should have stated that in your question Zero. As opposed to leaving the question open for anyone to answer.
4 years ago
Hey man, princess worked better.
4 years ago
ZeroX03 wrote
Hey man, princess worked better.
Thought I should make myself more clear instead princess. icon_razz.gif

Anyway more on topic I'd previously been planning on getting this game but after realising just how barebones it is I might just ingore it and just get an older KOF game on PS2.
4 years ago
It should be bargin priced soon. Just wait. It's certainly worth $50. I actually paid about $55 for the Asian version from play-asia anyway.
4 years ago
Being that I'm somewhat of a competitive player, I couldn't care less about having unnecessary modes like survival or mission. To this day I've hardly touched the extra modes in SFIV and BlazBlue. All I need for a fighter is arcade, vs, training, and online to a small extent.

My only complaint with the game is that the localization is a little sloppy with the initial bad online gameplay and the Raiden/Elisabeth glitch. Lastly, anyone who berates this game because Iori's (or anyone else's) movelist is different is... putting it as politely as possible... quite dumb. I guess they didn't bother playing KOFXI, otherwise they'd understand why Iori changed.
4 years ago
It is very disappointing. But still vastly superior to the ugly art, clunky physics, dumbed down gameplay, and presentation abortion that is Street Fighter EX4. I will NEVER forgive Capcom for what they have done.
4 years ago
If you are refering to SFIV then I have no repect for you sir, the fighting game of this generation. SFIV is my Mario 64.

Chunky pyhics? Please play SFIV and then try and play a 2D fighter again.
4 years ago
I don't agree on the backgrounds, I noticed there is a stage when you are at the far right, it's actually hard to see your character, I'm at work atm, so the stage escapes me atm.

If they fixed online it would be fun but atm, I regret the purchase :X
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  1/10/2009 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  All Interactive Entertainment
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  2

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