King Of Fighters XII (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Monday, August 3, 2009

Graphics: 10.00
Sound: 7.50
Gameplay: 8.50
Replays: 8.50
Gamelength: 8.50

“King Of Fighters XII” is a well-balanced game, but a few things still prevent it from taking the crown.

Since 1994, the “King Of Fighters” series has seen many releases across many different consoles. Just about every year, either a new title or a compilation of past titles is released somewhere around the world. Being one of the longest-standing 2D fighting games, love it or hate it, this series is here to stay. For that reason, it’s time to celebrate the upcoming 15th anniversary of the series. We’re going to do just that with the release of Ignition’s latest game, “King Of Fighters XII” for the Xbox 360.

It doesn’t take long to notice the astounding artwork designed exclusively for this game. Even by simply looking at the box cover, the new style is made very obvious and let me tell you, it’s nothing short of beautiful. Every single one of the character sprites has been dropped and completely redone in hand-drawn fashion by a team of fantastic artists to give the game a brand new look that rivals every other 2D game in the world. Characters look better than ever, but even more impressive are the new attack animations. From the simplest punch to the most detailed super special move, everything is gorgeous; so gorgeous, in fact, that it’s almost hard to focus on the action sometimes. For all intents and purposes, “King Of Fighters XII” couldn’t possibly look any better.

On the flip side, it seems as though the audio has taken a step back. The soundtrack is nothing in comparison to the previous titles and it most certainly doesn’t even come close to the intense soundtrack of Capcom’s “Street Fighter IV”. However, character voices and other sound effects are high quality and much clearer than those found in previous titles in the “King Of Fighters” series. Still, the audio is fine enough and definitely doesn’t break the flow of things.

Series veterans, prepare for a bit of disappointment. Several fan favorite characters are not included this time around. Not only that, but the game has almost completely been dumbed down and stripped of what made it so special in the past. By that, I mean that the game is primarily simple 2D fighting with a special bar and counters. In exchange for everything the series had in the past, we’re given the “Critical Counter” system. It’s rather easy to explain. If you time your attacks well enough, you’ll be able to perform a very powerful counter attack. Everything else is as basic as it gets. Punch, kick and perform special moves until the match is over. The 3-on-3 gameplay still exists in the primary arcade mode, but most people prefer 1-on-1 matches when playing online. Speaking of which, aside from the story-free arcade mode, there’s not much else to do. Yes, the previously mentioned online play does exist, but it’s almost unplayable. The game lags terribly online and the netcode is a waste of time. It’s a shame, though because this is a very fun game and I’d love to go head-to-head in a stable and lag-free environment for a few hours here and there. It’s fun to rank up and see your place on the leaderboards when it actually works. Oh, and for the record, buy an arcade controller or a Hori Ex controller. If you own a PlayStation 3, that wont be as much of a problem, but we all know how bad the Xbox 360 controller is lacking for 2D fighting games!

Overall, Ignition is on the right track, but they really need to do something about the online gameplay. It’s damn near unplayable.

Pros:
-Beautiful hand-drawn graphics.
-High quality sound effects.
-“Critical Counter” system is fun, even if difficult to master.
-Online play is fun when it actually works.

Cons:
-Only around 20 characters.
-Several fan-favorite characters are missing.
-Absolutely no story.
-Online play is laggy and broken.
-Controls stink on a standard Xbox 360 controller.

Bottom line:
If you’re serious about the “King of Fighters” series, you probably already have this game. Everyone else will have to weigh out the lack of good online play. If you think a single player or local multiplayer experience is good enough, buy it. Otherwise, skip this one and wait for KoF XIII.

Overall Rating: 8.50

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