The King of Fighters XII

The King of Fighters XII is a welcome change of pace for the series as a whole

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Ignition Entertainment The King of Fighters XII
  • Ignition Entertainment The King of Fighters XII
  • Ignition Entertainment The King of Fighters XII
  • Ignition Entertainment The King of Fighters XII

Pros

  • Impressive graphics, slimmed-down fighting system feels more natural

Cons

  • Not enough content, lack of features doesn't provide a truly deep experience

Bottom Line

While it doesn't stand toe-to-toe with games like BlazBlue and Street Fighter IV, The King of Fighters XII still has enough style that some SNK fans will appreciate some long overdue change.

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Every once in a while, a video game comes along in a series that polarises the fan base. The King of Fighters is one of those games, packing some eye-popping visuals and streamlined gameplay, but not much else in the way of features. While it doesn't stand toe-to-toe with games like BlazBlue and Street Fighter IV, KOF XII still has enough style that some SNK fans will appreciate some long overdue change.

The King of Fighters XII is a welcome change of pace for the series as a whole, but it's still been a difficult game for me to review. For the longest time, SNK's usual modus operandi with the series has been to recycle the graphics, refine the gameplay and add as many characters as they can fit into the game's DVD disk. On some level, that's exactly what the die-hard fans of the series have come to expect, and it wasn't yet on the verge of getting stale, judging by sales of The King of Fighters XI.

That's why KoF XII is such a wild (and impressive) change of pace. From the minute I first saw the game, I've been impressed by the graphics, a large canvas of hand crafted 2D pixels on huge character models. By far, this is the biggest selling point for KoF XII, as each fighter on the decently-sized roster has benefited from the new art design Old veterans like Terry Bogard, Joe Higashi and Kim Kaphwan look like dynamite in their new, buffed up designs, while remodeled fighters like Athena Asamiya and Leona Heidern really benefit from the new artwork. More than anything, KoF XII reminds me of the original Art of Fighting game on the NEO-GEO system, which I loved for the huge, blocky graphics that still flowed like water.

Pretty Fighter

Still, The King of Fighters XII can't survive on looks alone, which becomes glaringly obvious in single-player competition. Where other fighting games come with tried-and-true content like story modes, challenge trials and unlockable characters, KoF XII stops just short with little more than an arcade-style time attack mode and an art gallery. When you've played the game for a few hours with all the characters, you've essentially covered the entirety of the experience. I can't help but feel like KoF XII dumped all its potential into the graphics and artwork at the risk of the features, and compared to other fighting games, it just seems like there's not enough to do in the long run.

For the most part, that's why I don't recommend playing KoF XII solo: you can get restless pretty easily. Still, there is the promise of upcoming DLC, and the online clan system should be good for cranking a few more hours out of the main game. Of course, playing against a buddy on the couch or in the office is the best way to get your mileage out of KoF XII.

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