PS3 Reviews: King of Fighters XII Review

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King of Fighters XII Review

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Replay Value:



Online Gameplay:



Overall Rating:       7.3




Ignition/SNK Playmore


SNK Playmore

Number Of Players:

1-2 (Online 2)



Release Date:

July 29th, 2009

I've had King of Fighters XII in my possession for many, many weeks now. I've played it quite a bit and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Shortly after I got a build of KOF12, I also got BlazBlue, which prompted me to put KOF12 on the backburner for a while. Now, I know a lot of die-hard KOF fans will lambaste me for comparing the two together, but ultimately, they're both 2D fighters and will be compared to one another. Yes, sure, they're both completely different - that's one argument I've heard repeatedly. But that didn't stop Virtua Fighter and Tekken from enduring endless comparisons for the past 15 years.

King of Fighters is renowned for its groundbreaking 3-on-3 gameplay elements, and in the world of Street Fighter, King of Fighters has been Megadeth in the Metallica-Megadeth feud. Save your opinions on the quality of both bands, because I'm talking strictly about the popularity of both franchises. With the resurgence of the fighting genre, SNK has taken a note and has given us their twelfth KOF game, with 3-on-3 fighting intact.

Boasting a total of 22 fighters, this KOF game is actually quite a radical departure from the past games, which have been known to feature nearly double that amount. But with games like Street Fighter IV, Super SFII Turbo HD, BlazBlue, and Virtua Fighter V boasting a similar number of fighters, 22 is still a very acceptable by today's standards, and SNK has already stated to be working on more to download. The primary reason why KOF strays from featuring an excessive amount of fighters is largely due to the length it took SNK's developers to create one fighter.

Because the game utilizes all new hand-drawn sprites, for absolutely every piece of aesthetic detail, it took SNK as long as a year and a half to have a team of ten people finish work on one fighter. Even though the workforce behind KOF12 was decently sized, if you do the math you realize that it took quite a bit of time and manpower to develop the game, possibly as many as three years (assuming 100 people on character creation duty). To get the total of 22 fighters, the console versions feature 20 from the arcade game, and two exclusives: Mature and Elisabeth. The list as follows:

Ash Crimson
Duo Lon
Shen Woo
Kyo Kusanagi
Benimaru Nikaido
Goro Daimon
Iori Yagami
Athena Asamiya
Sie Kensou
Chin Gentsai
Terry Bogard
Andy Bogard
Joe Higashi
Kim Kaphwan
Ryo Sakazaki
Robert Garcia
Ralf Jones
Clark Still
Leona Heidern
Elisabeth Branctorche

On the topic of fighters, most of the characters featured are from the earlier entries in the series, with the exception of a select few. This was done intentionally to please fans of the franchise, and avoid having too many people complaining about a cast of unknowns. Furthermore, because the fighters are from older KOF games, they also wear their original KOF outfits, as well.

So far, I've only been describing what's to be found. What about what you won't find? Well, you won't find a storyline here. The game does not continue from where KOF2003 left off, so don't expect to play a game that'll fill in any gaps. Furthermore, and perhaps worst of all, because there is no storyline, there are no character endings, so running through the arcade mode has little-to-no incentive if you're the type who likes to unlock endings with every fighter.

The lack of a story and endings is a hard pill to swallow considering how superb BlazBlue was in that aspect. Then, there's the lack of variation. A limited amount of stages makes the game feel redundant, and many of the fighters have lost a number moves from their list. On top of that, there simply isn't anything beyond standard fighting to really entice. There are a number of things to like, but you'd have to be a hardcore fan to really love it and forget all about the other shortcomings.

Gameplay has returned to a four button layout, with the 3-on-3 matches consisting of five rounds each. Tactical Shift is gone, but a Critical Counter mechanic and a Clash mechanic has been introduced. Critical Counter is engaged when one player counters an attack with a strong punch, which then sets off the mechanic, putting the player into a mode that'll give them a brief window to allow them to string a small attack combo. And if your timing is solid, you can even pull off a special attack as your Critical Counter time expires.

The Clash system is similar to Street Fighter's parry system, in which when both fighters strike simultaneously using the same attack, the game will break the characters up by splitting them up, creating distance. Then there are the Guard Breaks and the Super gauge acts like it did in KOF94, slowly depleting once it's reached Max. The action has the tendency to go from fun, to absolutely intense, and I really loved that about the game. In fact, witnessing all of the crazy displays and pulling off some of the more advanced special attacks in the game are almost incentive enough to play the game.

From a competitive perspective, the most important aspect of this game is also one that started out great, but as people populated it more, it began to bog down. The online netcode for two-player matches was pretty solid early in the week KOF12 launched, but just a few days later, stability problems began to arise left and right. At the moment, SNK and Ignition are working on patching the netcode to ensure online matches are virtually lag-free, so you won't be able to call shenanigans when you get your ass handed to you. The fans are also asking for a boot player option, filtering games by connection speed, among other features. In the meantime, the list of features for online does include voice chat, worldwide rankings, matchmaking, in-game invites, and trophies. Hopefully SNK irons this out so we can bump the online score a bit up.

Much like BlazBlue, KOF12 looks absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to the hand-drawn visuals, the visuals look smooth and stunning, and it's certainly nice to see the game's fighters rendered in an all new look. The color palette is vivid, with a roaring light show for your eyes to indulge in every time a special attack is pulled off, giving the gamer the eye-candy they look for. The backgrounds, which are completely three-dimensional are a sight to see, but it'd have been nice to see more than just the five stages the game comes with, which is a huge disappointment. There are also some jagged edges to be seen when the game camera zooms in during close-quarter combat, nothing terrible, but it's there. Still, KOF12 is a great looking fighting game that'll really open up your eyes if you're playing it on a proper HDTV. We just hope to see some stages added as free DLC, or something - five is just too damn few.

Now, onto the audio. Sure, unlike BlazBlue there is no voice acting here, but there is a superb soundtrack with some great all new tunes, proving SNK's still got it when it comes down to a nice list of tunes. A sound test in sound options allows you to listen to the game's soundtrack if you wish, which is nice. But why didn't we get any remixes of tracks from older games? I hate it when new fighters come out and the developers keep the game stripped of references from past games, especially audio. Give us some nostalgia, won't you? Thankfully, sound effects such as all of the attacks sound bold, boomy, and fierce, helping to keep the solidity of the action present.

All in all, King of Fighters XII clearly lacks in certain areas. It has a poor selection of stages, no story, no endings, less moves, lack of innovative game modes, and an online netcode that is currently hampered. But with slick visuals and superb gameplay mechanics, KOF12 may be worth the price of admission to the devout KOF fan. Besides, once the netcode is fixed, that's one giant incentive to really get into the game, because the bottomline is that it's a ton of fun. Furthermore, with a PlayStation Store option in the main menu, I also expect to see new stages and fighters added sometime in the near future - I just hope we don't have to pay too much for them. I'd prefer not to pay for the stages, really - the fighters I understand take a lot more time and effort. Also, I should mention that the optional game install makes things run quicker, and I would recommend it.

If you're looking for only one full fledged fighter loaded to the brim with goodies, BlazBlue is what you get. Unless you're a hardcore fan, wait a bit before splurging on this $60 game. Give it time to hit $40 or less.

8/1/2009 Arnold Katayev

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (18 posts)

Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 9:23:30 PM

:( Life is empty without Blazblue :(

Haven't played King of Fighters but hey I can easily buy one of the games on PS2

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 6:09:57 PM

lord alucard, nice pic logo, and i just downloaded the sotn on PSN lol

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 8/2/2009 6:10:43 PM

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 9:26:52 PM

Poor King of Fighters XII...

Street Fighter IV is where it's at!

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 2:05:51 AM

Yeah but still Kof 98>SF IV

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 6:45:18 AM

Blazblue > KoF 98 > SFIV

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 10:01:39 PM

It'll do decently, I'm sure, I just hope that in the end Capcom and SNK do their thing and spin out a new CvSNK. Those games are insane.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 10:15:35 PM

I'm still waiting for CvM2 that should have already been out on PSN by now :(

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 10:13:17 PM

First time in a long time I was thoroughly disappointed with a game. Online is near unplayable as it is and lets face it, online is all this game really has.

Its "Arcade" mode sucks, And the games AI (If you could even call it that) is one of the worst I have ever seen in a fighting game. They can be on the other side of the screen and they will be throwing wild punchs in the air, and they will do that for the entire match.

I know redrawing the sprites and such took a lot of time so I was not expecting a lot. But my god, I was expecting a hell of a lot more than this.

PS. Flameless Iori = Neutered Iori...

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 10:26:05 PM

Well im a huge fan of KOF... and this was a dissapointment @Oyashiro: your right Iori has been put down and its lacking content and substance from its AI. Overall it seemse SNK was focused on delivering a good looking fighter with good mechanics, which they have and im pleased with just fighting my friends locally and hopefully Arnold is right about assuming new DLC will come in the form of costumes and characters. Besides that PSN shortcut can't just be for show... can it?

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Saturday, August 01, 2009 @ 11:30:06 PM

I feel bad for them, those hand drawn sprites don't look like anything special. Looks like SNES graphics.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 2:10:05 AM

Yeah the old ones are better...this game would be better with letting the old ones and putting stages kinda Blazblue and all of the existent rooster of all the kof games and give us a story mode per team.

that was the game I wanted not this horrible thing.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 2:36:18 AM

The real best KoFs of this gen will arrive later in the 360's/PS3's lifetimes; that is, this is a build to help give the next ones a jump-start. As for the graphics being like SNES, that's an outright fabrication.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 2:40:58 AM

damn i was really waiting for this game , i really love kof . i think i'll get blueblaze instead
it is from the samy guys who created guilty gear x right?????

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Banky A
Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 5:46:09 AM


.. It is right? lol

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 3:21:25 AM

i am in total ecstasy with BlazBlue limited edition, and I got SF4 new copy for 19.99 two days ago (which I originally plan to skip) but now it is in my collection as well due to the price cut.

I will definitely pass the KOF12 as I originally planned cuz it does not give me any excitement; now I am just waiting for ekken 6 then I am done with my fighter collections on PS3, with my DOA4 on 360 ofcourse. :P

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 8/2/2009 3:24:11 AM

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 4:42:08 AM

doa4 is the best fighting game ever any word on do5?????

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 6:08:32 PM

yes, DOA4 alone is the best, nothing more needed imo

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Sunday, August 02, 2009 @ 6:26:54 AM

@ banky
lol way too manny spelling mistakes i know . i kinda changed the writing language on my macbook to french then the keyboard went haywire. ops

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