|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SNK Playmore||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Ent. / SNK Playmore||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (Local), 2-6 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
March 23, 2009 - Although some might not like to admit it, one of the first things that shapes your opinion of a game is the way it looks. Graphics are very important in a title, especially in this generation, and games like Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and Killzone 2 gained initial attention because of the way they looked. Although The King of Fighters series has never had a reputation for being visually-intensive, the twelfth entry in the series is looking to change all that with something rarely seen in modern day graphics: 100% hand-drawn visuals.
I can't even remember any other title that could make such a bold claim, but the fact that The King of Fighters XII has been in development for the past three years definitely lends some credence to this assertion. Although it looks like some of the animation and character modeling is done using a computer, the pixel art you see onscreen is done by hand, which is an impressive feat indeed. Although, if you are not a fan of the old-school look per se, King of Fighters XII will have an anti-aliasing option to help smooth out the pixels.
Although the visuals are certainly what is drawing a lot of attention to this title, the gameplay is definitely going to be a big part as well. For those experienced with The King of Fighters series, the same type of 2D brawling will again be the basis of this new iteration, with an emphasis on classic 3-on-3 team-based combat. However, there are a few notable differences to this tried-and-true formula. One major difference is the Tactical Shift System from The King of Fighters 2003 has been removed and replaced with a "critical counter" system.
This counter system is a lot simpler to use than the Tactical Shift system, and it will allow players to enter a special counter mode after successfully landing a counterattack. This counter mode will permit the character to land a number of attacks with increased speed that can be chained together for a short period of time after the mode has been enacted. Once the critical counter mode is getting ready to end, there will be an onscreen signal, which will give your character the opportunity to unleash a combo-finishing special attack. In addition to these special attacks, there will also be new power moves for each character that have been re-imagined especially for The King of Fighters XII.
Both the battle system and the visuals seem to be getting a huge facelift for The King of Fighters XII, but one thing that fans will definitely appreciate is the character roster. Although there will only be 20 playable characters in this entry in the series (there were more than 40 in The King of Fighters 11), all of the characters that are included are series favorites. Fighters like Ash Crimson, Kyo Kusanagi, Terry Bogard, and Benimaru Nikaido will all be back for The King of Fighters XII, and each will be presented the way you remember them from previous The King of Fighters games. The only notable exception is the inclusion of Raiden from SNK's Fatal Fury series, who is making his debut in The King of Fighters XII.
The characters may be back for this game, but it is important to point out that The King of Fighters XII will not be continuing any of the story arcs from previous The King of Fighters series. Fans who are expecting a resolution to the Ash story arc presented in other The King of Fighters games will have to wait for a direct follow-up to that particular entry to be announced. Instead, it looks like The King of Fighters will go the way of most other combat-focused games and drop the plot in favor of rigorous combat and unaffected team creation.
Although it has been four years since The King of Fighters XI, it looks like the time off has done it some serious good. The part of this title I am sure most people are looking forward to is its hand-drawn visuals, but the new elements of the combat system will draw in new and old fans as well. At this point, it seems the only thing we don't know about The King of Fighters XII is what the online modes (if there are any) will entail. But, it seems this title is definitely trying to become one of the most graphically impressive of the year, and it will certainly be interesting to see how it all turns out when The King of Fighters XII is released this summer.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor