- Beautiful HD hand drawn art: This isn’t 3D models with stylized cartoon rendering, this is authentic classically animated 2D art and animation. 2D art used to be the norm, and it was always limited by the 2D sprite processing technology of the time. Now, new games use 3D modeling, which is for the best overall, but it is amazing to see a new full production game done with hand-drawn 2D art that takes advantage of recent high-definition capable hardware power.
- Excellent Animation: The animation is simply gorgeous. All the animations and transitions are done with large numbers of hand-drawn animation frames and it shows. That is a very labor intensive process, which is why most games have much less animation frames, and more jerky animation. When comparing this, to something like Marvel vs Capcom 2, the difference is striking. (I know that is an older game, and not the most fair comparison).
- Core Fighting Engine: The action mechanics, the controls, the special attacks, the power meter, and the combo/chaining system are all very polished. The King of Fighters series has long been a fan favorite for long-term strategic competitive play, and this doesn’t disappoint.
- New User Accessibility: The controls are easier to use and it’s much easier to get into than many other recent big fighters.
- Online Play: (with recent 1.02 patch) I was prepared for the worst, but my play experiences were very smooth and had no noticeable lag. For a novice player like myself, the matchmaking was sufficient, and I had no problems finding online games. While, spectating, I had horribly laggy experiences, which was annoying, but it was just spectating.
- Extras: Very thorough and fun trophy system, free XMB theme on the disc.
- Bare Bones Product: While other fighters of recent years have thrown in tons and tons of special modes, special training features, elaborate single player campaigns, hundreds of multiplayer options, hyper polished menu systems, and bonus fan content, this is a disappointingly bare bones affair. For a full-priced 2009 release, this is simply behind the times. There simply are not a lot of modes or extras and the core content is very minimalist. The single player has no real story and is extremely simple. I actually beat it on my first try without using continues (admittedly on Simple control mode). The interface screens are also extremely minimal, unattractive, and confusing to navigate through.
- Less fighters and stages: There are twenty two playable characters, which is low by KoF standards, but perfectly fine compared with other fighters. It’s also generous given that SNK reportedly spent as much as a year and a half for a team of ten animators to finish a single fighter. There are also only five stages, which is definitely too few.
King of Fighters is one of the most popular fighting series, and with this release, they’re finally giving fans full HD artwork, a major improvement to the animation, a polished fighting engine, and Internet multiplayer. There is a disappointing lack of polish that can be found in other recent fighting games, but this is overall an excellent fighting game, and is obviously much better than the wave of ported back-catalog 2D fighters on PSN.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of King of Fighters XII provided by SNK Playmore.
Written by: Darrin
- Contributing Editor