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The King of Fighters XII (Xbox 360) artwork

The King of Fighters XII (Xbox 360) review


"There are better fighting games out there today, and if you really insist on wanting to check this series out, don’t start with this one."



I’ve never played a King of Fighters game before, but I read up on the series prior to booting up my copy of The King of Fighters XII. It’s a well established name in the fighting genre, and people seem to reminisce fondly of many of the past games in the series, holding them in very high regard.

If that is all true, this latest entry will be a severe disappointment.

There isn’t anything notably wrong with the core of the game. The King of Fighters XII is a straightforward 2D fighting game that consists primarily of three-on-three matches, though characters cannot be swapped mid-battle. Each character has four basic attacks – light punch, hard punch, light kick, and hard kick – but combining these attacks with a push or a swivel of the control stick generates sometimes more useful ‘special’ moves. You can execute blocks, parries, and throws, and filling your super gauge at the bottom over the course of the battle by attacking or being attacked by your opponent lets you pull a super move. These are all standard in fighting games nowadays, so if you’ve dabbled in them, you should know what to expect.

The biggest problem, though, is that everything else feels so lazily done. The Arcade mode, which comprises of five matches against the AI, is underwhelming to say the least. There is no story, except for the fact that your team of three has entered a competition and that their and your objective is to win the matches as quickly as possible to rank as high as you can on the leaderboards. Come out victorious by the end, and you’re greeted by a “Congratulations” screen, which is pretty anti-climactic and abrupt considering there’s no notable difference between your fourth and final fights apart from the different random opponents, with no boss battle to speak of. There is no interaction between your team at all, and the only time you see them is when you take control of them in battle. No matter which characters you choose, Arcade remains pretty much unchanged with the same story and the same cut-scenes (with the same terrible voice-acting).

Besides the half-arsed Arcade, the only other two offline modes are Versus and Practice, which means if you don’t have anyone else to play with in the same room as you, your options are very limited. The Versus isn’t all that bad if you have someone else with you, and can be quite enjoyable. The twenty-two characters are relatively balanced and varied, even though their move lists are pretty short, and you could potentially spend a bit of time experimenting with them and trying to determine your strongest team of three. Unfortunately, there is little point taking the game online, because it becomes unbearable to play. The lag is horrendous and the battles play out almost like slideshows. It is impossible to have a good online match, and the multiplayer aspect is, put simply, a waste of time. Even the character select screens lag, which is just baffling.

There is also a list of smaller issues that annoyed me, like how I wanted to shut up the announcer every single time she opened her mouth, or like how you can’t return to the main menu from the character select screen, which seems sort of dumb. There are only a small handful of stages included, and the game doesn’t look all that attractive to look at.

But instead of going on about its flaws and talking about how King of Fighters XII is wasted potential, I’ll conclude by saying – as a newcomer to the King of Fighters franchise – that there are better fighting games out there today, and if you really insist on wanting to check the series out, don’t start with this one.

Rating: 4/10

Ben's avatar
Freelance review by Ben Lee (October 11, 2009)

Ben used to freelance for HonestGamers. Now he spends his spare time dying repeatedly on Spelunky.

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