Giant Bomb Review

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The King of Fighters XII Review

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The core fighting in King of Fighters XII is really sharp, but everything surrounding it is a little disappointing.


The roster is decent, but you'll probably notice some omissions. 
The long-running King of Fighters series has always been top-notch, and it's the flagship for SNK Playmore's style of 2D fighting. Over the years, the roster in the KOF series has grown and shrunk, move lists have expanded and contracted, and the standard three-on-three format has been tweaked around a bit. But one thing remained constant over the last decade: the character sprites. Until they released Mark of the Wolves and changed up his look a bit, you could always count on Terry Bogard to be standing there, in his jacket and hat, shouting "hey c'mon c'mon" at his opponent. But for the duration of the series, the game looked roughly the same. That's part of why King of Fighters XII feels like such an event. All of the characters have been redrawn. They're now larger on-screen, and more frames of animation are used. But even under all the fancy new art, the game still feels like KOF.

At the same time, KOF XII doesn't exactly feel like a great deal. The roster of 22 characters is pretty small by series standards, and fan favorites like Mai Shiranui are nowhere to be found. Also, the game is missing a lot of the little extras that gave the series its charm, like the special intro animations used in past entries to highlight rivalries between characters. Also, the game's arcade mode feels like it was thrown in without any thought to making it more than just a series of fights. You create a team and fight five teams as a time trial. Your score is the time it takes you to complete all of the fights. Other than a couple of cutscenes that talk about the nature of the time trials, there's really nothing else to it. There's no final boss, no character-specific storylines, nothing.

Without a meaningful single-player experience to fall back on, KOF XII is very dependent on the quality of its multiplayer. Naturally, this is at its best when you're playing against another local player, but the game also has an online mode. The online feels pretty spotty on both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, even after a set of patches designed to improve the online performance were released during the game's week of release. I've certainly encountered some matches that ran just fine, but more often than not, the game teeters on the edge of unplayability. It's too bad, because the online mode has a good set of features, including a six-player quarter match style of setup. On the PS3, there's a cool option for creating and managing clans.

It's a shame that the online and all of the other stuff that surrounds King of Fighters XII's gameplay isn't better, because the actual fighting game itself is really sharp. It sticks pretty close to the series' conventions, but breaks rank in a few spots by adding the "guard attack," which is a move that turns a block into a counter if timed properly. There's also a "blow back attack," which feels sort of similar to Street Fighter IV's focus attacks. If you hit someone with a fully charged blow back, it crumples them, setting you up for a follow-up attack. There's also a "critical counter" system that, when triggered, lets you unleash a quick flurry of attacks, almost like a Street Fighter Alpha 3 V-ism combo. The different systems are interesting and merge with the standard four-button SNK style pretty well.

You'll fight in huge arenas at the start and end of the arcade mode. 
The presentation in KOF XII is fine, but there aren't very many backgrounds to choose from. The characters are well-animated, but sometimes look weirdly blocky. You can turn on a few different filters to blur the blocky edges a bit, but at some point this just makes the fighters look very blurry against a very sharp background. If you're just directly comparing it to the previous King of Fighters games, it looks really impressive. But if you're looking at other modern fighting games, it's merely nice. The in-game music is fine, but the default English voices are kind of terrible. Also, there's a real lack of variety there. Hearing Kyo say "how do you like that heat?" after every fight gets tired after around two fights. I ended up switching to the Japanese language track very quickly.

The fighting at the center of King of Fighters XII is totally fine, but with everything surrounding that action coming off so half-cocked, there are a lot of annoying little barriers to enjoying that fighting. If you're planning on playing versus matches against local friends, go right ahead. But everyone else should probably wait a bit for a lower price, another set of online-focused patches, or both. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
58 Comments
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Posted by Seedofpower

Good review, I would have thought Jeff would give this more stars.
Posted by MrMiyagi

That's disappointing.

Posted by Nadril

I'm laughing at everyone who thought Jeff would have blindly given this game 5 stars right now.

Posted by Nettacki

Hmm, maybe the rest of the modes will be available as DLC to pay/download for free?
 
In any case, I'm pretty sure I'm not getting this game until it gets a price drop.

Posted by spazmaster666

Not surprised by the review. After seeing the quicklook, I already had very little interest in this game. BTW, the review has a typo in the final paragraph.

Posted by zhinse

you misspelled 'that' in the last paragraph. :D 
other than that im dissapionted that this game turned out like this. Hopefully XIII will be much better.

Posted by Raven_Sword

Blaze blue shoudl have gotten a 4 out of 5, and this game should have gotten a 3. Blaze Blue is WAAAAAAAY better than this crap.
Posted by Chewii101

Disappointing game. 

Edited by Diagonol

 Agreed fully with this review, I was so excited for this game and the potential roster... but the lack of modes/arcade/story/unlockables/online play/stages. Really bum me out. I love fine tuning my game in fighters if possible, but when a dev team half asses a production even if it doesn't directly affect gameplay. (except the part where some characters have a plethora of special moves and some have 2) it's depressing. I'm let down but still it -is- fun on local multiplayer, just not something I'd rather play over other polished fighters that have come out recently or even the last year.

Edited by Brendan

Wow, I love how Blazblue tools have even commented here as well.  Give it a rest you insufferable fanboys.
Edited by cb1115

I wonder if there's going to be a video review.

Posted by Jeffsekai

I like how this game is BROKEN online and get the same score as Blazblue which works fine. o well.

Posted by spiceninja

I would have given it a lower score.

Posted by Usagi

"The core fighting in King of Fighters XII is really sharp, but everything surrounding it is a little disappointing."
 
That is exactly how I would describe the game.

Posted by JJOR64

This game could have been awesome.  To bad SNK had to fuck it up.

Posted by Death_Burnout

I do find the character models to looke a bit like action figures mixed in with some clay...like it was clay fighter.
 
And...someone still complaining about the BlazBlue review? uhh...wut?

Posted by Mouth

I guess it was a dissapointment.
Posted by Manachild
@Jeffsekai said:
" I like how this game is BROKEN online and get the same score as Blazblue which works fine. o well. "
Yeah and i dont feel like we shoudl be called insufferable fanboys for pointing that out either, its common sense imo.
Posted by Agent_Lost

yep, got that right. The fighting is fine but everything else is broken. 
 Sad, really.

Posted by MagikGimp

A case of too tight a development schedule eh? Let's hope KOF XIII gets back on par now they can reuse those new sprites and spend their time on fixing and adding other things.

Posted by Dolphin_Butter
@MagikGimp: Too tight? They had four years.
Posted by DanielJW
@Manachild said:
" @Jeffsekai said:
" I like how this game is BROKEN online and get the same score as Blazblue which works fine. o well. "
Yeah and i dont feel like we shoudl be called insufferable fanboys for pointing that out either, its common sense imo. "
Hey guess what. They got a three for different reasons. King of Fighters had a stellar core game, but was lacking in online. BlazBlue had an overly flashy and difficult to understand core game, with good online.  
 
You are insufferable fanboys, a three isn't a bad game. Look at the FAQ page where the explain what three stars means. Don't give me that "Oh noes the metacritic scoreee!!!!11" A reviewer shouldn't give a crap about the metacritic score, and  a rating system shouldn't be built around a metacritic score. Giant Bomb isn't built to feed metacritic, it's its own website. Three out of five here means it's a good game, what three out of five on metacritic is, doesn't matter in the slightest.
Posted by Fiveoutafive
@Brendan said:
" Wow, I love how Blazblue tools have even commented here as well.  Give it a rest you insufferable fanboys. "
No way dood! liek, blaze blue is awesome and they scored this shit the same? no way! *sarcasm* 
But yes, I am saddened that this game did not turn out right, I am still playing KoF 11
Online
Posted by 88Fingers

I loved it when I first started playing it.
But then after sitting down, playing it for a while and finding out it was missing so many things
that make a fighting game... a fighting game....
Well, I started to hate it.
The fact that there is no Boss character in this game is ludicrous!
It makes no sense at all.
The whole point of every 2-D fighter besides (multi-player)
is to get really good with each character and then try to beat the Boss.
No story, no boss, no personality, missing a lot of classic characters!
That really should be enough knocks against the game to kick it to the curb  and never play it again...
 
But I find myself still playing it because the actual fighting mechanics are awesome.
 
I sure hope they release some sort of expansion for it... soon.
 
Give us Mai and a Survival Mode...
 
That would make a huge difference in my opinion.

Posted by Jeffsekai
@DanielJW said:
 
Thats kinda rude dont ya think? I was pointing out how a game that works fine at launch got the same score as a broken game...and considering in the first few parahgraphs Jeff says how the only thing KOF12 has going for it is the multiplayer..which aside from local is broken and unplayable, dose that make sense? no...am I a fanboy for questioning these things? no.
Posted by PureRok
@Raven_Sword said:
" Blaze blue shoudl have gotten a 4 out of 5, and this game should have gotten a 3. Blaze Blue is WAAAAAAAY better than this crap. "
Uh, this game did get a 3.
Posted by notsonic
@Raven_Sword said:
" Blaze blue shoudl have gotten a 4 out of 5, and this game should have gotten a 3. Blaze Blue is WAAAAAAAY better than this crap. "

the problem is blazblue is a crap game in a great package. kof xii is a great game in a crap package. they both even out to the same score but it means something completely different.
Posted by DanielJW
@Jeffsekai: BlazBlue worked fine, but obviously Jeff didn't find it fun. The tagline for the review states that the core fighting, what a fighting game is about, is really sharp. Obviously he didn't feel the same way about BlazBlue. The online can be fixed, Battle Field 1943 had incredibly broken online at release, does that make it any less of a game?
Posted by MagusMaleficus

I really enjoy playing this with a friend next to me on the couch, but it's a bummer playing online. If they can get that straightened out, and maybe throw us a few downloadable extras free of charge (they'd have to be out of their fucking minds to piss on their dwindling reputation by charging--especially for features that should be in there anyway), this will be a lovely companion to Street Fighter IV.

Posted by SJSchmidt93

Too many fighting games, imo.

Posted by Zlatko

100% bull crap. Sorry as of today I take Jeff's word on fighting games with a total grain of salt. Blazblue and KoF12 are equal? Come the F' on! Blazblue gives you tons to do offline, no glitches, an insanely diverse and always working online from day one, and tries to fill up content on the disc to the max.
 
KoF12 is broken in every spot. You can do glitches/bugs, there's jack crap to play offline, and the online is broken. It doesn't even have as robust of options to play with when you are online like Blazblue.
 
If anyone is here to defend "Jeff's opinion," go kill yourself. Play both games and tell me they both deserve a 3 out of 5 going by this sites rankings and you know you are kidding yourself. I could understand SF4 and Blazblue tying or Blazblue being slightly less of a score because we KNOW that Jeff tugs Capcoms d*ck when we aren't looking, but to give KoF12 the same crap score to a great game as Blazblue is bull sh*t.
 
Yo jeff they need you back at Gamespot.com you hypocrite. I could tell you one other reason Jeff hated Blazblue... he said in the quick look, "This game doesn't have a guy who throws a fireball/hadoken,"... so that's what it takes for it to be a great fighting game? The same crap shoveled to you over an dover again?
 
This site officially hit a low. I'll just stick to endurance run vids, but after realizing you guys suck at playing even that game what's the point of taking your word on ANYTHING?! Wannabe gamers giving wannabe scores. Giantbomb sucks...

Posted by notsonic
@Zlatko:

nah blazblue is just a bad game. sure it might have lots of content (though id rather see more characters than that stupid story mode) the fighting is bad. its unfun. significantly worse than guilty gear x (same devs) and tvsc (another fighter that does away with traditional punch and kick buttons.) the fighting is unintuitive and unresponsive.

i would rather play a game with great fighting and nothing else than all presentation and fluff with no substance.

Posted by Rmack

I find this review way far more fair than the BlazBlue one. I really agree with Jeff here; good fighting game, shitty video game.

Posted by Chocobo_Blitzer

 I would really appreciate it if Giantbomb just stopped scoring their reviews. I think their hang-and-bro-out review style would benefit from not having this quasi-authoritative  score looming over the text.
 
Yes, I know they've stated in the past that the score was never intended to be the definitive ranking of a game and it's supposed to be vague, but I just don't think it's worked out very well. 
 
Perhaps some kind of Jeff'O meter that gauges his personal stokedness of a game. Maybe that'd get the point across.

Posted by Calidreth
It's a pity that fighting games suck these days.
Posted by Nadril
@Zlatko said:
" 100% bull crap. Sorry as of today I take Jeff's word on fighting games with a total grain of salt. Blazblue and KoF12 are equal? Come the F' on! Blazblue gives you tons to do offline, no glitches, an insanely diverse and always working online from day one, and tries to fill up content on the disc to the max.  KoF12 is broken in every spot. You can do glitches/bugs, there's jack crap to play offline, and the online is broken. It doesn't even have as robust of options to play with when you are online like Blazblue.  If anyone is here to defend "Jeff's opinion," go kill yourself. Play both games and tell me they both deserve a 3 out of 5 going by this sites rankings and you know you are kidding yourself. I could understand SF4 and Blazblue tying or Blazblue being slightly less of a score because we KNOW that Jeff tugs Capcoms d*ck when we aren't looking, but to give KoF12 the same crap score to a great game as Blazblue is bull sh*t.  Yo jeff they need you back at Gamespot.com you hypocrite. I could tell you one other reason Jeff hated Blazblue... he said in the quick look, "This game doesn't have a guy who throws a fireball/hadoken,"... so that's what it takes for it to be a great fighting game? The same crap shoveled to you over an dover again?  This site officially hit a low. I'll just stick to endurance run vids, but after realizing you guys suck at playing even that game what's the point of taking your word on ANYTHING?! Wannabe gamers giving wannabe scores. Giantbomb sucks... "
Chill down there cowboy.
Posted by BagManForHire

disappointing.    

Posted by escapenguin

I'm extremely disappointed.  Seriously, no Mai?  I was really looking forward to a nice port.  Way to fuck it up, SNK!

Posted by Manachild
@DanielJW said:

" @Manachild said:

" @Jeffsekai said:
" I like how this game is BROKEN online and get the same score as Blazblue which works fine. o well. "
Yeah and i dont feel like we shoudl be called insufferable fanboys for pointing that out either, its common sense imo. "
Hey guess what. They got a three for different reasons. King of Fighters had a stellar core game, but was lacking in online. BlazBlue had an overly flashy and difficult to understand core game, with good online.   You are insufferable fanboys, a three isn't a bad game. Look at the FAQ page where the explain what three stars means. Don't give me that "Oh noes the metacritic scoreee!!!!11" A reviewer shouldn't give a crap about the metacritic score, and  a rating system shouldn't be built around a metacritic score. Giant Bomb isn't built to feed metacritic, it's its own website. Three out of five here means it's a good game, what three out of five on metacritic is, doesn't matter in the slightest. "
 I'm glad we could share our opinions, I love the Interent - always bringing us together.  Solid piece of communication, would communicate again, definitely recommended    
Posted by Skyr795
@notsonic said:
" @Zlatko:

nah blazblue is just a bad game. sure it might have lots of content (though id rather see more characters than that stupid story mode) the fighting is bad. its unfun. significantly worse than guilty gear x (same devs) and tvsc (another fighter that does away with traditional punch and kick buttons.) the fighting is unintuitive and unresponsive.

i would rather play a game with great fighting and nothing else than all presentation and fluff with no substance.

"
ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT
Posted by LordAndrew
@Zlatko said:
" 100% bull crap. Sorry as of today I take Jeff's word on fighting games with a total grain of salt. Blazblue and KoF12 are equal?  "
Congratulations. In the first three sentences you've already turned me off of the entire post.
No one said the two were equal. They're totally different games. There are only five possible scores; some games are going to end up with the same score. That doesn't mean that the two are equal. If that's what you think then you forgot to actually read the text of the review.
Posted by LordAndrew
@Skyr795 said:
" @notsonic said:
" @Zlatko:

nah blazblue is just a bad game. sure it might have lots of content (though id rather see more characters than that stupid story mode) the fighting is bad. its unfun. significantly worse than guilty gear x (same devs) and tvsc (another fighter that does away with traditional punch and kick buttons.) the fighting is unintuitive and unresponsive.

i would rather play a game with great fighting and nothing else than all presentation and fluff with no substance.

"
ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT "
What's BS? His opinion?
Of course, if it's just a second-hand opinion like many here like to spew out, I too feel that I must call it BS.
Posted by notsonic
@LordAndrew said:

" @Skyr795 said:

What's BS? His opinion?

Of course, if it's just a second-hand opinion like many here like to spew out, I too feel that I must call it BS. "

?

i own both kof and blazblue. bought both on release.

i think blazblue (much like guilty gear) is not a very good fighter. its not total shit like arcana heart and other doujin games, but its very close. guilty gear is significantly better than blaz blue and i still dont like it.

kof 12 on the other hand has tons of shortcomings, especially when you compare it to games like 98, xi, um. but then again you have to remember that those are basically the 15th iteration of the same game. if they cant get it right by then, and pack in tons of extra fluff, it'd be pretty bad.

kof 12 is a great VS fighting game and nothing else.

Posted by Nettacki
@notsonic:
Can you please explain to us what exactly is wrong with BlazBlue's fighting mechanics? I'm curious.
Posted by Ironknight
@notsonic said:
" @LordAndrew said:

" @Skyr795 said:

What's BS? His opinion?

Of course, if it's just a second-hand opinion like many here like to spew out, I too feel that I must call it BS. "

?

i own both kof and blazblue. bought both on release.

i think blazblue (much like guilty gear) is not a very good fighter. its not total shit like arcana heart and other doujin games, but its very close. guilty gear is significantly better than blaz blue and i still dont like it.

kof 12 on the other hand has tons of shortcomings, especially when you compare it to games like 98, xi, um. but then again you have to remember that those are basically the 15th iteration of the same game. if they cant get it right by then, and pack in tons of extra fluff, it'd be pretty bad.

kof 12 is a great VS fighting game and nothing else.

"
I don't think you can say Blaz Blue or guilty gear are bad fighters with out anything to back it up. You might not like it but don't say its not a good fighter, Jeff didn''t like  Blazblue's core fighting be even he said there wasn't anything wrong it just wasn't his type of game or style remember anime is for losers so that's were the 3/5 came from. But with KOF he already knows the series so  getting into it  was very easy and he already liked the core combat so all they had todo was deliver on the content and the online but they failed to do so  so both of the get a 3/5
Posted by Linkyshinks

Lame.

Posted by LightGaia

*Facepalm* SNK, we're not stupid. Actually try next time. -_-
Posted by notsonic
@Ironknight:

i feel like in bb, and to a lesser extent, gg, that there is a disconnect between what you do and what your character does. the game plays and feels very unintuitive. i also dont like the 1 2 3 special button scheme. hated it in tvsc too. and even though the sprites are about double the res of kof, they dont look good or animate very well. theyre like the rejected character designs of gg which itself had some pretty meh designs. not to mention theres only what 12? the bg's are nice though.

kof is the complete opposite. all the different jumps, quick normals, you really feel in control and its all very intuitive. even moreso than street fighter which doesnt give you the same mobility options.

Posted by mooncake
@notsonic said:
"@Ironknight:

theyre like the rejected character designs of gg which itself had some pretty meh designs. not to mention theres only what 12?

"

hmmm if you're talking about character designs then guilty gear has the most flatout insane character designs of any mainstream fighting game... thats why it borders on niche. if you're saying kyo looks less meh than sol then i think you need to reevaluate what you mean by design. kyo looks more realistic, which is probably more your cup of tea. and character design extends to their abilities and their entire character too. with 12 really unique characters, their designs are top notch for sure.  
 
and you know, it all comes down to what game Jeff would play. He'd definitely play King of Fighters over Blazblue, so to give both a similar "it's an alright game score" means he actually respects Blazblue for what it is. or... as most people are saying here, it's not a comparison. but anyways, more food for thought.
Posted by Gahzoo
@Brendan said:
" Wow, I love how Blazblue tools have even commented here as well.  Give it a rest you insufferable fanboys. "
Well honestly its not fair when the review comes down to preference of fighting mechanics, this game has almost no features, and even the online play is bad due to terrible netcode, BlazBlue has some of the best online multiplayer for a fighting game to date, not really any lag, it also has enough features to keep you happy and spending time while not playing online. Not even in the same league.I would say 2.5-3 stars is appropriate for this game.
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