Hit me with your best shot
I remember playing Street Fighter in the arcades and pushing coin after coin into that game, then I remember the first King of Fighters game and it all comes flooding back under the weight of gaming years. Now weíre onto the 12th instalment of the game and whilst it has some new gameplay mechanics it feels in some ways a bit of a step back from previous KoF as well as a step forwards.Gameplay
Thereís no story mode or lavish cut scenes here, thereís a feeling that itís been stripped out to provide a return to the Good Old Days of simplicity. There are new game mechanics that have been added, borrowing somewhat from Street Fighter. You have a Super Meter that builds from you taking damage, once itís full you can let rip with your Super Move. Thereís no Desperation this time around though, thatís gone, so you canít just whack out a Super Move when youíre low on health, ad-infinitum.
Thereís a Deadlock feature now where both characters get shoved away if they connect at the same time with a blow. Thereís the guard attack from Street Fighter, where your attack absorbs damage before it triggers and something called Critical Counter. Once you get a Crit Counter bar at full you get the chance to do a hard or fierce counter at the right time, get it right and youíll drop your opponent into a Stun Status where youíre free to punish them with a customised combination of attacks.
The new features work pretty well and there are no real glitches. The CC system gives you a damaging set of combos that might seem way too powerful at first, but like UFCís flash knockouts, this means you can turn a fight around in an instant. Guard attacks can be used to defend against other moves, sucking the damage down to nothing and getting the hit to land regardless. Deadlock is useful to dash in and punish your opponent as they reel from the knockback.
The way that the hunter can turn into the hunted in the game adds a nice psychology to the battles, always making the player aware that the tide can change at any time putting you on the defensive in an instant or allowing you to cripple your opponentís defences and make you the victor. The gameís controls do have a bit of a steep learning curve to them and they can punish mistakes early on, once youíve mastered the moves though youíll be free to dominate the arenas without too much trouble.
Thereís a sense of speed to the KoF XII game that isnít quite as frenetic as some of the other games, but itís still lightning fast and pretty smooth. There are only 22 characters to play with compared to other KoF games and some of these are cut-down from their earlier incarnations, lacking in Super Moves or offensive options. The balance seems a bit skewed in some places but itís nothing that you canít work around.
As stated before previously, thereís no Story Mode, just an Arcade Mode that pits a team of 3 fighters (no tag ins are in this game) to fight in the order you choose on 5 stages against other teams of fighters, no boss battles are present and thereís some slight narration from news reporters and so on that serves as a bit of story (very thin on the ground). The Arcade Mode really feels like a time trial though.
Thereís versus mode and of course online, but weíll come to that a little later.