Several years ago at a noisy arcade at the top of MBK, Bangkok, I bear witness to my colleague blazing through the entire game of King of Fighters in a single sitting with no continues. As I was picking up my jaw from the floor due to that spectacle, I realised that even though KoF wasn’t as visceral as Mortal Kombat, it was brutal AND fast.
I was pretty much impressed by the gameplay and , it was really enjoyable watching the AI or other human players getting their ass handed to them by an expert player. Ahh, those were the days.
The recent release of The King of Fighters XII was supposed to mark the rebirth of the series in HD, but I personally find the entire experience to be rather wanting.
But first things first, the good points. Graphics wise, the game looks really pretty and both characters and backgrounds are really well animated. The stages featuring the marketplace and the French women were done so well, they were actually quite distracting to play in.
The single player and two player vs. mode featured an option to use a simple control mode which allowed newbies like my brother and I to simply jump in and enjoy beating the heck out of each other. But then again, there were the pretty glaring bad points.
While almost every single beat-em-up from Mortal Kombat to Street Fighter would feature a main single player mode that would have the player fight against various characters in the roster before ending up in a boss fight.
KOF XII would have none of this and instead features a time-trial of sorts, where players would be timed through 5 rounds of fighting and if you are not happy with the time for a particular round, you can replay that round once.
The inclusion of this feature may be due to the lack of a storyline in KOF XII, but for casual players, a traditional single player mode would be better and it isn’t hard to implement anyways, so why the drop SNK?
Next up, the online mode is probably the worst thing you would experience in a fighting game both before and after patching the game. The patch itself is actually the entire installation of the game and it’s 772 MB in size. Online mode is pretty much a slideshow out there and if you want a frame by frame study on how moves are launched, here’s the place to be.
I once placed a 30 hit counter on an opponent and that took more than 10 seconds to resolve, almost 20 in fact.
Even though I like certain aspects of the game (it’s a beauty no doubt about that), it’s disappointing that SNK Playmore did not get it right out of the box. With a quintessential single player mode missing, crappy online play and reports from veteran players that certain characters were nerfed, it’s gonna be a pretty hard sell to King of Fighters fans out there.
At most it’s better to adopt a wait and see approach on whether SNK is going to release even more patches to address these issues and for the sake of the fans, I really hope they do.
But if you are eager to try out the game, KOF XII is available now at Play-Asia. Check out the Xbox 360 version here, as well as the PS3 version here.