Every inch the retro fighter, King Of Fighters XII is designed with a combination of retro techniques and next-gen Playstation 3 technology; the game's sprites have each been individually drawn and animated, brimming with style and life via an HD setup.
The King Fighters XII incorporates scant content for the single player; a simple 10 minute time-attack mode the only real draw. However, solid multiplayer serves as a means for fleshing out the package.
The King Of Fighters XII is a very simple game to pick up and play. With just four attack buttons (two mapped to punch and two to kick), retro 2D gameplay and familiar "special" commands, it's all very easy to get into. Like all good fighting games though, it's difficult to master. There are combo and defence meters to learn and subsequently you'll need plenty of practice to compete with some of the best online, which is where a lot of The King Of Fighters XII's meat lies.
There's no denying The King Of Fighters XII looks fantastic. Character sprites are chunky, well designed and thoughtfully animated, fluidly switching between their move set. It's a real sight to behold in motion - reminding you just how far games could have come in 2D if the jump into the third dimension hadn't been made. The backgrounds are also fascinating, using a mixture of bright colours and over-the-top animation. We suppose you could argue there are too few backdrops, however.
With the bulk of King Of Fighters XII's single-player so lacking, the online multiplayer had to be pretty fun — and it is. Packed with clans, lobby systems, "winner stays on" game types and solid netcode; those interested in playing online will get the bulk of their enjoyment from KoFXII in this section. Of course, if you don't have Playstation Network, we recommend getting in touch with a buddy and making sure he's constantly on hand for local multiplayer.
A five round arcade mode and some training is what you get if you buy KoFXII and don't intend to play with anyone else. Seriously, that's it. There's fun to be had in those modes - the gameplay is very enjoyable - but with no hint of any bosses or alternatives to keep the experience feeling fresh, you'll tire quickly. The online and local multiplayer options are on hand to save the experience, but we still expected more. The 22 character roster is also poorly represented by too few backgrounds. Disappointing. Hey, at least you can save replays though right? Right!?
Our load complaint became much of a moot point after we noticed the "Install" option hidden deep within the game's menu, but alas, be warned that failing to find that will result in immersion breaking loading sequences.
The King Of Fighters XII has a delicious exterior compounded by some excellent gameplay mechanics. It's the gooey core that's the problem, a bitter reminder of why less is not always more.