The King of Fighters XII - 360 - Preview

The King of Fighters franchise has been a stalwart in SNK’s storied fighting canon, taking a mix of new and old characters from other fighting franchises and throwing them together in a battle royale. The next entry in the series will be the first new one to hit the Xbox 360, and benefits from a ground-up development approach, featuring some gorgeous 2D hand-drawn characters, fantastic animation and deep and engaging combat. For hardcore fans of the series, this should be one to check out.

King of Fighters XII takes a variety of fan favorite characters, like Terry Bogard, Joe Higashi and Iori Yagami, and adds two new console-exclusives, Mature and Elisabeth. The new characters have brand new move sets and bring their own new elements to the table.

The game’s arcade mode is the 3-on-3 combat that the series has been known for, working like an elimination-style tournament. You begin by selecting three different characters before you start, choosing what order they go in. The matches are fought one on one until one character is eliminated, and the winning character begins the fight with the next opponent. The catch is that the winner only regenerates a small amount of health before the next match, putting them at a slight disadvantage when fighting the next enemy. This continues until all three members of one team are taken down.

The game also boasts a pretty deep counter system. While there are the standard counters that you can perform, KoF XII introduces Critical Counters, which function like a cross between a super-special move and a counter. In order to perform one, you must first fill up your Critical Counter gauge, and then when you execute it you’ll not only counter your opponent’s attack, but also unleash an unblockable combo on them.

The game’s environments are simply gorgeous; they are bright and colorful and each features tons of details. While some may see this as a bit distracting, you can’t help but be impressed by the amount of effort that went into bringing each area to life.

The character models are also great, featuring some truly awesome animations and some cool designs. Even though they lack the crispness of other Xbox 360 fighters like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (they have a fair amount of pixilation to them and feel somewhat juxtaposed over the environments), they still look quite good and fans won’t be disappointed with their transition to HD.

King of Fighters XII on Xbox 360 will also support some robust multiplayer features, including TrueSkill leaderboards. All in all, KoF XII is a deep and complex entry to the series, and one that fans won’t be disappointed in. Look for it to launch this July.

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