So, King of Fighters XII.
A lot has been said about the quality of the graphical makeover – I\’ll say that based on the 720p screenshots and videos I\’ve seen, I do like it a lot. It leaves just about everything else SNK has ever done in the dust; my only gripe is that Kyo\’s flame effects still look pretty bad, particularly the ones for his uppercut and DM. You\’d think they\’d have noticed that by now.
In any case, while I do like the look of the game so far, I have less confident things to say about how the game seems to play at this point.
The clash/offset system seems to be an attempt at introducing something akin to parries into KOF. You cause a clash by performing an attack just as the opponent\’s attack is about to hit you. In the process both sides take some damage and do an automatic backstep (or a backwards jump if one party is in midair). However both characters can also cancel the backstep animation into anything they want – a jump, a run or even another attack.
In its current form there\’s clearly some risk involved with clashing – you take some damage in exchange for the chance to mount a counterattack. Unlike parries, however, a clash also resets the opponent to a neutral state, so at best you end up going from a disadvantageous position to a neutral position – high risk for a somewhat nebulous reward. On top of that you can apparently clash with fireballs, and there are already a few videos out there that show people stopping uppercuts by clashing with a jump attack (although given the backhop that results from a successful clash this might actually be a disadvantage for the player in the air). It\’s definitely a major change, and I\’m kind of nervous that it\’ll end up breaking the game in some way.
I\’m also concerned that the builds shown so far seem to lack super flashes. Just about all the DMs I\’ve seen have ridiculously long startup, making them impossible to combo from anything. Since the game we\’ve seen so far is so incomplete as to lack a power meter and a hit counter, and even one of the main subsystems (Critical Counter), my assumption is that DM flashes will be added in later, but given the \’retro\’ tone they\’re trying to go for I have my doubts.
Speaking of said tone – I can\’t say I\’m a fan of it. Regressing in terms of looks is one thing, but some characters seem to have regressed in terms of movesets as well, which is…troubling. The most affected one seems to be Kyo, who\’s basically gone back to his KOF\’95 version. There are some glowing exceptions – Ralf and Iori seem to have gotten complete movelist makeovers, but characters like Terry apparently only have one DM, and Shen Woo seems to have lost some moves as well. On top of that characters like Andy seem to channel their original Fatal Fury 2 incarnations rather than any recent KOF version. And needless to say, I\’m still puzzled at their decision to drop the successful system they had developed for KOF XI to start from a blank slate.
I think we\’ll only start to get a real sense for where KOF XII will be in terms of mechanical soundness when the game is complete and ready for beta testing. The game is slated for an April 2009 release in arcades, so that should be pretty soon.