King of Fighters XII
Xbox 360, PS3
Arcade fighting games are a culture with intricate customs. Plop down your quarter to signify your place in line, and when your time comes, the sizing-up begins. You'll pick your character, and then a quick pre-fight comment, either about the characters chosen for battle, or the ultimate lie, "I'm not very good." (In fact, when you hear those words, you know you're playing a top-tier fighter.) With pleasantries exchanged, you're off and battling. Alas, the arcade is long gone, and most fighting pros meet up and play at home. For those proud few, SNK has brought you King of Fighters XII.
The latest King tournament has gotten a major facelift, with new graphics and animations. Unfortunately new art means fewer characters, including fan faves (Ninja bouncing-boob girl Mai?) gone missing. New players will feel comfortable jumping in and trading blows, as all characters handle fluidly, though series vets will question some moveset choices. Also, the audio is mainly unchanged, with the Japanese voice cast doing both Japanese and English translations, leading to some unintentional laughs, such as obviously American characters sounding quite Japanese in move pronunciation.
Downside: The one-player experience is quite anemic. There is absolutely no storyline, nor is there a cheap-as-hell final boss character to defeat (SNK fighting games are known for their almost unfair final bosses). King of Fighters XII was definitely made with home multiplayers in mind. A fatal flaw is the ridiculously lag-heavy online fighting option. Hopefully this issue gets fixed soon, because it's nearly unplayable otherwise.
With new visuals, and solid fighting mechanics, KOF provides a good experience for a group of the old arcade game rats.