I have been waiting for years for a company to make a great new fighter with fully hand-drawn 2D visuals, and finally here it is. Unfortunately, its a bit of a mixed bag.First off, the visuals. While the gameplay in fighting games has aged fantastically for many of the great fighters (KOF 98, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Garou Mark of the Wolves), the visuals haven't so much. KOF XII has a heaping of gorgeous looking hand-drawn sprites. With, in my opinion, some equally excellent art direction, the characters have classy and varied styles, which vary from bulky almost Gears of war style bulk, to incredibly slender and lanky. Also, for a nice change, the woman, while still looking sexy, are portrayed in a classy repectful manner. This one disappointment here trhough, is that the sprites still come off as quite pixelated. Especially when zoomed in, the sprites come off as sub-HD.The backgrounds on the other hand, while equally as gorgous, are also full HD, smooth looking, and packed to the brim with detail. Easily the most gorgous and detailed backgrounds, even in a 2D fighter, with an insane amount of animated people in the background. Unfortunately, there are only 6 different stages, 2 of which are day/ night versions of the same area. Luckily, both are different enough to both still be great.Gameplay-wise, the fighting feels tight, balanced and very well orchestrated. The amount of special attacks, and super moves have been toned down, to the detriment of a few characters, but overall this isn't a huge issue, and is actually welcomed for newcomers to the series. The moves themselves however are great, often quite flashly looking, and generally seem very well implemented and useful. The general pace of the fighting is slowed-down, which I personally like, and the moves have a nice powerful feel to them.On the down-side the game is simply anemic. For single player, there are only three mildly different difficulty settings, and the 5 match boss-less time trial based arcade mode, the sole single player mode aside from practice and versus (vs CPU or player) was a big disappointment when I played it in the arcade, due to its brevety, andthe fact that nothing has been added here feels almost like an insult, when considering the price of the game.On the other hand, there is a decent online mode. While apparently plauged with bugs pre-patch, my post-patch experieces have been quite good. Matches vs red-bar opponents have been ridiculously slow (like playing in molasses) as expected, but matches vs. blue bar opponents have been quite smooth, and very playable. Online also has 8-player arcade-style rotating fight player lobbies, and an interesting 6-player (one player per character) online mode, as well as online ranking systems, and a nice replay save and share feature. Unfortuanately apparently lobby room matches can quickly become lag-fests once a red-bar player enters a room.In the end, solid fighting engine, gorgous but disappointingly pixelated character sprites, gorgous backgrounds that are limited i n number, a very disappointing single-player mode, and a mediocre online mode. There are 22 characters, which is a solid number in my opinion (SF4 has 24, but Blazblue has 12), and the game is incredibly fun, but I'd have a hard time recommending this at full price. I'd suggest waiting till it drops to **-** bucks, unless you are a big fighting game fan, then I'd suggest picking it up.
yes: I recommend this product