KOF XII uses the usual 3-on-3 team system with each fight consisting of up to five rounds. However, the Tactical Shift System from The King of Fighters 2003 has been removed. KOF XII also introduces the "critical counter" system. During a match, a bar beneath the player's vitality will fill. When it is full and a player lands a close strong punch as a counter, the character enters into a critical counter mode where the player has a short amount of time wherein their character can link multiple attacks together. Once the critical counter's time period has expired the player can finish with a special move. The new "Guard Attack" feature allows a fighter to intercept and hit an incoming opponent's strike damage free (even Desperation Moves can be repelled in this fashion).