King of Fighters XIII

Reviewed by Evan Wilson, Posted on 2012-01-14


Developer: SNK Playmore Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: November 22, 2011 Available On: PS3 & Xbox 360

Before I say anything about King of Fighters XIII, I must let you know that this review is coming from an avid Street Fighter player. I had never spent more than five minutes with a game in the franchise before King of Fighters XIII. I am happy to inform that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game. The system is simple yet complex enough for seasoned fighting game players and the 2D sprite animations really bring back a feeling of nostalgia unmatched by other current-gen fighters. Does this brawler match up to the plethora of competing games on the market?

King of Fighters XIII stands the test of time better than I thought it would. If you have ever played a fighting game before you should be able to jump right in, start beating people up and have a blast while doing it. The same concept applies to most characters as Street Fighter: move the directional stick/pad in a combination of ways and press a corresponding button and do a special attack. In fact, I found about five fighters that play just like the Shoto-style players from Street Fighter (Ken, Ryu, Akuma, Sakura, etc.), so getting used to playing with those characters was an easy transition. They also have EX moves and even a super powerful attack once you build enough meter to really take your opponent’s health down. King of Fighters XIII has a fighter for just about every style of player. I was actually blown away by the level of depth some of the characters had when it came to learning even the most basic combos.

Though it is a pretty accessible game at first, it becomes more and more obvious that this fighter is not for simple button mashers. While a masher can still have fun with the game, the player that takes the time to develop strategies and combos will ultimately prevail and have the most fun. Figuring out strategies is part of the fun because the characters are so balanced. I have not been able to find any glaring overpowered characters in the main roster.

However, one thing SNK stood by was the horrifyingly difficult boss battles of previous titles. I have never felt so helpless against a boss in any game, as they seem to employ the cheapest tactics available. SNK did give players a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, as you're allowed to select a "Continue Service" at the Game Over screen. This allows you to employ one of three different bonuses to apply to the first round of your next fight. While selecting one of these will forfeit your ability to unlock a version of the boss as a playable character, they will give you a chance at a very satisfying revenge. One of the bonuses is a 75 percent health hit to your opponent for the next round, and as you can imagine, this puts a vengeful smirk on the player’s face when seeing the boss crumple to the ground after a few hits.

King of Fighters XIII boasts a nice amount of game modes including Classic Arcade, Story, Tutorial, Versus and PSN/Xbox Live play. Arcade mode pits your team of three brawlers against a number of other 3-person teams and ends with a boss fight. The Story mode is a little more complex; it lets you pick how the story develops and what teams you play with rather than pick your own mix of fighters. My problem with this mode is the story itself makes very little sense. The Tutorial mode allows you to learn both the basics and the intricacies to the KOF system and does a better job than most other fighters out there. The Versus mode is standard fare allowing for local players to duke it out in either 3 versus 3 or 1 versus 1 combat.

There is one glaring problem with this game and it's a big problem: the online play. In this day and age in the video gaming world, a sub-par online experience is just short of a death sentence for the game. The online play for King of Fighters XIII is just barely functional at best. I tried the game on both systems and it was the same result regardless of the platform. While not necessarily laggy in the traditional sense, there is always mild to severe input lag. I played with a friend on Xbox Live that I had a great connection with on other games and we both experienced a very noticeable amount of input lag. This is a deal-breaker for a lot of fighting game players, but I will say that the game is still fun enough to put up with the bit of lag. Once you play for long enough, you can start getting used to it, but it'll rear its head more than a few times in a long play session.

Even though you may be spoiled with the flashy 3D graphics of other current fighting games, I have to say that I find an appeal to the 2D sprites and backgrounds. When I brought out my fight stick, I felt like I needed a roll of quarters every time I pressed start. The game looks fantastic in HD, boasting vibrant colors and awesome backgrounds. There are some not-so-hidden easter eggs in some of the stages and these change with each round. For the King of Fighters veterans, Rugal and his children put in an appearance with their pet panther on one of the stages. SNK also added a color customization option for the different fighters so players can really make their favorite characters their own. Since I'm a big Guile fan in Street Fighter, I made all of my favorite King of Fighters characters sport camouflage clothes and blonde hair. This is a cool feature I'd like to see in a lot more games.

All things considered, King of Fighters XIII is worth the $50 price tag. They sticks to their roots while adding certain mechanics to keep it modern and relevant. The online problems, while annoying, don't take away too much from the game and the story could be a bit more interesting as well. Aside from that, this title is very strong and shows just why the King of Fighters franchise has been around as long as it has. If you haven't played King of Fighters before, like me, then I highly suggest you pick this game up and give it more than an hour before giving up. If you're a King of Fighters veteran, chances are you have already picked the title up and agree with me. All fighting game fans need to have King of Fighters XIII in their collection or at least give it more than a passing glance.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8 out of 10
Written by Evan Wilson Write a User Review

Reviewed by Evan Wilson