The King of Fighters XIII Review

The King of Fighters XIII (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: SNK Playmore
Release Date: November 22, 2011
PSN/Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates The King of Fighters XIII T for teen because of mild language, suggestive themes, alcohol use, and violence.  We don’t disagree with that, but children have been playing KoF for over a decade in arcades. Take that for what it’s worth.

Plays Like: Street Fighter, BlazBlue, and Guilty Gear.

Review Basis: Atlus sent us a pre-release copy for Xbox 360.  Cleared the arcade and story modes; played a ton of online matches.  Also tried the many offline modes.

Disclaimer: Choose your version wisely.  If you own an arcade stick, it won’t matter, but the D-pad for Xbox 360 users will be a frustration. It makes Drive cancels all but impossible.

The King of Fighters returns in tip-top form after XII’s disappointing outing two years ago.  SNK Playmore has refined the fighting system, increased the roster, improved online battle, and delivered enough content to keep fighter fans happy for months. The King has finally returned.

The Great:

The arcade and story modes finish the Ash Crimson story, started in KoF 2003. Training is available in tutorial, time attack, survival and trial. Once you’re learned and have experienced the somewhat convoluted plot, it’s time for multiplayer. You can select the traditional offline versus, or competitive online multiplayer.  These options combine for one of the best fighting packages on the market.

The Good:

+ Classic KoF combat.  For the uninitiated, players select three characters and battle another three, one character per round.  Unlike other team-based fighters, KoF doesn’t allow you to tag team.  This forces you to learn each character’s merits.

+ Teams. Put together your own team for Arcade mode, but Story forces you to fight with pre-determined groups. There’s a Fatal Fury team, a women’s trio, Art of Fighting group, etc.  This limitation was imposed to flesh out the characters that naturally fit for the story.

+ A huge roster. The King of Fighters brings personalities from many SNK series like The Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, and even non-fighters like Ikari Warriors.  Characters are unique; don’t expect clones.

+ EX Special, Neo Max moves and Drive cancels amount to a quicker, more technical fighter. You can now cancel one special for another with Hyperdrive. Neo Max, the most powerful moves in the game, are used by stocking the Power gauge or in combination with Hyperdrive.  It all requires perfect timing and much practice.

+ A great place to start.  Thanks to the training modes, KoF XIII is more accessible to newbies than any of the previous entries.  Have patience, practice, and don’t let online defeats dull your confidence.

+ Customization options. There are thousands of color combinations for characters. Online loadouts can be adjusted so your favorite teams are already ready with their funky colors, and a unique slogan for your profile if you want one.

+ Target actions.  While playing Arcade and Story, small prompts appear on the screen challenging you to perform certain tasks like Neo Max super special moves, etc.  These incentivize players to perform some of the more complex skills.

+ One of, if not the most beautiful 2D fighter.  The backgrounds drip with quality and the animations are superb.  Breathtaking.

+ Rocking music.  Sadly Story mode features no voice acting, but those who pre-ordered will be blown away by the excellent 4-CD OST Atlus packed with the game. It’s a collection of tunes across the KoF series.  Great stuff!

The So-So:

+/- Hard to follow for newcomers. While I appreciate the plot, a more detailed explanation of what happened before would be nice. Veterans will enjoy the conclusions.

+/- Superior online play to XII. I played at least twenty matches, getting my butt handed to me in about all of them.  I experienced input lag during a couple matches, with one dropping completely.  Once the traffic increases though, these problems are likely to increase.

The Bad:

– Saiki is a mother$%&^#*!!!  I played fighters all the time, but bosses like Saiki forced me out. Talk about cheap!  When you reach this jerk. you’ll understand why.  His inclusion is the worst aspect of KoF XIII.

The Ugly:

Watching Jarrod play online and be beaten time and time again, only to discover the person continually destroying him is a six-year-old girl.  Humiliation doesn’t begin to describe it.

The Lowdown:

The King of Fighters XIII is a sensational fighter that feels new. In a generation where the genre has seen incremental improvements with ongoing high prices, SNK Playmore delivers a next-gen King of Fighters. If the online play holds, and you can forgive one of the cheesiest bosses ever, KoF XIII should easily usher in a new SNK era. The modes offered and tight fighting system will keep this in your system for a long time.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Vast wealth of gameplay modes, greatly improved multiplayer, and much tighter and quicker combat.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Cheesiest boss character in years.  Network code may not stand the traffic at release.

3 thoughts on “The King of Fighters XIII Review”

  1. Yeah this is a truly great fighting series that far too few people have played. I mean this is part 13, meaning it must be doing someone right for it to have lasted this long. Most people look to Capcom as the defacto leader of fighters, but truth be told SNK has been in this genre since before Capcom.

    I’m very glad to report this is likely the best fighter released this year, and one everyone should pick up. It’s highly technical, fast paced and offers tons of content for a reduced price. It’s the real deal!

  2. I cannot wait to get this game, it looks like so much fun! I’m not too well acquainted with the King of Fighters series outside of a few games, but I’d like to get more into it. I only have ’94, Mark of the Wolves, Capcom vs. SNK 1 and 2, and a few others. I’d like to go back and get more into KOF fighters, and this looks like one of the best of the bunch. I’m a longtime Street Fighter fan and will always love the series, though I can definitely respect what SNK has done and continues to do.

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