Published on August 4th, 2012 | by Dembonez190
Review: The King of Fighters XIII
Developer: SNK Playmore
System(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Attempting to follow the story of a fighting game to me is about as understandable as knowing what goes on in the mind of a cat. However, I do know that Ash Crimson is planning to absorb Kyo Kusanagi’s power to go along with the already absorbed powers of Iori Yagami and Chizuru Kagura. Thus the King of Fighters tournament begins once more and is sponsored by the beautiful Rose Bernstein. It is here where Ash plans to meet Kyo Kusanagi and steal his powers for himself. This at least explains why Iori Yagami is flameless in this game, although players do have the ability to download Flames Iori along with NESTS Kyo and Mr. Karate. Some pretty cool stages and background music come along with them too.
While the story may not be the biggest draw for some players in The King of Fighters XIII, it is important to note that the story is what keeps The King of Fighters series going to an extent. It works in sagas, and these sagas run the sequels to each game which would explain why some characters disappear after some time including my favorite: Shermie. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these old favorite characters return (there have been MANY), but they obviously have to match up with the story in order to make any sense.
No one can truly complain about the selection of characters in the roster. In spite of some of my favorite characters not being included to this (Shermie and Whip), the variety of characters and fighting styles trump my wishes and actually allow me to try new characters that I never thought I would enjoy using so much.
There were a few complaints with the roster in The King of Fighters XII. I’m not going to lie, I also did not care for the lack of characters in that roster. However, SNK Playmore heard everyone’s cries and improved the roster tenfold. Just look at that selection!
Now just like in every fighting game, there are various modes you can choose to play that allow you to train with your favorite characters and actually use them. The King of Fighters XIII follows the old KOF team tradition meaning that you will need to at least be somewhat decent in the game with three different characters. This is a great motivation to want to try new characters that may not have been interesting before. Especially after the revamps of moves and flashiness of the characters themselves, it’s much more tempting to try each of them out. Granted, I’m the type of guy that doesn’t enjoy choosing the more popular characters. However, after watching footage of people playing online and in tournaments, it has become apparent that The King of Fighters XIII is actually pretty well-balanced. There are professional players of the game that can pull off some mean combos with some of the more obscure characters, and that is what I like to see.
My only negative about the game modes is that online is unfortunately lacking. Players are forced to be pros of the game if they wish to play online. This statement is a strong one, but I would never say something like this unless I could back myself up. Playing online, I found myself running into people with extremely higher levels of skill than myself much more consistently than I ran across people who matched my own skill. This was frustrating because I felt that I could not improve if the only people I made connections with had a 300 to 2 win/loss record to my 10 to 40. If this seems like an over-exaggeration, it isn’t. Even with the Novice/Expert settings changed to fit my liking, I had difficulty finding people that were on my level. It was even more difficult to find someone one my level that was also lagless.
There are Tutorial and Trial Modes that allow players to practice up, but some of the more advanced trials are extremely difficult to pull off even after a few tries. It is tough to take this lack of skill online and face people who have mastered everything there is to know about specific characters times three. That said, some characters are way more user-friendly than others, and it could explain why Terry and Kyo are so common beyond their general popularity.
Fine. I’ll shut up about my only negative, but this brings me to the next point: the dialogue! The dialogue in this game is cheesy for the most part but funny. The win quotes and dialogue between characters is so diverse. Every single character has something that they say before and after fighting someone else, including their clones! I haven’t gone through all of them, but it would be interesting to be able to read them.
This ties into the whole story aspect too because in some fighting games, you don’t really get the sense that any of the fighters actually know each other. Their only commonality is that they are taking part in a tournament, but this dialogue adds that the fighters at least know something about each other that allows them to talk smack. If you need another way to bring your favorite characters together, it’s the Customization Mode!
This is a cool addition to the game that seems to be an up-and-coming trend with fighting games. Customization doesn’t allow you to change what costume the characters wear, but it opens up a palette with different colors you can select for your characters. The more a specific character is used, the more colors are unlocked. There is DLC that lets players download the colors for all of the characters automatically, but I feel that would be pointless for characters you don’t particularly like. Besides, if you use the same trio over and over, the colors will be unlocked for them all quickly! This is a great way to add some uniformity to your teams.
Finally, there is the gameplay itself. I’ve mentioned flashiness and training, but putting it to the test of battle is the most important factor. The special moves for each character are pretty standard in that they aren’t overly complicated. This is great since fighting games require so much memorization. There is a basic light, medium, hard attack scheme with the standard attacks as well with a few alterations between characters that may do something special if a direction is pressed along with a standard move.
Pulling off the fancy combos used by the pros is actually really difficult to do, in my opinion. The timing must be spot on, and with any lag online, this is more difficult to pull off as opposed to fighting games where a larger span of time is allowed to pull off something sweet or at least make up for a missed attack. The good thing about the combos in The King of Fighters XIII is that damage scaling exists, and infinites are impossible as far as I know, even with Hyper Drive Mode.
Hyper Drive Mode is a mode that opens characters up to even more combo possibilities, however without proper practice with Hyper Drive, it would be difficult for anyone to utilize it properly. Personally, I haven’t seen too many people use it in an online setting. Even with the ability to perform new combos, the timing still has to be just right to pull them off. If someone can use HD Mode well, then the damage one can do is almost limitless, especially with Max Cancels that go into moves stronger than those of typical Supers.
+ Huge roster
+ Color customizations
+ Team aspect encourages mastering different characters
– Bad matchmaking online
– Extremely difficult trials
– Picky combo system
Final score: 3.5 out of 5