Game: King of Fighters XIII
System: XBOX 360
Review By: Illmatic
The King of Fighters franchise is back in action with its 13th iteration. Loyal fans and newcomers alike have poured hours and hours into the series, perfecting their fighting skills and ruling the online leaderboards. King of Fighters XIII brings a few new features to the series, while at the same time retaining everything we know and love about the franchise. New features, updated character rosters – will this be enough to make old school fans proud, or will it leave them yearning for more?
Story: King of Fighters XIII takes place directly after the events in King of Fighters XI. If you’re wondering why the story skips from XI to XIII, it is because XII does not have a storyline. XIII finishes off the Ash Crimson storyline and is also the third and final story arc that started in King of Fighters ’03. Ash Crimson is a teenage fighter who first appeared in King of Fighters ’03. Ash’s main goal and reason for entering the King of Fighters tournament is to absorb the powers from three of the fighters who hold “The Three Sacred Treasures.” Two fighters down, Ash has only one more fighter’s power to absorb, Kyo Kusanagi. During Ash’s conquest to absorb this power, fighters from the King of Fighters universe have been receiving a mysterious invitation to a tournament hosted by a person known only as “R”. It is now up to you to compete in this tournament, and hopefully be crowned “The King of Fighters!” To avoid spoilers, I won’t give away anymore of the story. I do, however, have to mention that I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. SNK is known for having great arcade fighting games, and now they will be known for having great story lines that truly draw you into the action with real nail biting suspense.
Gameplay: Like all King of Fighters games in the series, this game plays incredibly well. There have been a few adjustments and improvements from prior installments. The Guard Attack system, Critical Counter system, Clash System and the dynamic zooming camera have all been removed from this installment. This is not necessarily a bad thing for I personally didn’t like the “Clash System”. There are some new features in lieu of the removed features. One of the more unique is the EX Mode. EX Mode basically converts each character’s super moves into even more powerful moves. This allows the player to form EX Special Moves and EX Desperation Moves. The second new feature is Hyper Drive mode, which allows the player to use an unlimited amount of Hyper Drive cancels once the Hyper Drive meter has been maxed. The last new addition is Drive Cancels. Drive Cancels allow the player to cancel one special move and convert it into another. The game uses a 3 vs 3 game format, but unlike Marvel vs Capcom’s format, characters cannot switch between other characters during the fight. After a character has been exhausted, the match ends and the second or third character steps up to the plate.
Graphics: King of Fighters XIII looks simply amazing. The finely detailed 2D characters complement the beautifully rendered backgrounds perfectly. The scenery is done so well that I found myself starting practice matches in all of the different levels just so I could thoroughly inspect each and every background. Character animations are also a sight to see. SNK has always been pretty good at delivering high quality fighting games that look amazing, and they certainly don’t disappoint this time. One thing I do want to point out that really caught my eye was the occasional pixelation of the graphics. During the cutscenes, there were moments where the characters looked very pixelated, almost looking like the image was stretched beyond its normal ratio.
Sound: The King of Fighters franchise has always had great background music and XIII surely delivers the goods this time around. The tracks are uptempo with metal inspired riffs that go well with the games high octane action. Thankfully, SNK decided against using English voiceover actors preserving the games original in-game sounds and voices.
Replayability: Fighting games in general have the most replayability when compared to other genres of games. Just look at how many people still play Street Fighter 2 Turbo! What’s interesting is how the lifespan of a fighting game has evolved over the years. Nowadays we can go online with our fighting game and compete against the best of the best, right from the comfort of our own home. Like most recent fighters, King of Fighters XIII has an online component where players can duke it out with other players over the cyberwebs. Although you can take your fighting skills online, I would highly recommend practicing A LOT before you try battling someone online. I literally had my ass handed to me every single time I tried going online. All in all, King of Fighters XIII is a welcomed addition to the series that will be enjoyed for the next coming years.
Final Score: 5 out of 5!
King of Fighters XIII
Developer: SNK Playmore