So it looks like my personal favorite fighting game series decided to make a real attempt at a game after their last console release of KOF XII. The effort was quite apparent with King of Fighters XIII. The game immediately shows you the depth that was missing in its predecessor with an assortment of modes. The game is still the traditional 2D fighter and has the unique and interesting artwork from the previous game. The roster was strengthened by the some more popular characters from the series, such as Mai Shiranui and K. Also the game’s overall fighting engine was tweaked for the better. SNK Playmore got it right this time around.
The fighting engine still carries all of the rudiments of the series: special moves and supers. You can choose between 1vs1 and the 3vs3 KOF standard. The game re-introduces the EX Special Move, which uses up a power gauge bar to enhance or exaggerate the effects of a standard special move. There is also a new Hyper Drive gauge that fills up as moves connect, which one can use to perform multiple move cancels to create big combos for a limited period of time. Last but not least, they brought back the series-popular, pleasantly-exaggerated, and screen-filling NEO MAX moves! Take 2 power gauge bars and an active Hyper Drive mode, and your character will once again perform the one move your opponent should never be around for. If this is all Greek to you, the game has a decent tutorial mode to explain it all.
One of the notable additions is the existence of a plot, in both the story mode and arcade. (Yes, the previous game had seemingly no story at all.) Characters in arcade mode carry out unique dialogue with their opponents depending on the match-ups. The story goes as usual, someone important hosts a tournament while some sinister occurrence is festering up in the background, waiting to present you with a super-boss character orchestrated to induce the kind of profanity out of you that you may or may not have known you were capable of. In the meantime, you get a taste of why Ash Crimson is important in the overall story. You can also go in deeper than just the Arcade quick story and go right into Story mode – the mode created to give you, well, the game’s story.
Online play is pretty standard. You have ranked and player matches. The ranked match-ups do a great job at pairing you up with someone that has an almost-perfect connection with you. Online fights for the most part flow seamlessly. However it does a terrible job at matching you up with someone at your skill level. At one match you could be fighting someone that just learned how to turn on their television and in the very next, face someone with a 105 – 2 record. With so many fighting games at least making an attempt at fairness, this just made me scratch my head.
All in all, whether it was the sigh of relief since the “game sampler” that was KOF XII, or the fact that this is a good, complete and solid fighting game, I definitely enjoyed this game. The game’s presentation and soundtrack is nothing less than enjoyable. The game’s content promote its high replay value for fans and achievement hunters alike. If you are a KOF fan, you will love this game. Take heed of where you make your purchase and you may get the bonus 4 disc soundtrack from the entire series. If you are a fighting game fan, you should buy this game. If you’re not either, game-fly it and look at the pretty colors…