Game Rant’s Anthony Mole reviews The King of Fighters XIII [Revised]
It’s no secret that many fans loathed The King of Fighters 12, the game was lacking in many areas and is commonly viewed as the weakest game in the franchise. With The King Of Fighters 13, SNK Playmore hopes to make up for the short comings of 13′ predecessor.
Does the studio succeed in crafting an expansive fighting game? Or does this title crash and burn? Well, in the end, that really depends on one’s experience with the genre.
To really sum it up, The King Of Fighters 13 is a capable fighter, albeit one that is stuck in tradition – and, between a combination of difficult gameplay and lack of polish to non-gameplay elements, it’s likely to draw in new fans, though returning die-hards will probably enjoy the no frills challenge. The game’s menus show that SNK Playmore wasn’t interested in fleshing out the presentation with flashy animations – as they are very basic. It’s bland, boring and can sometimes cause the player to miss what they’re looking for as there’s no way to differentiate between the various bars – aside from the text and a picture on the right hand side. The menus, interestingly, are a stark contrast to the game’s beautiful hand drawn character sprites – which are a visual feast.
Most players new to the franchise will probably start off in the tutorial mode, though veteran players can skip this unless they want the trophy/achievement that comes with completing them. The first of the two tutorials is pretty straightforward, but for the newcomers the second can be a bit intimidating as it opens up newbies to the game’s special attacks. Special attacks usually consist of players entering in a combination of d-pad button presses followed by one or two of the face buttons. Once again, for experienced players this will all come second nature, but for those new to the franchise, the tutorials is very difficult to grasp, especially when the special attacks become more extensive. The King Of Fighters 13 isn’t for casual fighting fans.
The King of Fighters 13 also one problematic issue: a high difficulty curve. For those experiencing their first King of Fighters title, they’re going to find the AI is absolutely deadly. There are options to tone down the difficulty but these are buried under the games archaic menus. It would be helpful if the team at SNK took a more modern approach when crafting the title, such as by displaying difficulty options before entering the story mode. It doesn’t ruin the game, but the lack of polish is sure to turn off some people. Luckily, the game makes up for it with it’s beefy extra modes.
Once players have finished the tutorials they’ll move onto the story mode. Seeing as how The King of Fighters 13 is cursed with being a pretty niche title already, it’s clear that Atlus and SNK Playmore weren’t going to have the resources to make the cutscenes we see in other high profile fighters and it’s evident that there’s a lack of polish. Instead, players will find themselves staring at a scrolling image while reading basically unskippable text. While the text itself is skippable, doing so results in missing an entire cutscene instead of that specific part. The story itself is full of fan service though that is sadly an advantage and a curse – fans will relish in seeing all of their favorite characters but new players, or those looking for something deep, won’t have much to grasp onto.
There are also a few other modes for players to dip their feet into, including the game’s arcade mode which allows players to build a team of three fighters and then face off against other CPU controlled teams. The game mode is fun, until the difficulty curve begins to sharply increase. Those new to deeper fighting games like The King of Fighters will likely find themselves struggling to make it very far before they meet an untimely demise. For fans there’s plenty of fun to be had, given the steep challenge, as well tongue in cheek in-jokes -such as when players face off in a mirror match and the characters accuse eachother of being an impostor.
One of the more enjoyable game offerings is the survival mode. The mode is very similar to arcade – except players only choose one fighter and their health does not regenerate between fights. Those looking for a challenge are sure to find it here. In addition, there’s also a time trial mode which has the player fight with lengthier time constraints.
Those who have trouble with the game’s difficulty are sure to have more fun in The King of Fighters 13‘s versus mode – which allows two players to fight head to head. Thankfully because both characters are player-controlled the difficulty curb is diminished, making the playing field relatively even – and, as a result, ends up being much more fun than any of the other game modes. Two players can also fight head to head online. The matchmaking system works pretty well, though sometimes it can lead to disconnections or players getting booted out of matchmaking because the game they attempted to join was full. That said, once players get into a game, it runs pretty smoothly. There doesn’t seem to be any noticeable lag – the only real issue is players who quit early because they lost a round, but one can’t really fault the game for that.
The King of Fighters 13 is easily a game that will appease fans but will cause some issues for those who are new to the franchise. The difficulty is sure to be a problem for newcomers, but fans of the series will likely appreciate the challenging difficulty and nods to prior series installments.
The King of Fighters 13 is available now for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyMole