Review: King of Fighters XIII for PS3

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King of Fighters XIII for PS3, Xbox 360

Title: King of Fighters XIII
Price: $49.99
System(s): PS3 (Also for Xbox 360)
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Atlus (SNK Playmore)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Violence
Pros: 1 on 1 and 3 on 3 battles, nine gameplay modes, the story mode has visual novel segments, character sprites and environments look awesome, there’s online and offline multiplayer and there are 33 characters available.
Cons: You need 2,500,000 points in arcade mode by the end of the sixth regular match to move onto the two boss battles. Unlocking two of the characters in arcade mode is a bit random. The Tutorial mode isn’t very helpful. The story, even in the story mode which does a rather nice job of getting into details, is daunting and features lots of elements to consider. You can’t share your saved replays. You can’t watch other people playing online. Loading screen is short, but comes up a lot.
Overall Score: One thumb up and one thumb sideways, 87/100, B+, * * * 1/2 out of 5

When you think about it, King of Fighters XIII is kind of ironic. A really good game and one of the best, recent entries in the King of Fighters series, but still. SNK Playmore has been known for its fighting games for years, since back when arcades were where it was at. But now, it’s been sidelined by Capcom, Namco Bandai and Arc System Works.

At first, SNK Playmore decided to try and reclaim its glory by following the path Capcom and Namco Bandai took, experimenting with 3D character models and 2.5D. It didn’t go so well for them. Now, it’s going back to its roots and following Arc System Works’ path, putting together a game with gorgeous 2D HD characters, a more thought-out story and multiple game modes. It works, and the result is a game fighting fans will want to own.

King of Fighters XIII for PS3, Xbox 360

Despite all odds, the KOF tournament returns with a new sponsor

Like all fighting games, King of Fighters has a storyline that’s quite complicated and seeped in mythology. There are three sacred treasures held by three clans in Japan that were used to seal the eight-headed serpent Orochi. Orochi was sealed away with the treasures by the Kusanagi, Yata and Yasakani clans because he decided humanity had to die. Many entries in the KOF series revolve around Orochi’s clan trying to resurrect him and many other fighters trying to stop that from happening. Okay, I think we’re set.

Now, for the King of Fighters XIII plot. During the last KOF Tournament, things went rather badly. There’s this guy who looks like a girl named Ash, and he’s used it as an opportunity to steal Kagura’s and Iori’s powers. The Yata and Yasakani clans’ both fell, weakening Orochi’s seal and leaving Kyo and his family’s sword as the last line of defense. Plus this group people are referring to as “Those from a Distant Land” want Orochi resurrected completely. With all that going on, you’d think this year’s tournament would be off. But it’s not! The mysterious Bernstein family has appeared and is now running the event, with Rose Bernstein in charge. Which means its time for a tournament to prove who’s the strongest while also trying to stop Orochi from resurrecting and hold Ash in check.

King of Fighters XIII for PS3, Xbox 360

Time for a solid and well-rounded tournament!

The first thing I noticed about King of Fighters XIII is that it has a robust character roster. After everyone is unlocked, you have access to 33 different characters. Yes, it’s a little annoying that you have to keep playing the Arcade mode in the hopes you’ll randomly get a chance to unlock two of the characters, but still. Having 30 available at the outset is quite nice and gives lots of options for both the 1 vs 1 and 3 vs 3 matches. Plus, they all look really awesome. Each character is represented by a detailed 2D, HD sprite that is very well animated. I still think Arc System Works’ BlazBlue characters look a smidge better, but that could be chalked up to familiarity and personal affection for the series.

Plus, there are no control issues in King of Fighters XIII also controls well and has familiar cues for special moves. So if you’ve played pretty much any recent KOF entry in the last few years and one of your favorite characters is in KOF XIII, you should be able to pick up and play without any problem. Newcomers may face a bit of an adjustment period, but there are multiple difficulty levels tohelp with that and the trigger buttons have combination presses assigned to them (like the Evasive Roll is assigned to R1/RB and the Light Punch+Heavy Punch are L1/LB). Everything moves quickly and smoothly, and it’s very easy to launch into combos. In fact, even special attack combos are encouraged. This entry also has Power and Hyperdrive meters, which allow for special super attacks and to chain special attacks together into a massive combo. In the right hands, any KOF XIII character can be deadly.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to use those special moves. King of Fighters XIII has nine game modes. Well, technically 11 if you include the Replay and Gallery modes, where you can watch replays or view unlocked art, but the modes where you actually get to be active take priority. The Tutorial and Practice modes are ideal for building skills and getting a feel for characters. The Arcade and Story modes are the main mode, where players put together a team of three for attacks or pick a single character and go through his or her story. Just be aware that the arcade mode does force players to reach a score of 2,500,000 in order to face the bosses. For multiplayer there’s a Versus mode for local and a general online mode with friend, ranked and party matches. Finally, there are three modes designed to test players that are more advanced. These are the Mission modes, which fall into the Survival, Time Attack and Trial categories. There’s a lot to do in KOF XIII, which means people will be playing it for probably a month if they want to unlock everything.

One mode needs particular attention paid to it, and it’s the Story mode. Like most of the rest of the game, SNK Playmore has looked to Arc System Works and, specifically its BlazBlue series, for inspiration. Instead of a straightforward mode where you pick a character and see occasional story segments between fights, the story segments appear between each battle and are set up like a visual novel. Players get to see what bring characters from one fight to another and even make decisions to determine how the story will proceed. It’s a great gameplay mechanic and works quite well in this situation. Stories for fighting games can get convoluted due to unnecessary complications and so many characters and many people end up ignoring the story. So having it presented in this kind of manner and makes it easier for people to understand why all these characters have gotten together to fight.

Also, KOF XIII does support online and offline multiplayer. I took part in over 20 local multiplayer matches over Thanksgiving weekend though and found that those go smoothly and wonderfully. As for online multiplayer, the seven matches I participated in all went very well. You’re able to search for a match based on connection strength, which allows you to weed out any fights that would result in gamebreaking lag. Finding matches is a fairly quick affair as well, and I think the longest I had to wait to be matched up was still under two minutes.

King of Fighters XIII for PS3, Xbox 360

King of Fighters is back and better than before

King of Fighters XIII is a well rounded game. It has a large character roster, plenty of different game modes and a multiplayer experience that works well online and offline. I would even go so far as to say that it revitalizes the series, making it a strong contender once more and helping to banish the memory of the remarkably lackluster King of Fighters XII. In fact, while KOF XII may left people wondering if the the brand was ready to be retired, KOF XIII reassures people that the series still has potential.

Site [King of Fighters XIII]

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