Released last year in the arcades, the 13th episode of the famous King of Fighters Series has finally made its console debut today. In fact some retailers were able to sell some early copies since last friday. So how does the game fare? Will it make its place in the hall of awesome recent fighters like SFIV and Mortal Kombat? Keep reading to find out.
Much like previous KOFs (except XII which sucked) KOF XIII offer a multitude of characters. Fan favorites like Mai and K’ finally made their HD debut and they sure look fantastic. In addition to their arcade roster, the console version of KOF XIII adds 2 more playable characters: Billy Kane and Saiki(both needs unlocking but it will take you less than 30 minutes to do so) boosting the number of playable characters to 34.
SNK playmore will also start rolling DLC characters two weeks from now, with 3 scheduled characters: Classic Iori, Nests Kyo, and Mr Karate, the latter who is a powerful version of Takuma wearing a tengu mask. With such a large number of characters, the team possibilities are endless and will sure take you years to master all of them.
Unlike its predecessor who didn’t even had a proper arcade mode, KOF XIII does not shy to offer more than most fighting games in this are. In addition to a standard, proper, Arcade mode, KOF XIII offers a story mode, Practice, Versus, Mission, Online (duh), Replay, and finally gallery Mode.
Arcade mode: This mode pits you against different teams before you can get to the mid boss and then a final boss (Dark Ash). Finishing the aracde mode with one of the pre-determined teams gets you an ending cutscene (same one as the arcade version). IF you created your own team you just get a congratulation screen at the end. It is also through arcade made that you can Unlock Billy Kane and Saiki once you meet certain, easy, requirements.
Versus Mode: Pretty straight forward, you can fight against cpu or a 2nd player. A good feature that should be mentioned, is the ability to change the button configuration while choosing you characters, doing so will spare you pausing the the game in the middle of a fight to change the buttons config.
Story Mode: A solid addition to the game, story mode let’s you experience the story of KOF XIII in details. You can go through the story mode from 3 different prespectives: Ash crimson, Adelheid’s, or Heidern’s perspective. To fully finish the story mode you will have to go through all of them and use every team.
My early experience tells me that you will have to fulfill certain requirements (win against some, lose against others) to be able to know who won the tournament etc. You can go back anytime to story mode and start from any chapter you want to try different combinations. Story unfolds through beautiful HD artwork, with slight animation, and great score. This is definitely a great addition for the people who enjoy fighting games stories and especially the KOF history
Practice Mode: A straight forward good practice mode that allows you to try your combos and move execution on a dummy character. You can record your dummy’s movements to try different setups and situations.
Tutorial Mode: A begginers guide to the gameplay system, this modes shows you the basics of the game.
Mission mode: A trial like mode that gives specific combos for each character to perform. These combos range from 3 punch combos to 20+ hit combos that include various cancels, desperation moves and the all-powerful neomax specials. This is definitely a must play mode if you want to take KOF competition seriously.
Besides the trial sub mode, “mission” also provide a time attack and survival sub-modes.
Gallery: A gallery mode that allows you to view a huge number of art files, endings and videos that are unlocked through the various other game modes.
Customize: A fun addition to the game, Customize mode allows you to change your character’s colors as you see fit, you can change clothing colors, hair and even skin color. So if you ever wanted to play as a blue skinned kyo with red hair, pink pants and green vest you will finally be able to.
Online Mode: A quintessential mode to any modern fighting game. Online mode let’s you fight anyone online, anywhere in the world (no region lock crap like Mortal Kombat). The game offers ranked and unranked matches with the ability to record your own replays. The last KOf game had a shitty netcode, and fortunately for us SNK playmore learned from its mistake. My early experience and also from the early reports the netcode is as good as Street Fighter IV’s netcode, which comes as a relief to many weary buyers. However, it is a bit early to tell for sure if the netcode is really this good. We will update this story once we have more data.
You can set some rules when looking for an online match, like connection quality and region. You can also play practice mode or arcade mode while waiting for a challenger which is a quite useful feature. One aspect that i find missing in the online mode is the ability to spectate in lobbies, so it is impossible to watch 2 players fighting online while you waiting in line from your turn in a lobby.
Same as its predecessor, KOF XIII is a team based fighter (3 vs 3). You chose your characters and what order you want to play them. Each player has a guard gauge, a special bar and newly added Cancel meter. The guard gauge, just like in Street Fighter III decreases when you continuously block a string of attacks. The usefulness of it is to restrain players from turteling (a term used for players who try to guard every move in a match). The special bar is filled when you perform attacks or get hit, once a level is full you can perform either a super move or an EX move (pressing two buttons, instead of one, after the execution of a special).
Both an EX and super move take one level of the 4(or 3, depending on the character) level bar. The cancel bar is filled, slowly, when you perform special and normal attacks, or if you meet certain requirements that are mentioned under the character’s life bar (ex: hit your opponents with 3 normal attacks, or perform 3 escape rolls). Everytime you perform a cancel (including one special move in another, or cancelling a normal move into a special) the cancel bar gets reduced.
In order to perform the game’s most powerful attacks, known as the Neomax, your character must have a full cancel meter as well as 3 levels of super meter. These moves are quite theatrical and also devastating.
2D fighting never looked better! The game offers stunning visuals with colorful beautiful stages. In a time where most companies chose, the easier, 3d modeling for their characters, SNK stayed true to its root and offered us a highly detailed and animated 2d sprites. A job well done by the SNK art team
This is an SNK game, therefore it is quite normal to have a downright awesome soundtrack. The music is very fitting to he game, wether it is team specific themes or the different scores in the story mode, SNK playmore took music seriously in their game. And in addition to the arcade themes, the game offers the ability to change all the music to a remixed KOF XI music which is a quite welcomes addition for KOF purists.
EDIT: We can also confirm that the PS3 version of the game offer the XMB custom soundtrack so you can put those special 4 pre-order KOF music Cds to work!
- Very solid game system
- Great graphics
- A multitude of game modes
- An engaging story mode (wish Capcom will do the same for the SF series)
- decent to Good netcode
- Many fan favorite characters
- A very useful mission mode
- More balanced than its arcade counterpart (no more Raiden shenanigans)
- $49.99 price
- No spectator mode in Online lobbies
- No fully animated cutscenes (was hoping for some anime story mode scenes with voiceover)
After a mediocre 12th episode, KOF XIII is really her to redeem its name. With great visuals, multitude of modes, and a very robust gameplay system and a good netcode, this new KOF will surely make its place among these generation’s best fighting games.
Final Score: 9/10