King of Fighters XIII: Is it back to reclaim the throne?

January 20, 2012

The King of Fighters franchise has had a hard time finding a comfortable spot since making the transition to the current generation. Street Fighter managed to reimagine itself a fourth time. Mortal Kombat, after a slew of average PS2 games, was able to revive itself and shine. Even Tekken managed to polish itself further and refine its gameplay, as well as bring even more beautiful visuals to the table.

So where does that leave the King of Fighters series? After a disappointing showing with its twelfth entry, it left many players wondering if it still had any steam left and could catch up to the other fighters out there. Thankfully, SNK Playmore proved that they could still provide fans with an amazing fighter.

The King of Fighters XIII improves upon everything that was wrong with XII, and adds some new modes. While Trial Mode isn’t something new to fighting games, the addition to the game is welcome considering its execution-heavy nature.

While veterans of the series might have an easy time with it, those looking to finally start playing this game might have a lot more trouble. Even a simple combo requires the utmost precision to pull off. Because of this, KOFXIII struggles even more to find its footing in this generation. With many games these days catering to casual players offering an easier control scheme, KOF sticks to its guns, and doesn’t stray from its much steeper learning curve.

One thing that KOF does better than most fighters is its visual style. From the stage backgrounds to character design, the game is beautifully animated and everything flows together flawlessly. Unlike previous entries, XIII matches this level in its music, giving the already hectic and beautiful experience even more flavor.

One of the few problems I ran into was its online system. In many of my matches, I found considerable lag issues that made me unable to play through the whole match. It happened several times while playing online, and eventually I just gave up trying to find a good match.

Regardless of its lack of innovation to the fighting game scene, those who lost faith in The King of Fighters should definitely reconsider. The game improves itself from the last entry and stays true to the series. With beautiful graphics and an amazing soundtrack to assist, those looking to immerse themselves in a challenging fighter should definitely give KOFXIII a shot.

Pros: Amazing visuals, beautiful soundtrack, stays true to its roots.
Cons: Controls require an insane amount of precision, shaky online matchmaking.

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.