The King of Fighters XIII is everything its predecessor should have been and more. The game includes a hefty roster of fighters, a story mode and a boss battle that ends the story arc from KOF XI (something that was absent from KOF XII). Moreover, SNK-PLAYMORE decided to replace the Guard Attack, the Critical Counter, and the Clash System with new features (more on this in a moment).
KOF XIII contains a roster of thirty-three selectable characters (with two of the characters being unlockable) and most of them are fan favorites from previous installments. The team dynamic that was lacking from KOF XII is present in this release, and it includes well-known favorites such as Team Ikari (i.e. Leona, Clark and Ralf) and the Women Fighters team (i.e. King, Mai and Yuri). Moreover, the PC Steam Edition includes the paid DLC from the console version that adds purple flame Iori and Mr. Karate to the roster of characters.
As mentioned earlier, some changes were made to the gameplay to provide a more balanced experience. The first of these changes is EX Mode, which converts your fighter’s super moves (or specials as they’re known in some circles) into powerful attacks. This system allows one bar from the power gauge for EX Special Moves and two bars from the power gauge for EX Super Special Moves.
The second feature is Hyper Drive Mode, where the player can use unlimited Drive Cancels while the Hyper Drive Gauge is maxed. The third and final feature, Drive Cancel, gives the player limitless combo possibilities. Drive Cancels are used to cancel a Special Move to continue a combo. You can also cancel a special into an EX version, but not vice versa.
Changes aside, the gameplay is classic KOF as you punch and kick your way to the final boss encounter. The biggest complaint gamers had with KOF XII was how the fighters were missing some or most of their signature moves. While some of these moves are still absent in this release (i.e. like Terry Bogard’s Power Dunk), the majority of them are present. With that being said, the gameplay is a solid representation of how the KOF series has progressed throughout the years.
The controls use a standard four button configuration that was pioneered by the Neo-Geo decades ago – LP, HP, LK and HK. You can roll into or away from your opponent by press LP and LK together, and like all fighters since Street Fighter II, all special moves are executed by performing a half-circle or quarter-circle motion on the controller’s directional pad.
The King of Fighter’s XIII includes keyboard support, but it doesn’t work very well. The controls suffer from a constant input delay that makes online competitive play a chore. Plus, the keyboard feels stiff and unnatural while playing, making it impossible to execute any of the special moves. Fighting games have always benefited from a good gamepad and/or arcade stick. And since KOF XIII supports Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller, it’s in your best interest to purchase one before even attempting competitive play.
It’s also worth noting that KOF XIII’s gameplay relies more on combos than strategy. Previous KOF games (especially KOF 98 Dream Match) were about skill and strategy; the player wasn’t required to know any combos to win a match. While combos are a staple in most fighters, they are a necessity to stay competitive in KOF XIII (especially when competing online). There is an extensive tutorial that begins with the basics and then leads into the more advanced moves. Newcomers to the KOF series are strongly advised to use the tutorial before playing.
SNK-PLAYMORE was criticized for the netcode used in KOF XII. Gamers balked at the network’s unpredictability and the considerable amount of lag that plagued online matches. While not perfect, the netcode for the Steam Edition of KOF XIII is far superior to its console brethren. Matches between gamers from different corners of the globe still experience lag, but it’s not as severe as the console versions; it’s actually playable.
KOF XIII includes a multitude of features that range from an offline Versus mode to a Gallery where unlocked concept art and other KOF paraphernalia is displayed. You can experience the King of Fighter’s story by playing Story Mode or challenge gamers online via Ranked or Player Matches. As a 2D fighting game, The King of Fighters XIII is truly the best game in the series since KOF ’98 Dream Match. If you’re looking to take a break from the world of Street Fighter and want to try something that is truly unique and different, SNK-PLAYMORE has you covered.
Platform: PC (Available on Steam)
|Impressive 2D sprites and gorgeous backgrounds.|
|Remastered stage music and classic sound effects.|
|2D fighting at its finest.|
|This is the best version of KOF since KOF '98 Dream Match.|