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The King of Fighters XIII Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Not only is The King of Fighters a solid 2D fighting game, but it is one of the best games in the series. With dozens of characters and a robust story mode, this SNK fighter reminds us yet again why every serious fighting fan wanted a Neo Geo in the 1990s. Best of all, this exciting package comes with a four disc CD soundtrack featuring more than 100 tracks from a dozen different games. Highly recommend. Rating: 78%
The King of Fighters XIII
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The King of Fighters XIII The King of Fighters XIII The King of Fighters XIII The King of Fighters XIII
  • Review Score:

  • B+
Between Mortal Kombat, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition and not one, but two versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it's been a good year for fans of 2D fighting games. Not to be outdone, SNK Playmore (with the help of Atlus) has released the biggest and best version of The King of Fighters yet. The King of Fighters XIII may not reinvent the franchise, but it does make a strong argument why SNK was so widely praised for their high quality fighting games.

By now you know the set-up: A bunch of SNK's biggest characters come together in one crazy game full of team-based fighting action. We see mainstays from Fatal Fury (Mai Shiranui, Terry Bogard, Joe Higashi), Art of Fighting (Ryo Sakazaki,Takuma Sakazaki, Robert Garcia), Ikari Warriors (Ralf Jones, Clark Still, Leona Heidern) and any other popular franchise SNK could liberally pull from. The result is a roster of more than 30 characters, each with their own style, moves and combos.

The King of Fighters XIII (Xbox 360)

Like past installments, you take part in a three-on-three team bout. This is not a tag team event like Marvel vs. Capcom orTekken Tag Tournament, instead you use a character until they either get knocked out or win the whole thing. This places a lot of importance to who you select and in what order they fight. Of course, players not looking for the team gameplay can switch to a standard one-on-one mode.

While a lot of fighters this year attempted to offer a more accessible game to draw in new fans, SNK has taken a different route. The King of Fighters XIII is a dense sequel that pulls from two decades worth of fighting game experience and iterations. There's an overwhelming amount of moves, combos, systems and cancels to learn in order to stand a chance. Couple that with the dozens of characters and teams and you have a game that will take some time to truly master. The King of Fighters XIII is for a sub-set of hardcore fighting fan that is looking for a real challenge.

The King of Fighters XIII (Xbox 360)

Thankfully the game does an excellent job of explaining the differences between the power moves, drive moves, desperation moves, EX special moves, NEO MAX and max cancel moves. Not only does the game come with an 85 page long instruction manual (by far the largest manual I've ever seen packaged with this style of game), but the in-game tutorial is deep and thorough. For as daunting as the game seems at first, there's more than enough content to keep gamers of all ability levels entertained.

The big change this year is the introduction of a dedicated story mode. Here you'll find a series of branching stories that attempt to tell the King of Fighters narrative. They do this by showing you good looking animated cinemas that set up conflicts. The story and cut scenes change depending on who you select and how well you perform. The goal here is to see all of the cut scenes and fill in the full story. This gives the player an incentive to go back and try to fill in all the story pieces, something that turns out to be a rather addictive activity.

The King of Fighters XIII (Xbox 360)

While I applaud the effort involved in making these good looking cut scenes, I found the narrative structure extremely hard to follow. What's more, there's no voice acting in the cinemas. Instead we are given subtitles while the characters flap their lips. This is extremely disconcerting. It's not that I need voice acting in games, but there's something troubling about seeing people talk but not hearing any sounds come out of their mouth. Even if they didn't want to re-record the dialog using American voice actors, I would have still preferred some sort of sound to come out of their silent mouths.

The King of Fighters XIII also gives you a piece of the story for simply playing the arcade mode. Before each match you'll be treated to a lengthy back and forth between combatants, adding a lot of depth to the characters. Sadly, some of the writing is clunky and the character's motivation is often questionable. However, even with some localization issues, I appreciated the attempt to make these battles be about something.
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