Release Year: 2010 (arcade), 2011 (home console)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developer: SNK Playmore
The King of Fighters has alas fallen from grace in terms of its popularity. Unless you live in Mexico,
KoF is not quite a titan of the genre anymore and is
not quite as talked about anymore as its peers
But that doesn't mean it's no longer good.
KoF XIII is one of the most underrated fighters from the 7th gen era.
For those unfamiliar with this franchise, it is traditionally a 3-on-3 fighter combines characters from SNK's other fighting series like Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury,
along with a host of original characters.
It debuted in 1994 with KoF '94 and would receive
annual releases all through the late 90s and early 2000s.
If you were turned off by King of Fighters XII, then XIII should deliver the experience you were looking for.
The art style compliments the smooth-as-butter engine perfectly. In an age where most of the game franchises have gone 3D, it is refreshing to see 2D HD sprites in a non-anime fighter.
The visuals are colorful, with stylish flare and are very easy on the eyes, and well animated.
And yes, Mai is back in this installment, as jiggly as ever.
The game is as much of a treat for the ears as it is the eyes, featuring a great selection of jazzy rock and opera rock tracks to set the tone. I am listening to it as I write, it's stuff you would want on your iPod. KoF has always excelled in music and XIII is no exception. If you can, I would recommend buying the game new to get the free 4 CD soundtrack that was included in the pre-orders. In addition to the music from this game, The King of Soundtracks also features music from all the previous games in the series. It is a trip down nostalgia lane for longtime SNK fighting fans.
So let's get to the meat of the game, with the presentation out of the way. As I said earlier, the engine is smooth as butter, thanks in part to top notch fluid animation. Matches flow wonderfully and connecting moves to form combos feels amazing as a result. Now, roster wise the game does not have as big a selection as others, but you might consider that a tradeoff for balance. Though it may have one of the smaller rosters in the franchise, I have yet to encounter a character who makes me want to toss my controller at the TV when I fight him. Well, except the final boss. I am pretty sure if you look up "broken" in the dictionary there will be a picture of this red, cheap SOB next to it.
Unfortunately I have worse news than the world's most broken fighting game boss (which is saying alot for an SNK game).
The game does have a glaring flaw that may very well be a deal breaker for some, and understandably so: the Netcode is God-freaking-awful. Playing this online,
the game becomes King of Laggers.
Players everywhere have been reporting this problem and SNK has yet to remedy this all this time later.
The input lag is so terrible it's not even funny.
No exaggeration, the character often takes a solid 3-5 seconds to do a move after I do the joystick/button combo.
Even for something as simple as a basic punch it takes that long after a push the button.
The thing is, fighting is a genre where online is extremely important. We buy them to play other people, not the AI over and over.
You would think in the 2010s SNK would make sure online ran as smooth as possible.
KoF may not be a titan anymore but it is still a brand many gamers recognize and love and buy.
Given how amazing the game plays offline,
it is just a shame we cannot enjoy it nearly as much when battling our friends online.
I want to recommend The King of Fighters XIII at full price
but the one and only thing that makes me hesitant to do so is the netcode. Although for me, The King of Soundtracks
that was included makes up for it.
I will say that if you are someone who happens to know fighting game players in real life to come over and enjoy this with you, it is worth every penny and it may very well become your new favorite/go-to fighter.
But if you mainly play these games online and so
that facet is very important for you,
you will not get a decent online experience here.