A Brave New World
I like to consider myself a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to fighting games. During my time as a gamer, I’ve devoted many hours pummeling would-be opponents in Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive, and Tekken just to name a few but despite my love for the genre I was admittedly unfamiliar with the King of Fighters series until only recently when I played King of Fighters XII back in 2009.
While it was nice getting absorbed in the nostalgic wallows of 2D graphics, Street Fighter-esque combos and special attacks, and an old-school yet upbeat soundtrack; the game’s noticeable lack of story or variety quickly sapped my interest. I later discovered that I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed as the game had been ranked as one of the weakest entries in the series by fans and critics. Fortunately it seems the folks over at SNK heard the fan’s outcries as the recently released King of Fighters XIII contains plenty of content that will appeal to long time lovers of the series.
Starting Off Strong
The lack of content in King of Fighters XII has been met head on as the thirteenth entry boasts a whopping eight or so different ways to put the beat down on your enemies. In addition to a standard tutorial mode that teaches the basics of movement and attacking and a practice mode that lets players hone their skills, King of Fighters XIII has plenty for players to do once they’re ready to step into the ring. The game supports both local and online versus modes and even allows players to warm up against CPU opponents while they’re waiting for their next bout as well as capture replays of their fights for later viewing. Mission mode lets players practice some of their favorite character’s more advanced combos and techniques or put their skills to the test in 1-on-1 bouts in either survival or time attack modes.
Arcade mode is a staple of the series; assemble a team of three different fighters and go up against other teams as well as hidden “mini-boss” characters that can be unlocked if defeated. Finally the game’s biggest addition is story mode. Choosing from a selection of pre-set teams, players follow a narrative path that includes animated stills and cinematics which detail the game’s story and how that particular team of characters fits into the picture as they battle against other teams. Playing all of these modes can unlock various art-pieces and sound bytes in the game’s gallery and multiple playthroughs of story mode are encouraged in order to unlock all of the various cinematics and stills.
Players can also customize their in-game profile with various icons and “fight messages” and can even register a preset “fight team” for quick selection in versus and arcade mode. The colors of a character’s costume can be customized as well with up to five different variations in addition to the four that come standard with each character. I was impressed with the amount of detail involved in giving the character sprites their own signature colors as everything from a character’s clothes, hair, skin tone, and even smaller accessories like bracelets, footwear, and necklaces can be customized.
Loads of content for long-time fans to sink their teeth into including a very stable and well-designed online multiplayer setup.
Punishing difficulty and confusing story are big turn-offs for casual gamers.