by Nataniel Hohl
reviewed on X360
With all of the nifty modes and features that King of Fighters XIII offers, it’s unfortunate that other prominent areas of the game are such a mess. While the basic tutorial is great for picking up the game’s controls, the advanced tutorial, meant to teach players about the various gauges and how they work, left my head spinning. The sheer amount of different special attacks, counters, tech moves, and cancels one can perform is overwhelming. Standard specials are a no-brainer, but once I had terms like “Super Special”, “EX Special”, “Super EX Special”, “Guard Cancel”, “Cancel Blowback”, and “Drive Cancel” being thrown at me, the feeling that I was actually getting the hang of the game quickly faded.
The game’s difficulty curve will most likely turn off many casual gamers as well. Even on the easiest setting the difficulty in both story and arcade mode starts off manageable but quickly moves into the realm of punishing frustration as you advance into the later stages. In fact, the final boss character in both modes managed to wipe the floor with my entire team so effortlessly that I knew attempting to retry would just be a waste of time as my skills clearly weren’t up to par (on the easiest setting). It's painfully obvious that SNK are catering to their hardcore players, but newcomers to the series are in for a rough initiation.
King of Fighters XIII’s biggest misstep however has got to be its story. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the game, you probably won’t have the slightest clue as to what’s going on the first time you play through the game. I can literally say that despite having played through story mode several times, all I can really remember about it is something about a spear and a sword, demonic possession, some guy named Ash Crimson…and that’s about it. The game started by rattling off a bunch of names, characters, and events; but like it's gameplay it soon turned to excess and left me in the dark.
Lost In Translation
As much as I am sure long-time fans of the King of Fighters series will love this new and revamped entry and the wealth of content it contains, I cannot recommend it to anyone but said die-hard fans. A convoluted mess of a story combined with confusingly complex controls, a large but rather forgettable roster of fighters, and a difficulty curve that borders on sadistic will quickly overshadow the game’s few redeeming features. Any fun that can be had here is instantly struck down for all but the most loyal King of Fighters fans.
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.