The story mode is a pretty tight narrative that allows the player to enact the drama put forth. There is quite a hefty story acted out in the voiced dialogue. Unfortunately, the main arc is similar to what everyone expects and the banter is oftentimes just bizarre. For those few that are interested, there is a lot of story to get through from varied perspectives. This is fairly common in games ported from Japan but to compete with more mainstream titles like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and MvC, these issues need to be addressed.
King of Fighters, as the title not so subtly implies, is a game about fighting and as a 2D fighting game, KOF XIII is pretty good. There are your standard light and heavy punches and kicks along with jumping, ducking and contextual blocking. The real appeal to all of these retro-styled fighters is the combos and KOF XIII has them in spades. The new and most powerful addition is what is aptly called a Cancel. A Drive, Super, Hyperdrive, and Max Cancels are basically performed by canceling a special move and starting a different one prior to the end of the first. These will lay waste to your opponents but will undoubtedly require a bit of practice to master.
The online modes have been drastically improved but are still not quite ready for primetime and as this writer can attest, will certainly cause frustration. With all of the SNK quirkiness, retro design, and online issues KOF XIII is unlikely to garner many new fans. 2D purists and King of Fighter enthusiasts are who this game was made for and they should appreciate the quantum leap KOF XIII has made. There isn’t anything quite as mechanically pure for a throwdown with a friend or tournament.
King of Fighters XIII is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.