King of Fighters XIII: Global Match Review – A Classic Returns

King of Fighters XIII: Global Match Review

SNK is one of the pillars of the fighting genre. From the lauded Samurai Shodown series to the remarkable Garou: Mark Of The Wolves, the Japanese giants have created incredible titles that offer a nuanced approach to combat. King of Fighters is a celebration of the genre with characters from a range of their franchises. The 13th iteration is the last to include the iconic pixel art style and is considered one of the greatest in the long-running series. With a new and improved online component, does Global Match offer enough to make this an essential release?

King of Fighters is renowned for being a technical masterpiece that combines numerous mechanics in thrilling battles. The 13th iteration is one of the greatest examples of this, giving you a variety of methods to take out your opponent. You can smoothly transition between each attack which makes your combinations look slick. Special maneuvers offer unique abilities that give range and close-quarters attacks that punish your enemy. Working out methods to shift between this is enthralling especially when you merge this with countering your enemy too.

Hyper Drive Madness

Your super meter can be used to perform EX versions of moves which will slash the health. This is separate from the Desperation Moves which are larger, flashier attacks that use your entire meter. KOF also includes more technical features such as the Drive Cancel which allows you to halt a move so that you can then attack via another method. Doing so drains your Hyper Drive Gauge, however, saving this allows you to unleash NEO MAX attacks which gives you the ability to unleash extreme damage and easily chain attacks. The range of options adds another tactical layer to proceedings as you will need to decide which way to use the skills in order to claim victory. It’s a deep system that will allow for enthusiasts to delve into the game to learn the many facets that make this a top-tier release in the franchise.

Being the last in the pixel art style, KOF XIII feels like the end of an era. While XV’s 2.5D adaptation looks and plays incredibly well, there’s something alluring about the original style. Each character is full of personality and animated impeccably. The sprites include a delicious level of detail which allows them to stand out on the varied backgrounds. Each environment is busy with delightful happenings in every direction. The culmination of these aspects results in a wonderful design that harkens back to the roots of the genre in a modern manner.

Full of Character

The roster, like other releases in the franchise, packs a variety of fighters, including the DLC characters. Each competitor is different with unique movement and attacks but also accessible which allows you to dip in and out. Characters are distinct in terms of their qualities which allows you to select someone that suits your play style. Whether you prefer heavy brutes, mid-range attackers or zippy aerial assault artists, there are plenty available for you to choose from. While the game is tailored for you to learn and master the characters of your choice, knowledge of the mechanics means that you can float between them due to fighters having similar inputs for specials. This allows you to experiment before settling on a team of 3.

The game includes a ton of content that gives you the opportunity to master the art of fighting. Basic tutorials give you a basis to engage while trial mode gives you the ability to delve into the litany of features for any character in the game. Here you can learn specific combos and truly become an expert in the arena. The long-running franchise provides an element of accessibility by giving a range of options for any skill level.

The story mode pales in comparison to modern titles in the genre. It’s basic and quite difficult to comprehend the insanely complex narrative. With still images and text, this feels dated and lacks the flair that we have become used to thanks to studios like NetherRealm.

Minimal Upgrades

As part of Global Match, SNK introduces a rollback netcode and branches out the online options. Improving on the original, matches are now mostly stable and you can also spectate while you wait. Even though these aspects enhance the experience, the player base is quite small which can result in extended wait times. Luckily, it does specify the number of people on servers so you don’t have to wait without knowledge of how many people are actually playing.

King of Fighters XIII: Global Match tweaks the online netcode to improve on a classic. The combat remains a highlight of the franchise and the visuals still look stunning. Unfortunately, SNK doesn’t add anything extra to the mix barring online upgrades. While I do wish they would have taken the opportunity to add more to celebrate the franchise, what’s on offer is definitely worth the price of admission.

*** A PlayStation 5 key provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Excellent Classic Gameplay
  • Fantastic Visuals
  • Lots of Content

The Bad

  • No New Additions Barring Online Improvements
  • Still Not 100% Stable Online
  • Small Online Player Base