King Of Fighters XIII review

King Of Fighters XIII PS3

To rack up 13 games, a series must be doing something right – it’s pretty unlikely we’ll one day see Homefront XIII. In Japan especially, King Of Fighters is a respected long-running franchise, but going on this new effort alone it’s difficult to see why.

Take the visuals, which don’t so much fail to impress as assault your eyes like flies exploding on a windscreen. We’re all for retro looks – have you seen Amy Adams in Night Of The Museum 2? – but there’s an art to keeping old-school graphics pretty. Here, 2D characters suffer from jagged edges, underwhelming effects on specials, and three frame animations per attack.

That was fine in The King Of Fighters ’94, but our eyes have been spoiled by the likes of Marvel vs Capcom 3 since then. The biggest technical issue is the loading times, though: you can make a cup of tea, wash your car, pop to the shops and walk the family tortoise and still return to the same loading screen.

Often, these extended loads precede nothing more than an options screen – and once you’re done with that it’s back to the loading again.

One sizeable plus is the game’s fairly unique control set, with plenty of dodge, jump and counter options. It’s tricky but rewarding, and those poor animations actually come in handy when you’re trying to second-guess your opponent. Longer combos are difficult, thanks to enemies’ tendency to bounce away after just one attack – but that aside, the pace and difficulty are spot-on.

It’s the faintest of praise, though. Because as solid as the combat is, there are numerous contemporaries that offer as much challenge and fun with much more visual flair, and without horrendous loading times.

That means you really have to care about the series’ storyline to enjoy number XIII. Even then the old ‘only for hardcore fans’ cliché doesn’t apply, because the devoted will be hard pushed to find anything fresh here.

Our Score

Score: 5