Although you've probably read loads of first impressions of KOFXIII by now, i've only just managed to play it today at the Ultimate Clash X Event in London. (See the results for the KOFXIII beginners tournament and KOF02UM tournament here or here.)
First impressions of the game were pretty positive, i found the game very enjoyable and a huge step up from KOFXII.
There have been quite a few changes to some of the characters from XII, Clark who i used as part of my main team in XII i found incredibly difficult to use in this. Particularly since they changed his standing D to his forward+D from XII and his original standing D is only activated close up.
Although people had mentioned to me the command grabs were better in this game, i didn't think they were restored to previous KOF command grab properties. For example one game i played the opponent rolled out of my grab !! That's not to say the command grabs aren't better in this game, just not quite as good as i would have hoped.
Athena i felt was much improved, although not as strong as her 02/02UM version i felt i could play alot more like that version unlike the XII version, which i felt was a very weak Athena.
I was fairly dissapointed with Mai, i didn't feel that she was as good as her other versions. Particularly coming from playing 02UM where she has a large amount of special moves, she feels a little watered down in this.
Kyo seemed not that much different to play, they've changed some of the properties of his moves (qcf+B now has noticable recovery on it).
Kensou seemed alot more fun than his XII version.
Raiden who i practiced playing throughout most of the day is really as broken as you could imagine, i didn't manage to execute his full dropkick combo but the dropkicks by themselves usually did the job...
Takuma i quite liked, although i wasn't quite sure how to play him properly i thought he seemed pretty strong.
The colour schemes you can pick for characters in the game are really nice, i liked a good majority of them and felt SNKP must have put alot of thought into this.
I never quite got the gist of the BC combos or drive cancelling today but look forward to being able to spend some time learning it when the console version comes out.
Although Neomax specials look flashy in videos, they look even better when you see them happen in real life.
I didn't get to see many (particularly as people weren't quite sure of the commands for them), but the ones i did see i thought were pretty cool.
Hitboxes and cross ups i felt were a little strange, half the time where i didn't think i should have been crossed up i ended up in a cross up. There was one funny thing i saw during one of the matches where a player jumped over K' who did an uppercut into qcb+K and he did that special into the completely wrong way.
At the end of the day i thought the game was pretty decent and enjoyed playing it. Although i will stand by what i said to others today, i still think 02UM is a better game BUT i am really looking forward to the home console version now so that i can try out some more things.
I think SNKP did a good job on this game, it isn't quite perfection but i think once the console versions comes out it will only be a good thing for the KOF community.