It's time for the award for the game that best allowed for a spot of face-smacking this year. Anarchy Reigns would have been in this list had we not been all over the import version last year and declared it the best fighting game of 2012. But it does at least give a few others a fighting chance (hurr!), and we finally got around to playing Persona 4 Arena -- don't worry wquach, it made the grade this year.
It's easy to write Divekick off as a parody of fighting games, too simple in form to be taken seriously. But, on the contrary, if you subscribe to the notion that the genre has become bloated by overly complex combo systems, and needlessly stacked, overwrought special bars and abilities (and there are plenty who would), Divekick presents itself as a perfectly balanced fighter that forces players to think strategically and make the most of their limited movesets in order to achieve victory. It might not seem to take itself too seriously on the surface, but underneath the humorous veneer lies a beating heart of fighting purity.
Have you ever wanted to punch Harley Quinn into the Earth's Core? Or smack Bruce Wayne upside the head with his own Batmobile? Or feed Superman to a massive shark? Well Injustice let's you do all of those things and more. You don't need to be a huge DC fan to enjoy this game, and you don't need to be a fighting game veteran either. Injustice may not be a perfect game, but it's an entertaining spectacle, packed with content, and it'll leave with a big, goofy grin on your face. - 8/10
Killer Instinct is a brutal, attractive and responsive fighting game that feels fantastic on the new Xbox One controller. Its unique combo system provides accessible depth, bolstered by balanced characters and a pleasingly forward-thinking business model. However, though it delivers on local multiplayer Christmas beatdowns, Double Helix will need to bulk out the missing characters and modes to keep us invested for the long haul. - 7/10
Persona 4 Arena
Marrying theme and mechanics closely, Persona 4 Arena finally arrived in Europe this year boasting aesthetic delights, fan service for long-time series stalwarts, and an accessible entry point for budding fighting fans. Excellent offline modes and solid netcode for online play supported anther cracking fighter from Arc System Works that presented several innovative twists on exiting fighting staples, layering on levels of depth and strategy that made for a game to delight novices and veterans alike.
Namco Bandai kicked off the free-to-play fighting trend with Tekken Revolution, and it turned out pretty damn well for them. It didn't inspire us to throw out our old copies of Tekken titles, but Revolution did offer an easy way into the franchise that didn't constantly harass players with monetisation. Though we could still do with more content, if you wanted an accessible, big-name fighter at no cost, this was the way to go this year.
Best Fighting Game 2013 | Injustice: Gods Among Us
The fighting genre is notorious for adhering to relatively strict rules, for being rather conservative and stubborn in its ways, and for being alienating because of it. But Netherrealm haven't concerned themselves with vying with the Street Fighters or the Tekkens of the world. Instead they took an approach that builds upon the work they did with Mortal Kombat: providing a fighting title that entertains as much as it challenges, one that allows for both the casual and the competitive. It's made the "is it better?" question redundant. It's big, brash, completely over the top, and utterly ridiculous, and it totally works.
Plus, Netherrealm managed to make Aquaman cool. Aquaman! Hats off.
So that's our call on the matter, but what about you? Cast your votes and tell us your thoughts below!