By James Galizio / August 27th, 2016
|Title||The King of Fighters XIV|
|Release Date||August 23rd, 2016|
I’ve reviewed many fighting games in the past, and although many of them have been good games, it’s always been very rare for me to find a fighting game that I find myself wanting to continue playing past the length needed to gather my impressions for a review. There have been some – this year’s Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- is one great example – but due to the large amount of training required to be any good at each specific fighting game, it’s always hard to justify spending so much time with them, especially during the time in-between reviews. It seems that recently more and more fighting games are getting released, with great fighters like the aforementioned Guilty Gear staying in the spotlight thanks to Capcom’s stumbles with Street Fighter V. That being said, with such stiff competition in the genre, does The King of Fighters XIV have what it takes to live up to its name?
The King of Fighters XIV sports 50 different characters for players to fight as, with different play modes like an in-depth tutorial, missions for each character, survival and time attack modes, and an Arcade/Story mode that proceeds differently depending on the 3-character party that you assemble to go through it with. KoF XIV doesn’t have the most single player content of any fighter I’ve seen – Arc System Works’ BlazBlue still takes the cake for me there, with its in-depth story mode, large breadth of character missions, and the always enjoyable Abyss Mode – but KoF XIV definitely comes with enough content, so players that might not want to touch multiplayer aren’t left out.
Speaking of multiplayer, however, this is one of the places where KoF XIV manages to shine. Chances are you’ve already heard it by now, but KoF XIV‘s netcode is a marked improvement from KoF XIII‘s. I tested online play both before and after launch (the latter of which being the reason why this review is a little bit delayed) and the game runs smooth in most situations, with the worst problems I’ve experienced being that the game may slow down slightly whenever connections aren’t completely stable. Even then, games have always been playable, at least whenever I had a chance to play online.
Online play features a few different modes of play. You’ve got the standard KoF 3-on-3 gameplay, where players each have control of 3 separate characters, swapping out their characters each time one falls, but the game also ships with a more standard 1-on-1 fighting game mode that plays out a lot more like Street Fighter or other more traditional 2D fighting games. One especially interesting addition to the game’s online multiplayer is the 6-player Party Mode. In this mode the game is still 3-on-3, but with a twist. Instead of 2 players controlling 3 characters each, each of the room’s 6 players controls 1 character, spectating before or after their turns. I found this mode especially entertaining, and I can see how the mode might prove popular as the game’s player base continues to mature. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing similar multiplayer modes in other games going forward.
With all that out of the way, it should go without saying that all the game modes in the world won’t save a fighting game if it doesn’t have good mechanics. Thankfully, The King of Fighters XIV is one of the smoothest fighting games that I’ve played. Every character I tested – admittedly, I couldn’t extensively test every character due to the extremely large roster, and my somewhat limited timeframe to get this review ready – were a blast to play as, and the game’s basic mechanics are still the same King of Fighters that players should know and love. Input Buffering, Super Cancelling into other Supers, and Maximum Mode allowing for players to quickly chain together attacks means that the skill ceiling for the title is astronomical, something that should appeal to genre veterans. Nothing feels better than chaining together attacks quickly thanks to the input buffer.
Besides the game having a large skill ceiling, KoF XIV has made some effort to make the game a bit more appealing to newcomers to the franchise. It’s not major, but much like last year’s Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax, continually tapping the basic punch button multiple times will allow for players to execute a small combo. It’s not as powerful as some of the combos that players can make on their own, and you’ll still need to make sure your attacks connect in the first place, but it goes a long way in making the game just that little bit more accessible from the outset. I’m not sure if it’s enough for me to recommend the title to someone completely new to fighting games, but at the very least it means that I wouldn’t say that the game is completely impenetrable to genre newbies either.
Besides the game’s base mechanics, KoF XIV manages to both look and sound great. Admittedly, the change to 3D graphics means that the series has lost its incredible spritework – so it might be hard to appreciate the game’s 3D animations for what they are, in comparison – but even then, the game looks slick and clean. I won’t lie and say I don’t wish that the game could’ve had 2D graphics, or that the game pulled something similar to Guilty Gear Xrd‘s artstyle, but it looks good nonetheless. The game’s soundtrack is fantastic no matter where you’re coming from, and I’m always a sucker for great videogame music.
Overall, after 15 hours,The King of Fighters XIV manages to stand out as one of the best fighting games of 2016, and certainly as one of the best exclusives for the PlayStation 4 at an MSRP of $59.99. I’m not sure if it’s the “king” of all fighting games right now, but then again I might be a bit of an ArcSys fanboy. Either way – KoF XIV is a fighting game worth owning, if you own a PlayStation 4.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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