I’ve been a fan of fighting games since I was a kid. I remember playing as Ryo & Robert in the first Art of Fighting and I played THE HELL out of Fatal Fury on my Super Nintendo. I went back and forth on the King of Fighters series only because I didn’t always have the systems the series appeared on. I was excited that King of Fighters XIV was coming to the PS4 because I couldn’t wait to try the new system myself. It had some hype matches at EVO 2016 and I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.
The King of Fighters franchise takes a step into the third dimension and boasts a whopping 50 fighters. Is this enough to keep the King of Fighters atop its throne? Or is it time for this king to step down and make room for the next generation of fighting games?
Now what’s new to this story of the ongoing franchise? The billionaire Antonov has purchased the rights to the King of Fighters tournament and proclaimed himself to be the “First Champion”. He’s throwing a new tournament to help grow the popularity of the tournament as well as see if there’s anyone worthy of taking the championship belt away from him. That’s the story of King of Fighters XIV. Really. That’s it.
Within the game you’ll be able to start the story mode and create your team of three fighters, or select one of the 16 premade teams and your journey to become the King of Fighters begins. There are a few pre-rendered cut scenes in the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story mode but that’s it. As with most fighting games this seems to be the new things in terms of telling a story. Depending on what fighters you have selected and who you are fighting against there is some back and forth with the other teams but with 50 fighters, the odds of having the right opponents line up is pretty slim. The ending of the story mode changes based on the composition of your team. If all three of your teammates came from the same pre-made team, you are treated to a hand drawn ending featuring the members of the team. If your team consists of characters from different teams you simply get a credits roll.
As I stated near the start of this review, we’ve seen many games in the past, which range from Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and more. After some time with the game there will be a lot to check out. If you’re wanting my final verdict on the question you’ll see that later on within the review.
Before I move onto the rest of the game I need to discuss one of the biggest changes to the King of Fighters franchise. The jump to 3D. King of Fighters XIV uses 3D characters and 3D backgrounds on a 2D plane. While this tactic has seen plenty of success with Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct, the graphics while you are in a match in King of Fighters XIV aren’t all that impressive. The pre-rendered sequence looks better but most of the characters have an almost plastic look to them. It’s like watching a movie where toys come to life and are fighting for glory. Does this take away from the fun of the game? Not one bit. I still enjoyed every minute of the game I played and I can’t wait to get my ass kicked online. I would’ve enjoyed seeing more added to the graphics in terms of animation and art style, but with some fighting games in the past getting DLC future content could improve the selection of areas.
The rest of the game has plenty to offer anyone–whether you are a newcomer to the series or a returning player. There’s a great tutorial that teaches you the basics of the game to get you started. I got through it in about 10 minutes. While for some people it may take longer since some players may want to train a bit more before ready for the main game. As with me I could fly right through it since fighting games are my forte. The game King of Fighters XIV does have local and online multiplayer (at the time of review, online was not implemented) as well as missions for the 50 characters included in the game. You can also find a game mode, which the goal is to survive and how many matches you can get through.
As far as gameplay, there is a lot of bang for your buck and it’s nice to get a fully fleshed out game upon purchase. I’ve already stated the game does include a survival mode, which is an awesome feature to really test your might. The controls are concise and smooth and the new “rush” mechanic takes a little getting used to. The new mechanic allows players to execute a simple combo by mashing LP (light punch). If you have meter then the end of the combo changes. There’s also a new MAX MODE which allows people to execute EX moves at the cost of 1 bar of meter. There are plenty of new additions to King of Fighters XIV to keep you interested.
While this game could use some improvements in some areas, it’s very easy to look past them since you’ll be having a great time playing. Bottom line for King of Fighters XIV, should you buy it? Yes. If you’re a fan of King of Fighters then King of Fighters XIV is a welcome new addition to the family. It’s a great fighting game that players of other fighting games can respect and get into quite easily. King of Fighters XIV has clearly taken the throne when it comes to fighting games, but for how long? We’ll figure that part out once the next fighting game comes along.