The King of Fighters XIV (PS4) Review
In most respects, PlayStation 4’s The King of Fighters XIV - which is the 14th core King of Fighters game - is simply more King of fighters, but as a fan of previous entries in the series, that’s exactly what I wanted. There’s a lot that in this latest installment that veterans will find familiar along with new changes that will be welcomed. Familiarity is one of The King of Fighters XIV’s greatest strengths, allowing players to jump straight into the action while cutting through formalities that aren’t needed.
The plot to The King of Fighters XIV revolves around the character Antonov, a billionaire with the title “first champion” who bought out all of the rights to the King of Fighters Tournament. With the announcement of his new tournament, the champion created great enthusiasm around the world. The news reached out to many of the classic entrants of the tournament in the form of an official invitation. This time around, the story mode no longer features illustrated cutscenes sequences that thrusts players straight into the action. Instead, cutscenes are compiled into different ending videos depending on which team the player finishes story mode with.
The biggest change to The King of Fighters XIV is the graphics. Game visuals have evolved into 3D graphics more akin to the KOF: Maximum Impact series but still keeps its classic 2D gameplay. Visually, character models look absolutely gorgeous and are very well animated along with stages being very aesthetically pleasing. Despite abandoning the visual style of past games for 3D graphics, this style breathes a breath of fresh air into the series with its very stylish next gen look. The King of Fighters XIV features 50 playable characters including many fan favorites like Mai, Kyo and Terry in addition to nineteen brand new characters that come packing a litany of different play styles. With a total of 16 teams, this marks one of the largest character rosters in the history of the series. Some of my favorite additions include Sylvie Paula Paula, an electric fighter who very much resembles the popular J-pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Alice an idol mascot who makes pachinko coins appear from her attacks, and Shun’ei a manipulator of illusions who controls water and fire from his gigantic hands.
At its core, King of Fighters XIV keeps the same traditional team of three fighters sparring 1 on 1. A major change between King of Fighters XIII and King of Fighters XIV is the new Max Mode system which allows EX moves and extended combos from a power gauge. When the player’s power gauge hits level three, it gives them access to “climax supers”. There’s more newness to be found. Rapidly hitting the light punch will perform an automatic combo attack or “rush mode”. This will do significantly lower damage than the main combo attack, but will add a small bonus to the level gauge. With the level gauge at zero, the fourth hit rush mode will combo into a certain special move. However, when the player has one or more power gauges and activates rush, your last attack will change from a “Special Move” to a “Super Special Move” or if max mode is activated with the power gauge at one or more will change your last attack from a “Super Special Move” to a “MAX Super Special Move”. Another change are the different ways of canceling moves into super moves at the cost of a level gauge. This can set the player up for a devastating combo that can decide the outcome of a match. Overall, combat was fast and fluid. I am by no means a fighting expert by any stretch of the imagination, but overall I really enjoyed the new battle systems that show great opportunity for new or returning players.
The online multiplayer features a plethora of modes such as ranked, team vs, and single vs. Lastly there is party battle mode which pairs three players to form a single team to challenge another three player team. The online lobby supports up to twelve players so with the option of spectators being able to join and watch a match featuring integrated voice and text chat. There is also an option for the spectators to root, applaud, and boo their favored competing teams. Overall the online experience was very smooth for me with only a few matches where I did encounter some lag. This is where I believe the game will have it’s long term following.
There are a lot of reasons to keep playing, too. I’ve spent just shy of 40 hours with the game, and I’m still not done. With a massive art gallery and a bundle of PSN trophies to unlock, The King of Fighters XIV may not be the best King of Fighters game, but perhaps the most refined one. With its new graphical look and battle systems, I dare say this game could rival Street Fighter. Underneath The King of Fighter’s familiar surface is a whole new game that’s been crafted in the same tradition that made the previous entries such a pleasure to play.
The King of Fighters XIV is a must-play for King of Fighters fans and fighting freaks alike.
-Huge character roster
-Online party mode
Review copy courtesy of Atlus USA