August 26, 2016
Deep Silver, SNK, Atlus
The King of Fighters XIV is the first fighting game I have played on PS4 at home, and as such, almost all of the game was new to me. I have reviewed it through the lens of someone new to both this particular title and the genre it represents.
In King of Fighters XIV, the tournament has become a major business, generating a worldwide following and countless spin offs. A billionaire, Antonov, purchases exclusive rights to host King of Fighters which in turn creates a new wave of international hype. Official Invitations are sent to both veterans and newcomers, but no one could foresee just what kind of attention would be attracted this time.
King of Fighters XIV centres around 3 on 3 fights, which I found interesting, as I believe this is meant to lend itself to greater flexibility in fighting style. There is an impressive roster of 50 characters to choose from, and it makes sense to create a team comprised of short and long range fighters. To its credit, the game does make some allowances for that. For an introduction to the teams, there is a series of youtube clips available to check out. I mostly played as team psycho soldier, featured below.
One of the biggest changes in King of Fighters XIV is the shift to 3D graphics. The obvious perk here is that a whole new layer of depth is added to the gameplay even though the battles have remained in a 2 dimensional plane. The range of battlegrounds is awesome, and the fact that so much happens in the background as you fight also complements the fast pace of the game itself. From Japanese gardens to airships and amusement parks, there is plenty to take in while you fight.
King of Fighters XV offers several play modes;
Story: The competition mode
Versus: The multiplayer mode
Training: Where you can hone your skills against any other playable character
Gallery: Where you can view all of the stills you have unlocked as you progress
Online: Featuring up to 6 vs 6 combat
Mission: Trial, Time attack and survival features
Tutorial: Where you can learn the controls 1 by 1
I encountered some grief when it came to using the multiplayer option, but this is partially due to the fact that I’ve never used a multiplayer game on PS4 before. That being said, there was no prompting inside the game to assign a different user (either pre-created or guest) to the second controller, which I feel is somewhat prohibitive to new players. Having to fumble my way through that process around friends was somewhat embarrassing, but we did get there in the end.
Like any fighting game, The King of Fighters XIV uses directional movements in conjunction with high/ low punches and kicks to pull of moves and combos. By repeatedly pressing square you are able to trigger a rush combo that will form the foundation of your gameplay. The moves at the end of the rush combo also increase in power and form as you generate power gauges.
Alongside the standard commands and throws, there are also 3 layers of special moves:
Special moves: Able to be executed without activating Max Mode
Super Special Moves: Requires Max Mode and expenditure of 1 power gauge
Climax Super Special Moves: Requires Max Mode and expenditure of 3 power gauges
I was overwhelmed before I even began really. What would have saved me in this regard was something telling me which move I was triggering. I’m fairly certain that the characters were shouting the names of some of the moves while I played, but;
a) this was often in the middle of battle, alongside various cries and grunts and;
b) was set against the noise of the combat stages and various other effects.
The saving grace came in the form of the tutorial, which runs through everything you are able to do, all 40+ combinations. There are so many actions you can take that I tip my hat off to the veterans of the franchise who have (hopefully) managed to commit them to memory.
- Intense fighting
- Storyline woven into the tournament style of play
- Complex action sets x 50 characters
- No visual cues when it comes to pulling off moves/ combos
I have to admit that I was unable to beat the endgame boss. After several attempts at trying to master the controls of the game, I found myself having to resort to button mashing in the hopes that I would trigger something that would work in my favour. I disliked this immensely, as I pride myself on my ability to pick up and play games I’m not used to. I enjoyed my foray into the world of The King of Fighters XIV for what it was, a dip into the furiously fast world the developers have created, but I will not be returning to it again. It felt like a very niche microcosm to me; one that didn’t make a lot of attempts to engage with anyone existing outside of itself. I wish the die-hard fans good luck and adieu.