topbox artBurn to fight!

At long last, the latest iteration of SNK’s beloved arcade classic is here—The King of Fighters XIV. Available for the PlayStation 4, The King of Fighters XIVmarks the first main-series entry of the franchise with characters that are entirely rendered in 3D. Directed by former game designer and battle director for Street Fighter IV, Yasuyuki Oda; The King of Fighters XIV was designed so that it would be less challenging for newcomers and satisfying for long-time veterans.

With several refined gameplay tweaks, streamlined controls, improved netcode, a new online Party Mode, and 50 fighters available at launch—this is shaping up to be one of the best games in the franchise. Regardless if you are a long-time fan or new to the series, The King of Fighters XIV has something that every fighting game fan will enjoy.

Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Developer: SNK
Publisher: Atlus USA
Genre: Fighting game
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

The best roster of characters yet

SNK has done an excellent job of offering a diverse range of characters throughout the history of The King of Fighters franchise, and The King of Fighters XIV does not disappoint. Arguably the best roster yet in the series, The King of Fighters XIV comes with one of the most diverse and fulfilling rosters that makes other fighting games pale in comparison. With an astounding 50 fighters that are playable from day one, 16 teams of 3 and 2 boss characters, this is one of the biggest rosters in The King of Fighters history.

As with any fighting game, the characters play integral part of your overall experience. With the sheer variety of characters contained in The King of Fighters XIV, I felt compelled to try every single one. What I liked about the roster in The King of Fighters XIV was that practically every single character was unique and had their own identity. It is clear to see that SNK did not just simply clone characters to bump up the character count.

In terms of diversity, the character roster in The King of Fighters XIV ranges from Kukri, a mysterious fighter who works for a secret society and can transform into sand to evade attacks to King of Dinosaurs, a mysterious heel wrestler who wears a tyrannosaurus mask and can take down even the most seasoned martial artists. Fan favourites such as Choi Bounge, a Freddy Krueger inspired fighter with super speed and devastating claw attacks, makes a return to The King of Fighters XIV. Truth be told, my favourite new character is Zarina, a cheerful Colombian fighter who uses her dancing skills to kick her opponent’s butt. Watch out!

While some other fighting games this year launched without a story mode, The King of Fighters XIV ships with a full-fledged story that is ready to play out of the box. The best part about the story mode lies in its replayability, as each playthrough unlocks promotional art from previous games. If you do well enough, you can unlock Antonov and the mysterious final boss.

charactersIntense and strategic classic 2D gameplay

The King of Fighters XIV’s core gameplay roots go back to the series arcade days in the 90s, when SNK battled it out for supremacy with Capcom. Although, The King of Fighters XIV has evolved with 3D graphics, SNK has retained the same intense and strategic classic 2D gameplay along with 3-on-3 Team Battle game systems that the series is known for. In addition, SNK has tweaked and refined the gameplay in The King of Fighters XIV to allow for greater mobility in terms of dodging and airtime. In turn, this makes projectiles from your opponents less of a threat as you have multiple options to evade them.

New to The King of Fighters XIV is the newcomer-friendly RUSH Mode, which allows you to tap a particular button repeatedly to pull off a flashy combo while dealing out a fair amount of damage. While these combos are not nearly as devastating as traditional combos are, it does give someone new to The King of Fighters XIV a sense of accomplishment and fighting chance against opponents. In turn, the RUSH Mode allows The King of Fighters XIV to build a community where gamers will feel welcome and encourages them to dig deeper into the rich and diverse gameplay.

Max Mode has been improved and refined with new features. You can now unleash new EX special moves for enhanced attacks, which allow you to perform extended combos and deal a lot more damage if you choose to. If you have played previous games in the series, you’ll immediately notice that SNK has placed less emphasis on long extended combos during combat in favour of quick attacks.

As mentioned earlier, The King of Fighters XIV retains the 3-on-3 styled fights that the series has been known for. Having to learn three different playstyles for newcomers to the series is now easier thanks to RUSH Mode. The King of Fighters XIV’s tutorial gives you a basic foundation to get you started in the game, and introduces you to more laid-back and calmer tempo in this latest installment. I really enjoyed the calmer tempo that SNK chose to go with this time around, as it gives you time to analyse situations before being bombarded by dizzying combos and attacks.

gameplayA shift to fully 3D graphics

The King of Fighters XIV marks the first main entry into the series to feature fully 3D fighters; previously the series has been renowned for its amazing sprite work and animations that few fighting games still use nowadays. When first announced in September of 2015, many fans took issue with the game’s new 3D graphics. Overtime SNK made improvements to textures, lighting, and even facial features on some of the characters.

Though there are some characters that look a little bland when it comes to skin details, ultimately SNK did a fantastic job recreating fan favourite characters and newcomers alike in full 3D. Also, worth mentioning are the dazzling stages you fight on in the game—Neo Osaka and Derelict Church look simply gorgeous. To boot, all the 2D fighting action runs at crisp and clear 1080p with a silky smooth 60fps that is quite impressive.

graphicsVastly improved online gameplay

The King of Fighters XIV supports 1-2 player local play as well as 2-6 player online play. It is evident that SNK has put a lot of time and development into providing the best online experience you can have with The King of Fighters XIV. By utilizing the PlayStation 4’s online architecture, The King of Fighters XIV has benefited greatly with vastly improved online gameplay compared to previous installments in the series.

You get the standard fair of online modes such as Ranked Match, Free Match, or Online Training. The King of Fighters XIV’s online lobby allows you to create a room of 12 players and jump between various match types as designated by the host. You can even message other players in the room waiting to play and battle amongst yourselves to reduce the waiting time. Moreover, SNK has added a new Party Battle mode to The King of Fighters XIV, which allows you to play with up to 6 people online in 3-on-3 battles.

During my time with The King of Fighters XIV, I never really had any issues with online connectivity that were out of the ordinary. I absolutely love the new Party Battle mode, the hours just flew by as I had nothing but fun with this mode.

party battleExpanded gameplay modes

The King of Fighters XIV boasts a wide array of various modes in addition to the Story Mode such as Survival, Time Trial, Training, Trials, and Versus. Survival and Time Trails are just as you would expect, you are limited to one character and either take out your competition as fast as possible or try to survive for as long as you can. Training mode allows you to practice battles with your favourite characters, and allows you to change your opponent’s actions or power gauge amount.

The King of Fighters XIV’s trial mode starts out with basic special moves or small combos that you have to perform and master. Although these trials are short and punctual, it allows those new to the series to learn and understand some fundamental combos that can later be built upon.

Burn to Fight Premium Edition

If you are looking to get the ultimate experience, you’ll want to pick up The King of Fighters XIV: Burn to Fight Premium Edition. In addition to The King of Fighters XIV, you’ll get a collectible SteelBook, 144-page art book, and 3-disc game soundtrack. Just take a look at the video below and see just how awesome The King of Fighters XIV: Burn to Fight Premium Edition really is. A must have for any The King of Fighters fan!

Final Thoughts

The King of Fighters XIV pleasantly caught me off guard and impressed the heck out of me. With a roster of 50 fighters (17 of whom are new), 19 stages, and a whole slew of gameplay modes—the SNK of old is back. Important gameplay tweaks have been made that make The King of Fighters XIV accessible to not only experienced fighting game fans, but also the average gamer looking to get into the series.

Although The King of Fighters XIV’s gameplay has been tweaked, experts of the series will love the depth and strategy that SNK has retained. With robust single player and online play options, The King of Fighters XIV is game that fighting fans will not want to miss.

+ A diverse cast of 50 playable characters from day one
+ Detailed fighters with gorgeous attack effects
+ Easy to learn controls
+ Vastly improved online play
+ The new Party Blast mode is extremely fun to play

– Some characters have a plastic look to them
– Tutorial mode might leave some knowledge gaps for newcomers to the series

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 3.75/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall Rating 4.4/5 (88%)

Get The King of Fighters XIV for PlayStation 4
Get The King of Fighters XIV: Burn to Fight Premium Edition for PlayStation 4