I’ve played fighting games for most of my life with some of my favorite’s being the Tekken and Mortal Kombat franchises. Up until now I have never played a King of Fighters game and now Atlus and SNK have released The King of Fighter XIV for the PlayStation 4. I’ve always been curious about this long running fighting game franchise and while I like some things about it it has its faults as well.
The King of Fighters XIV is kind of a mix of a couple different styles of fighting games. The game is mainly a 3v3 fighting game much like the Marvel vs Capcom franchise but if you don’t like that style you can play 1v1 as well. The game has a good set of modes with most of it being what you come to expect from a fighting game. It has a story mode, versus mode, mission which consists of survival, time trials, and trials. Then there is a training mode and tutorial as well as a gallery. Of course there is online modes as well but more on that in a bit.
So like I said the game is mainly a 3v3 fighting game where you will pick three characters to form your team. During the match however there is no way to switch between your roster of fighters. You play as a single character until he/she is defeated and then your next one swaps in. Even though I had never played a King of Fighters game before I found it pretty easy to learn. It has the usual light and heavy kicks and punches with each being assigned to the four face buttons. You can also perform most of the special attacks by using motions that again you should be familiar with if you played any other fighting game before. Then you have your special meter that builds up and can be used to unleash three different types of attacks.
There are also some new features in this latest installment with one of them being called Rush mode. This allows you to hit the light punch button over and over to do quick combos but at the cost of doing less damage. Then you have Max mode which uses some of your special meter to allow you to use a EX version (more powerful) of one of your three special attacks. Overall I found the fighting in this game to be fun and enjoyable. Something that can be a bit intimidating to newcomers is the huge roster of characters to choose from. There are a total of fifty different characters in the game and it can take awhile to find someone you like or three people in this games case with it being focused on 3vs3 fighting. For those of you who played previous entries there are some new additions such as a wrestler dressed in a dinosaur costume. Yeah it’s pretty crazy.
Now as for the online portion of the game it has Ranked matches, Free matches, and an Online Training mode. If you play Ranked you can only play 3v3 so it’s a bit of a bummer there is no 1v1 option. Free matches allow you to play 1v1 or 3v3 in rooms of up to twelve players. There is also a Party mode option here that puts you in a 3v3 match with a different player controlling each fighter. If your fighter gets knocked out then the next player in your team of three takes over. It’s pretty cool and helps set it apart from some other online fighters. Online Training mode is the same as regular training mode except you can do it with another player online. For the most part the online seemed to perform well but I did get into some matches that were very laggy.
As for the graphics The King of Fighters XIV now features 3D worlds while remaining a 2D fighting game. This helps bring some of the arenas to life more and make them more interesting. It’s far from the most visually appealing fighting game on the market but it looks good enough. Each of the characters look different and distinct enough as well which is good for a game that boasts fifty of them. The game has a pretty awesome soundtrack as well whether you’re in the menus or fighting it out on one of the many stages. The gallery mode I mentioned earlier can be used to listen to them as well. All voices are in Japanese only so if you were hoping for some English dub like myself you’ll be disappointed.
Overall for this being my first time playing a game in this franchise I felt the game was a pretty solid offering. It was pretty easy for me to pick up and play but it has that depth the more hardcore fighting game fan may be looking for. I prefer 1v1 fighting games but the 3v3 didn’t bother me too much and it works well with the huge roster on display here. I’m also not a big online player in fighting games so I wish there was more single player content as the story mode isn’t very long. I don’t think this is the king of fighters but I do think The King of Fighters XIV is worth checking out.
* A Review copy of this game was provided by the publisher