King of fighters made its first debut in arcades in 1994, and players got treated to a different take on the fighting game genre where instead of just one on one, you have a three-versus-three team elimination match. In the beginning you had a choice of many different types of fighters that come from games like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and other various Neo Geo or SNK games, but later gave you the option to pick each fighter from different teams.
Many years later, the game has made some changes and improvements but still kept the same style of play along with most of the fan favorite characters like Terry, K’, Iori, Kyo and some new ones as well. So what’s new to the game? The graphics are now in 3D also some of the gameplay has been tweaked to help both veteran players and newcomers. What this means is if you’re a new player you can jump right in and simply press the square button repeatedly to do a quick combo much like in Persona 4 Ultimax, while for the more advanced or professional players you now have the ability to string a super special move (level 1) max super move (level 2) into a climax super special (level 3).
For the novice this may not sound like much, but for the fighting game enthusiast this can open up a lot of possibilities on how to end a combo. You can also use EX-mode to set up or activate it in between your combo, which adds more ways to set up an opponent. This is where King of Fighters XIV shines because it can make every match intense. For example when you are down to your last fighter, your power bar can go up from three bars to five which will give you the ability to combo form a level 1, 2, or 3 super max move, and because of this, it can change the outcome of a match especially when fighting online with random people or your friends.
The animations for the level 3 super max moves are a treat to watch and makes for a great way to finish a combo, while every character is unique and fun to play. Like every fighting game, you have a story mode, online battle mode, tutorial, mission mode, versus mode, gallery, player data and practice mode. The story, if you are a long time KOF fan, picks up where it left off after the defeat of Ash Crimson, but for newcomers it might get confusing. Well let’s be honest, you’re really playing this game to beat the crap out of somebody like your friends or other people. The best thing about it is the character interactions with each other, some serious and some comical that it makes you curious and want to learn more about them.
Online battle is where it’s at and the cool feature new to this is the chance to team up with your friends or other people online in a 3 vs 3 battle which can make for some awesome matches or could leave you yelling at a fellow teammate because they tried to do a fancy finish only to fail and lose the entire match for you. But that’s what makes it fun and exciting. Tutorial is a great way for new players to learn the basic and advanced techniques, versus mode lets you play one on one or three on three against a computer opponent or a friend.
Practice mode helps players learn how to use their favorite fighters and the recording feature in it lets you record how you want the practice dummy to move. For example, if you want to learn how to counter a specific character or how to counter your own combo, there are plenty of ways to use this feature and I am sure a lot of you who want to take your skills to the next level can think of the possibilities.
Mission mode has features like survival, time attack and trial, the first two are self-explanatory but trial is in my opinion a good way to learn how to string together combos for each fighter. You start with the simple combos to more advanced and challenging combos, but more importantly it helps you figure out what move can be stringed together by following the commands. You are not limited to just that. I spent most my time trying out new and different ways to set up moves that can end in a climax super special.
Player data has player record, my ranking, my profile, character record, and replay data. The gameplay controls feel smooth and all the characters feel like they are balanced pretty well. I’m not too critical about animation frame rate and such so as far as I know the game plays very well and I’ve played the game countless hours a day just trying to figure out new ways to set up combos. It says a lot because I don’t really spend a lot of time on any fighting game except Dead or alive 5.
With so many features to choose from and the option to play with a control pad or a PS3 fight stick, King of fighters XIV is definitely the fighting game for all fighting game fans old and new.
Final Score: 5/5