IVThis generation has seen some really great fighting games, like Mortal Kombat X and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, as well as some disappointments. When The King of Fighters XIV was first revealed, it looked pretty bad. I’ve been following it ever since thanks to IVG veteran Rashmeet’s praise and the final product exceeded almost all my expectations. The King of Fighters XIV gets so much right and even leaves disappointments like Street Fighter V in the dust.
KOFXIV is chock full of content for both single-player fans and online fighting game fans. There’s a versus mode against CPU as well (Yes, I can’t believe I have to specify that but you can never be sure these days). There are also 50 playable characters and 18 stages, and the classic 3v3 fights are back.
Each member of the roster is assigned into a team based on location or fighting style. For example, Japan Team has Kyo, Benimaru, and Goro, while Team Mexico has The King of freaking Dinosaurs. There’s a Mission mode that includes survival, time attack, and trial mode. One thing I really appreciate is when the Training or Tutorial modes in fighting games actually give a damn about newcomers. The learning curve in KOFXIV may seem daunting at first, but the training helps. There’s even an online training mode.
KOFXIV stands out with its 3v3 mode. There’s no switching out mid-battle and you only get to switch once you’re knocked out. Take out your opponent team’s first fighter and you get a bit of health back as the follow-up joins the battle. Training mode is super important as the KOF games have always been fairly complex. But things are still accessible. You can deliver a quick combo by pressing Light Punch repeatedly.
That said, you can’t just spam your way to victory as learning how to counter these basic easy combos is important. There are multiple ways of jumping that you need to master as well. There are also Super Special and Climax Super Special moves that add some style and a ton of damage. While not nearly as flashy as X-ray moves in Mortal Kombat, these moves add a bit more of style to the fighting.
The Story mode is basically an arcade mode with 10 stages. There are a few cutscenes during story mode. The premise is simple. You watch events slowly unfold as a new King of Fighters tournament is hosted. You unlock new endings based on the team you complete story mode with so there’s a lot of replay value for this mode. I wish there was more to story mode for other teams instead of basically doing the same thing with a new team, but there isn’t. The cutscenes do look really great. I absolutely love the opening video as well with the kickass theme song.
Fighting games these days live and die based on their netcode after everyone is done with the single-player content and KOFXIV is great in this regard. The most recent patch removed all the minor issues as well. I’ve managed to play with people in France, Japan, and Taiwan with no problems.
My main complaint with KOFXIV is the visuals. The transition from 2D to 3D for The King of Fighters hasn’t been perfect. The visuals are inconsistent at best – some fighters look good while others look bland. The lighting could also be better. The 18 stages are all very different, but they do look last-gen. Thankfully, once the fights begin, gameplay matters and it just takes a bit of getting used to for the visuals.
The main theme music is great and I really like the different stage music too. Every fighting game needs to have a memorable theme, and KOFXIV delivers. Voice acting is only in Japanese and while this isn’t a big deal, not having some in game dialogue subtitled is annoying.
The King of Fighters XIV is a great fighting game and one that anyone with an open mind looking for something new and complex should get. It’s just a pity that the visuals don’t live up to the other aspects of it.