Developer: SNK Playmore
The King of Fighters has always been one of my favorite fighting game series. Each new release ranges from great, starting way back with The King of Fighters '94, to mediocre titles like KOF 11, and NeoWave. They've even attempted some 3D versions, which are better left unmentioned. Now, with this 14th release, SNK Playmore hopes to capture the classic feel of the original games, while leaving the forgettable ones behind, and boy, did they succeed.
If you've never played KOF, the premise is simple. Think of it as an "All Star SNK Fighter" with characters from popular games like "Fatal Fury", "Art of Fighting" and other games like "Psycho Soldier" and even "Ikari Warriors". Other characters made specifically for KOF appear in different forms with each new release, giving each new game a robust selection of characters. You pick (or make) your team of 3 characters and battle your way through all other fighters to reach the final boss. You have the option of playing through the Story mode, where you defeat a set number of opponents while being treated to some cut scenes based around your team, or challenge a friend in VS mode and Online. All modes are provided right away (after the game installs) and you don't have to download any extra modes for a complete game unlike some other recently released big time fighters.
Beating the other teams, who get progressively harder as you go, will advance you closer to the final boss that is usually an over-powered super fighter. If you actually manage to make it to the champion, it will take a lot of skill to finally win. Fortunately, after you are defeated you have unlimited continues with some nifty helper options that will alter the rematch in certain ways, like having the opponent starting with less health, or giving you full Power Gauge bars for super moves. These super moves can dramatically tip the scales in any match if performed at the right time, and can really give an advantage to a losing team. It's recommended that you experiment with different teams and members as the cast here is very diverse. Since KOF has always been known for it's fantastic balance and control, you can create many great teams and you don't have to limit yourself to the same characters each time you play.
Speaking of Control, KOF XIV has some of the best in any fighting game. No matter which character you choose, you can seamlessly pull off multiple combos with ease and go right into a Super Move with minimal effort. The entire control scheme is by far the best in any KOF game and really shows that this release wasn't just a quick cash in of a popular series.
The characters and stages are rendered in sharp 3D, but look and play like a 2D sprite fighter. Everything is fast and fluid, with a constant 60 FPS. SNK really took the time to make each character look as fantastic as the original games do, and not make them look like over-bloated piles of polygons. Music sounds great and fits each stage. Some characters even have their own themes that play when they fight. Sound effects and voices are your typical grunts and screams, as well as some funny broken English when some special moves are yelled out. It really looks and feels like you are playing a classic KOF game from the Neo Geo, and when you compare it to other new recent fighters, this is definitely a breath of fresh air.
The King of Fighters XIV is by far the best KOF to date, and also trumps those other recent big releases by a huge margin. If you are a fighting game fan in general, you owe it to yourself to own this beauty! The game play, characters and even the story line have been ramped up to perfection. I cannot recommend this one enough. Forget the other guys, THIS is the perfect fighting game for the PS4!