The King of Fighters XIV Review – The Technical Fighter’s Fighter

The King of Fighters XIV
Developer: SNK Playmore
Publisher: Atlus
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Players: Single and Online Multiplayer
MSRP: $59.99

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

The closest game you can compare The King of Fighters XIV to is easily Street Fighter – every character has a bunch of regular moves, multiple tiers of super moves and long combos, chainable together to make huge, healthbar slaughtering techniques, all done by circle motions on the d-pad and some button pressing.

Throws and cancelling still exist. New from that series is a MAX mode which helps you attack faster and do better special moves; a roll to escape some attacks, and different levels of jumping, known as hopping, for more diverse aerial combat.

The most obvious change is that there’s 3 fighters on each team, and when the first is out of health, the second jumps in for the next round. Super meter is carried over, so the order of your characters is important too; your character you can best get super moves out with is best at the back.

The upside to being such a long series is that the mechanics common to the series have been polished to a mirror sheen. This has an odd effect of making the game seem really stiff and even unpleasant to begin with – moving, hopping, super moves, even chains can feel like they don’t actually move.

the king of fighters xiv 0217-16-5

However, when a mechanical understanding of The King of Fighters starts to sink in, everything makes more sense, and the technical side of the game really fleshes itself out, and it becomes really enjoyable to just beat on the other team whether by the skin of your teeth or a total wipeout with one character. This isn’t a game designed to move or look flashy in the slightest – everything in the game is trying to be an actual fighting game.

The heavily diverse range of 50 characters helps greatly as well; every one of them has a different set of basic attacks and special moves, and I haven’t played one character that isn’t viable in a three person team.

This does have the adverse side effect of having tons of moves to remember; a way to display compressed movelists on screen would be awesome, instead of having to pause and remember all of them.

There’s definitely something to be said about the game’s tutorial, or rather, lack of tutorial. The most you get is a series of small one move explanations for one character. The game fails to explain some of the most crucial things I only learnt by Googling the series – input cancelling, the importance of hopping, or even how some characters moves are supposed to work simply don’t come up in the tutorial.

the king of fighters xiv 04-14-16-1

I will also always bash a game that doesn’t have tutorials on individual characters; I guess you could argue that the trials will teach you neat combos for the characters, but not how to actually play the character at least partway effectively. You’re going to need a lot of time and a guide in hand to figure this one out.

Singleplayer content amounts to a basic set of story, survival, time attack and trial modes. The story mode serves as a traditional arcade mode, presented via relatively cheesy FMV cutscenes.

Every team of 3 characters gets a special ending if played altogether, and some neat character dialog scenes are available if two specific characters meet on the field.

Since this is game number fourteen in the series though, there’s a lot of stuff that’s happened the game decides to just…not go over. Thankfully the main story is standalone and basically not there to begin with; skipping the FMVs is easy after the first time through. Survival and time attack are exactly what they sound like, except these are only 1-on-1 modes.

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Something that utilizes the 3-on-3 gameplay a bit more would be great. AI difficulty sucks though – there are five levels, the third level (default) left me capable of playing the entire story mode without continuing once the first time I booted the game, then upping it to 5 resulted in me not being able to get through stage one.

Multiplayer has the usual ranked and unranked lobbies, training, replays, leaderboards and profile stuff to fiddle with. The netcode is surprisingly good – finding anyone to play with in my home country of Australia is nightmarish, but playing with people overseas goes notably well – there’s understandable slowness from the game trying to stay in sync.

Saying that it’s unplayable is an absolute lie, and that’s always a nice surprise. Notably every time I tried to get online I had my ass handed to me on increasingly polished silver platters, and nobody wanted to play more than one game with me, but this is me we’re talking about, I’d probably forget how to Dragon Punch if given the opportunity.

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There’s one problem with trying to play The King of Fighters, or rather, almost every other fighting game on PS4 as well; the PS4 directional pad sucks for fighters, being too hard to effectively quartercircle or hop, and the analog stick has so much travel as to be imprecise.

If you have a Vita I’d fully recommend playing via Remote Play; the d-pad works so much better. A second controller from HORI or another manufacturer would be miles ahead of the DualShock 4, too.

Presentation is, as was told by the move from the previous games’ 2D to a new 3D look, not the best thing in the world. It’s very simple, from the characters to the backgrounds, and it definitely feels cheaper than most other major fighting game franchises.

I’ll give it credit for one thing though – it has character. All the fighters are visually interesting to look at, and impressively varied for the character count. The Japanese dub is fine too; I didn’t feel myself wanting to turn off the audio.

the king of fighters xiv 07-12-16-1

The King of Fighters XIV is an odd beast of a fighting game that has tons of depth and great character variety. It’s not much to look at and it does a terrible job at teaching you how to play, but once you get it down it’s one of the most satisfying fighting games out there to learn and destroy at. If you have the time to get over that brick wall, this will probably be one of your favorite fighting games.

The King of Fighters XIV was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a digital copy provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 8

The Good:

  • Technically complex and very strategic
  • Feels great once you get the basics down
  • Diverse character roster with great designs
  • Absolutely massive skill ceiling
  • Surprisingly good netcode

The Bad:

  • Presentation is low budget, but has character
  • Impenetrable without outside help or tons of time
  • The base controller sucks for playing this one
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Eccentric PC and portable gamer. Would love to spend more time on his Vita if he could stop breaking the analog stick. Loves shooters, action games and the odd spot of racing.

  1. R.Hoffmann
    November 8, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    KOF 14, BlazBlue Central Fiction and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator are the great three fighting games of 2016.

    But I can’t wait for Tekken 7. The last Tekken we had on console was TTT2 in September 2012.

    Back in the Playstation 1 and 2 days we had a new Tekken every 2-3 years.

    Another point I would include at “The Good” is the great soundtrack it has.+ that it is offering a lot for players that prefer to play against the cpu.

    The story itself could have been better though. Even the Maximum Impact games were more thought out and had at least one interesting boss with Duke in MI1

  2. Post Konami Kojima
    Post Konami Kojima
    November 8, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    >the base controller sucks for playing “this one”

    why put that as a con, it’s not the games fault for you choosing to play with a shitty pad.

  3. R.Hoffmann
    November 8, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    + it seems its more a personal problem. I had no problem with the normal ds4 pad to play “this one”

  4. Post Konami Kojima
    Post Konami Kojima
    November 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    but putting it as a “con” seems retarded

  5. Mr0303
    November 8, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    KOFXIV is my favourite fighting game this year. It is so refreshing to see a complete fighting game with an enormous roster, story and gallery bonuses without any crappy DLC or a possible Super edition on the way.

    I don’t think the lack of individual character tutorial criticism is fair given that there are 50+ characters. Plus there are the challenges, where you learn some basic combos with each character, so it’s kind of a tutorial.

    It’s only weak point is balance, but the large roster is a double edged sword like that. Online you’ll quickly learn who the top tier characters are – Athena, Joe, Terry, Kim, Iori, K’ and King.

    Also the main theme deserves a special mention – it is pretty hype.

  6. R.Hoffmann
    November 8, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Retarded is a strong word for a simple opinion about the controls with a specific pad by a reviewer but I absolutely agree that this point shouldnt be there as a negative point indeed.

  7. Mr0303
    November 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Very hyped for Tekken 7 myself. I’m not sure how well the new systems will work, but it’s definitely a day 1 purchase for me.

    Who do you main? My guys are Dragunov and Heihachi.

  8. R.Hoffmann
    November 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    I try to be good with everyone but since the roster is over 30 characters big this is almost impossible anymore. Damn shame that Mokujin is not in Tekken 7 though..at least so far. I think they said the roster will be around 40 characters strong so they have 3 or four more to add.

    Dragunov is awesome, but I love to annoy people with Kuma. Miguel is one of my favourite characters but when I am desperate I use Asuka in TTT2.

    If you played TTT2 often you might have fought me under my psn nick Tekken_Noob666

  9. Mr0303
    November 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Yeah, Mokujin is a nice wild card and an iconic Tekken character.

    I didn’t play too much TTT2 online, since I prefer the regular game.

  10. R.Hoffmann
    November 8, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Yeah..I look forward to the 1vs1 battle more too..the long juggles with the tag moves in TTT2 were annoying. I prefered the gameplay about shorter combos and more “PsychoPower” mindgames with the opponent.

    With the bounce system in T6 and TTT2 a match was quickly over if one or 2 launchers were landed and the user learned one of the many long juggle combos.

  11. Mr0303
    November 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah, I’m not a fan of the bounce system. In terms of gameplay Tekken 5 is still my favourite.

  12. Llama Adventure
    Llama Adventure
    November 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Now when the hell is it coming out on PC?

    Come on SNK, you put ’98 UM, 2002 UM and XIII on Steam, you even dumped a bunch of Neo Geo games onto Humble Bundle and Steam to advertise your return to your roots. You could at least announce an upcoming PC port at this point.

  13. OSad
    November 8, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    I think the game looks great but man does the battle UI look bad compared to XIII. All the elements are disconnected and just floating there, it’s especially jarring if you look under the character portraits. Everything looks simplistic, without style, and the font looks like it came straight from Tekken or something.

    It’s nitpicking but… man, it looks like they shipped the game but forgot to swap the alpha interface for the one they were actually going to use. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5197d9e9db7ea7d3f778c7637dfe9afc7ad4b7534fb9a8c3b6f10c19a3bbaa51.jpg

  14. DynastyStar
    November 8, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Great review, I quite like it :D

  15. Madbrainbox
    November 8, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Oh yeah.Tekken 7 will be awesome.And if that does well maybe we’ll also get a new Soulcalibur game.Hopefully on PC.
    As for mains,I love Hwoarang and Brian but I think I’ll finally try to master King.

  16. Yabloko Molloco San
    Yabloko Molloco San
    November 8, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    “long combos, chainable together to make huge, healthbar slaughtering techniques” Those are shorter compared to the shitfest of kof 13 HD mode or even kof 2002.

    “Notably every time I tried to get online I
    had my ass handed to me on increasingly polished silver platters, and
    nobody wanted to play more than one game with me”
    Fightcade in a nutshell.

  17. True Goddess Reincarnation
    True Goddess Reincarnation
    November 9, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Anybody still playing this?

  18. True Goddess Reincarnation
    True Goddess Reincarnation
    November 9, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Hoff ur retarded

  19. Pirate Booty
    Pirate Booty
    November 9, 2016 at 2:11 am

    I really don’t get how these developers not understand how these games needs to be more accessible.

    The reason fighter games became so popular is because they were accessible and not e-sports combo mashing. SFII became popular because it was accessible.

  20. Grayares Fakcot
    Grayares Fakcot
    November 9, 2016 at 2:25 am

    ALL pads are shit for fighters period.

  21. Immahnoob
    November 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Because having to buy extra gear for a game when it can easily go without is a con.

  22. ProxyDoug
    November 9, 2016 at 9:02 am

    The art style looks great in 3D.

  23. Deathtone
    November 9, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Better than Street Fighter V

  24. Chocolate ISISCream
    Chocolate ISISCream
    November 9, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Stopped reading at KOF 14.

  25. OldPalpy
    November 9, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    The Saturn pad is god tier.