SNK's King of Fighters continues to exist. Does it bother standing out with its latest iteration?
You've heard of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. On occasion, you may have found Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Soul Calibur to be pretty cool. However, for fighters who've been brawling since the early 90s, the name "King of Fighters" still resonates. In this era, King of Fighters 14 feels incredibly out of place. What could a niche, difficult to play fighting game have to offer this generation?
It's not visual excellence, that's for sure. King of Fighters 14 is a PS4 exclusive and yet its visuals still look like something remastered from the early PS3 era. Though performance is decent overall with fighters flowing well enough, there isn't nearly enough appealing environmental detail or character animation to really suck you in. If SNK had stuck with the 2D sprites that defined older games, then King of Fighters 14 may have been better off.
But it's the actual fighting that makes this year's entry so intriguing. King of Fighters 14 features Ultra Moves of sorts called Climax Super Special Moves (seriously). These can cause massive damage but require three energy bars in total. There's also Max Mode which allows a player to hit EX specials for a limited time and HD Thrust to slam opponents into walls. Finally, Garou fans will recognize the Just Defend feature that rewards well-timed blocking. Simple combos exist to be performed but with 50 characters to choose from, you'll be spending quite a while trying to find your perfect mix of fighters.
Though King of Fighters 14 includes a tutorial, it's not as in-depth as more modern fighters. As it stands, the game's main reward comes from mastering its various systems. There isn't all that much to the Story Mode. Survival and Time Trial are also fairly typical, thus leaving you to find most of your enjoyment online. It's an overall decent experience and for those who like this particular style of fighting that demands dedication, timing and abject execution, King of Fighters 14 may be the game for them.
However, if you're someone who's enjoying Street Fighter 5 or the latest BlazBlue and have no desire to deviate from the norm, then you're not missing much by skipping King of Fighters 14. Presentation-wise and just in terms of quality of life features, it leaves a lot to be desired. Think of it as a continuing romance between SNK and its player base - it's comfortable and familiar for those involved. For everyone else, it's just there.
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