PSX 2015: King of Fighters XIV impressions

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While there was a huge amount of games I wanted to play at the PlayStation Experience this year, one game I really wanted to see was SNK Playmore’s King of Fighters XIV which was revealed a few short months ago. While I feel sad that the developers decided to ditch the series’ iconic 2D artstyle for 3D models, the core of the game is still there filled with some crazy combos and abilities.

As for the 3D models, I am more impressed than I originally thought. It feels very natural, and while the visuals have been more polished, I want to wait and see how the final build will look overall since a few characters don’t feel as good as they should. A new knockback system sends your opponent flying back which can help if your opponent likes to keep jumping in on you. It also easily lets you combo them in the corner.

MAX mode has returned. In the middle of a combo, you can activate it to stop your combo, letting you follow up with larger and deadlier combos. (You can link into an SDM or the Climax DM.)

The build used at the PlayStation Experience featured six playable characters:

  • Kyo Kusinagi – Kyo returns and has his very familiar move set from KoF 2000 and on. He felt a bit slower than previous games but had better links and a few new moves added to his arsenal including a new variation of his 114 Shiki: Ara Gami combo. Kyo’s iconic Ura 108 Shiki: Orochi Nagi Dm returns and comes out faster, however, so does his 182 Shiki from KoF 99′ (my least favorite move to use). 
  • Iori Yagami – I’m pretty happy to see the true version of Iori Yagami return. While he was a DLC character in XIII, the character has only gotten a few upgrades including a more useful DM in Ura 108 Shiki: Ya Sakazuki, which before would release pillars that your opponent could just block while you stood there. This new version appears in a bubble-like form in front of them for a few seconds, letting you get in quickly. If it hits it does some nice damage.
  • Kula Diamond – While we wait for K’ to be announced, Kula feels exactly like she has in every previous game complete with mix-ups, reflection and her powerful ice skills to get in front of your opponents. Her One-Inch Punch can also stagger on a counter hit, making her just as dangerous as before.
  • Leona Heidern – Leona plays just like she did in KoF XIII. She’s very fast and a very safe character where she controls the space around her. Even if you whiff an attack, it’s very hard to punish her. Her range was lowered a bit, but it doesn’t stop her from being able to come in in a flash from either the ground or air.
  • Andy Bogard – Andy remains a very solid character. He plays like he did in KoF XIII and has a new move which lets him change direction in the air. His fireball is faster and his Zaneiken is hard to punish even on block, letting him rush in without worry.

There is still ways to go before the game is released, but so far I am pretty happy with how the game is turning out, aside from the aesthetics. If feels more like how the game did back in 2002 before the switching before the cancels. It’s a straight-out fighting game everyone can enjoy and pick up.

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