The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition - first impressions

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When it comes to the fighting game genre, it usually brings to mind titles like Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat; ones that have been around for decades, cementing their place in video game history. However, there’s a fighter that’s been around for just as long, and has an equally illustrious history: The King of Fighters. After all, if something is still around after 14 entries, then they’re definitely doing something right. Though The King of Fighters franchise has been overwhelmingly more popular in eastern territories as opposed to the west, the series has found a loyal niche here, especially in recent years.

With a fifteenth installment on the way at some point, despite facing an unfortunate delay this month, SNK isn’t quite fully ready to let go of The King of Fighters XIV yet, which released all the way back in 2016. This leads us to the recently released swan-song for the game in the form of The King of Fighters XIV: Ultimate Edition. Supposedly, this is the most feature-packed entry yet, and considering that KOF XIV Ultimate boasts a roster that consists of 58 different characters, I’m inclined to believe it.
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2D fighting games have never been my specialty—though I do have a soft spot in my heart for some of Arc System Works’ licensed games. Outside of that, I’m fairly fresh to the world of fighters, and that was made blatantly apparently the moment I glanced at the character selection screen. There’s a veritable army of characters to choose from, each with their own moves, specials, mechanics, and intricacies. It’s absolutely staggering to consider all the different play styles, ranges, and pertinent information professional players would need to keep in mind. Fortunately, new players won’t have to be that hardcore—and the tutorial system is of immense help when it comes to learning the basics.

SNK has decades of experience creating these types of games, and it truly shows when you get into the combat. Whereas Street Fighter has you pick a single character and go toe-to-toe for a few rounds, in King of Fighters, you pick a team of three fighters. These characters can't tag in or out like how some team-based fighters work, like in Dragon Ball FighterZ, but instead act as an extended health bar, in a way. The two teams of three will duke it out until one side is out of fighters, an easy enough concept. Your health will remain constant when a new round begins, but if you managed to score a K.O., you'll gain a slight bit back. It keeps things tense without being too frenetic or hard to follow.
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For the hardcore enthusiasts out there, it's worth noting that XIV operates on a delay-based netcode, and not rollback, the latter of which being considered as far preferable for online matches. Playing the game online through wifi worked fine in my case, with no weird stutters or noticeable lag, though a more discerning veteran might find faults where I didn't.

After thirteen prior installments, KOF XIV made a very major change to the formula, by replacing the traditional 2D sprites with 3D models on a 2D plane. Visually, it feels like a downgrade, but that doesn't mean KOF XIV looks bad. It's...different, but at the same time, the characters look distinct and pop against the background, their hitboxes are precise, and the animations are all exaggerated and over the top--exactly what you'd want from a fighting game developed in Japan. Interestingly, the original release of XIV suffered from such lackluster graphics that SNK had to completely revamp them in a patch sometime after launch. The Ultimate Edition utilizes these updated visuals, and it seems that their efforts to improve the game paid off.

As previously mentioned, KOF XIV Ultimate has a roster of 58 characters--yes, that wasn't a typo--which includes the original release's cast, along with each of the DLC characters that were released later on, along with ten costumes that were also released as paid DLC. SNK also crosses over some of its cast from other fighting games it's developed in the past, including Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury--otherwise known as "that one guy from Smash Bros.". There's a lot of variety to each of the 58 characters, especially the DLC ones, which I honestly found to be surprising; it'd be easy to assume that a lot of them would feel "samey" to play as, however, the combos and differing attacks felt individually defining.

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While I have no prior concept as to who these characters really are, I found myself enjoying their designs and finding out their respective “gimmicks”. Kyo’s attacks have lots of high kicks and long-reaching sweeps that can catch opponents off-guard. Terry is super weighty and needs to be up close to do the most damage. One of Ramon’s moves has you hilariously parkouring onto the chest of your opponent and majestically somersaulting back to the ground. Most of the DLC cast, such as Rock or Vanessa are also really fun to play as, even if I didn’t know what I was doing half the time. The story mode will help get you acquainted with all these faces, where you go from battle to battle to become, well, the King of Fighters. It works well as a way to jump in, play a bit, learn more of the game’s systems, and take a break, as does the mission mode for when you’re a little more experienced.

And really, if you weren’t interested yet, there’s just a guy called The King of Dinosaurs, and he fights in a giant dinosaur costume. What else more do you need from a video game?

Where the game really takes things to the extreme is in its combos. Light attacks chain into heavy ones, and when your gauge is high enough, you can pull off all sorts of specials, supers, climax moves, or go into a Max Mode, where your attacks become even more damaging, flashy, and show-stopping. Once more, the tutorial is nothing short of amazing in terms of helping you know what buttons do what on screen, but KOF has so many things, it's difficult to comprehend. That's both its greatest weakness and strength.

I doubt I'll ever come close to mastering the gameplay of King of Fighters XIV, but as someone who has always wanted to experience SNK's super-influential fighter, I'm glad to have started with this game. A lot of the deeper mechanics are out of my grasp for now, but it's a blast to play casually. The Ultimate Edition is clearly an easy way of getting fans to reinvigorate the same old game that's been around for years now, but at the same time, it's a wonderful jumping-off point for newcomers, and if you're a lapsed fan, you'll have an endless amount of catching up to do when it comes to trying out all the new fighters you might have missed in the past. Less octane-fueled that Arc System Works' games, but more exotic than your run-of-the-mill everyday Street Fighter, King of Fighters XIV: Ultimate Edition is an easy recommendation to anyone interested in 2D fighting games.
 

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cvskid

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Oh right, it came out today... digital only. No disc. No steam listing either. :blink:



Did you not see Street fighter 3? :blink:
Most special attacks have lots of animation frames. :ninja:


Don't do it, mastering this game is a DEEEEEEEPPPPP RABBIT HOLE you don't want to go fall into. Your thumb will get blisters, and you will not want to know how to do Raging Storm or Deadly Rave... Or a Climax Cancel combo. Or look up tutorial videos on youtube. You'll hate yourself trust me. :ph34r:
Gotta import from europe if you want a physical ps4 copy of ultimate edition. In general this wasn't even worth reviewing to be honest. Kof14 is one of the easier kof games to learn so it's a good starting point. kof 2002 and kof 13 are much harder to learn by comparison.

It's the exact same game as kof 14 that has been out for a while just with all the DLC being on the disc. For digital format this makes no difference at all since all the dlc has been available for years at this point. Just a simple rerelease and nothing more. No netcode fix, no balance changes, nothing.
 
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Sonic Angel Knight

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Gotta import from europe if you want a physical ps4 copy of ultimate edition. In general this wasn't even worth reviewing to be honest.
Does that work? I thought that when you buy games from different regions, you needed a console for that game to work properly. I heard stories of people importing games and consoles from japan to play the games early. :blink:

Its the exact same game as kof 14 that has been out for a while just with all the DLC being on the disc. For digital format this makes no difference at all since all the dlc has been available for years at this point. Just a simple rerelease and nothing more. No netcode fix, no balance changes, nothing.
Quite true, but now is the complete package for discounted price of $40 Plus everything on disc. So if the digital market ever delist such things, a complete edition mastered on disc saves the day. :P

To someone who already had it for years is nothing. To new people who want to try it now it stimulates more players to buy it with a reduced price and all content. Which also mean more people to play with than before if they do buy.

I know is not the "We made adjustments to online so it's more playable" edition. Is the "Capcom presents five versions of street fighter 2 AGAIN" approach that it seems to go with. But let's just hope that netplay changes in the next game for better. Is not like they haven't been exploring that idea with the older games. (They did say KOF 2002 UM port to ps4 will have rollback) :ninja:

To be honest, after capcom announcing Season 5 dlc for Street Fighter V, I'm waiting and hoping it's going to go through the phases. Then get a complete edition ported to next gen, and then just buy. Capcom said they decided to continue due to sales boost from the last Re-Release, so either we goofed up buying more copies prolonging Street Fighter 6. Or they goofed with more pressure to port to PS5 and release a complete edition.

At the same time I'm happy and sad. Happy for the sales and the discount, but said I didn't wait long enough for it to matter to me. Or you know, can just buy it just for the support of the dev, and give away copy to a friend to play with. :rolleyes:

This is the only popular fighting game series I haven’t played yet, hopefully this is a good stepping stone
When you say stepping stone, I hope you don't mean easy or accessible. KOF XIV is a stepping stone... into hardcore beat downs for the unprepared. When compared to other games, get ready to get blisters with awkward motions to perform special attacks and execution to perform the most damaging combos. Unless you're playing with other noobs, that's what you'll be needing to do to stand a chance. The older games had less focus on combos or cancels to do damage since at the time, combos was taboo or not figured out yet when it came to balancing for fair competition. :ninja:

If you want a game that focus on satisfying single hard hitting strikes, Samurai Shodown is probably the way to go. Is not a game focus on combos... more like fencing... or kendo. Lots of clashing weapons. Or if you own a Nintendo switch, play one of the neo geo pocket games they have. It's more novelty but also just as engaging for single player experience. (But it also feature two players) :P
 

cvskid

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Does that work? I thought that when you buy games from different regions, you needed a console for that game to work properly. I heard stories of people importing games and consoles from japan to play the games early. :blink:


Quite true, but now is the complete package for discounted price of $40 Plus everything on disc. So if the digital market ever delist such things, a complete edition mastered on disc saves the day. :P

To someone who already had it for years is nothing. To new people who want to try it now it stimulates more players to buy it with a reduced price and all content. Which also mean more people to play with than before if they do buy.

I know is not the "We made adjustments to online so it's more playable" edition. Is the "Capcom presents five versions of street fighter 2 AGAIN" approach that it seems to go with. But let's just hope that netplay changes in the next game for better. Is not like they haven't been exploring that idea with the older games. (They did say KOF 2002 UM port to ps4 will have rollback) :ninja:

To be honest, after capcom announcing Season 5 dlc for Street Fighter V, I'm waiting and hoping it's going to go through the phases. Then get a complete edition ported to next gen, and then just buy. Capcom said they decided to continue due to sales boost from the last Re-Release, so either we goofed up buying more copies prolonging Street Fighter 6. Or they goofed with more pressure to port to PS5 and release a complete edition.

At the same time I'm happy and sad. Happy for the sales and the discount, but said I didn't wait long enough for it to matter to me. Or you know, can just buy it just for the support of the dev, and give away copy to a friend to play with. :rolleyes:
Ps4 is region free. Just dlc is region locked so you would need to make an account to match the games region you bought to buy that regions dlc. Kof 2002um ps4 port is getting rollback netcode due to the pc/steam version having a beta test and proper release for it.

I'm also hoping sfv gets a complete edition but every physical release for sfv so far that has had dlc characters its just the base game on the disc and a digital code for dlc characters which is no good, especially if its a used copy then it's worthless. kof 14 is rewarding if you are willing to stick with it. I promise you kof 14 is not as hard as you are making it out to be.
 
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Sonic Angel Knight

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Ps4 is region free. Just dlc is region locked so you would need to make an account to match the games region you bought to buy that regions dlc
Oh, okay then. So if the europe disc has all content on disc, and not a code (Like street fighter V champion edition) then I shouldn't have to worry about downloading anything. Good to know. Is like a slap to the face. "Game isn't region locked, but DLC is region locked." Silly drm. :blink:

Kof 2002um ps4 port is getting rollback netcode due to the pc/steam version having a beta test and proper release for it.
I'm happy about this, now people will not complain anymore. I'm only complaining cause is not on the switch. Even neo geo games on vita got updated, and cross platform play online with ps4. But all we got is those $8 arcade archive games with no online multiplayer, and the $8 neo geo pocket games with no online multiplayer. They are excellent sells with great emulation and not being expensive, but I wouldn't mind paying $10 or 15 for being able to play online. :ninja:

I'm also hoping sfv gets a complete edition but every physical release for sfv so far that has had dlc characters its just the base game on the disc and a digital code for dlc characters which is no good, especially if its a used copy then it's worthless. kof 14 is rewarding if you are willing to stick with it.
This was probably the only bad thing about the re-release. I can only assume they did this cause of how their game uses that capcom network thingy to keep track of things. I haven't seen other games do it so that's probably it. Not sure honestly. :unsure:

I promise you kof 14 is not as hard as you are making it out to be.
Lol, it's okay. I'm only goofing. I played the games before. Only hard thing about them are the cheap bosses you fight. (But that was every neo geo game) Lots of people like it and It's due to charming characters, presentation, and gameplay design. But every so often, you'll find a fighting game that seems overwhelming and you don't know what to say.

Could it be cause there too many characters to choose from? The character you picked has too many moves to memorize? Or doing some of them just doesn't jive with how your thumbs work. (Raging storm & Deadly Rave is calling for you)

Or you saw some combo videos or tournaments on youtube and couldn't keep up with all the "Mach 5" speed action? Well whatever the reason is for feeling like is hard, let's hope you didn't find the youtube video where they do the infinite combos. :creep:
 

Silent_Gunner

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Hi guys. I am thinking about getting this game, but I have a quick question before proceeding. I read in the Review that there are 58 Characters/Fighters? Are they all available from the start, or are some of them unlockable? Thoughts and help appreciated :)

There's some DLC, which I think includes being able to play as the final boss in one of those packs. IDK so much about the console version, as KOF2002UM and KOF98UM, on console, don't have the bosses unlocked from the start. But on PC, they're already unlocked...not that I'm complaining.

But otherwise, most of the non-boss characters are unlocked from the start as is usual with KOF games! :)

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

I still love my 2D fighters... Not sure I like 2.5 really.... I found this little gem this week


Street Fighter 2 deluxe
Has ever 2D fighters in one game from all the classics you can think of from Capcom to Neo Geo ect ect.....

Ah, a MUGEN fullgame...something I could probably put together from what I've seen of that roster and all of the ways they don't necessarily fit together in terms of gameplay styles, fighting systems, etc..
 
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eyeliner

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King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match. The game has 7 bosses. Krizalid, Clone Zero, Original Zero, Igniz, Geese, Goenitz, Rugal, and I have a feeling there's one more I forgot in all that.
Couldn't get to grips with that one. After 98 the saga became increasingly unappealing to me, though it's making me interested in it again.
 

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Even not being as beautiful as XIII (the best of the series in my opinion, followed closely by XI, '02UM and 98UM), it's still a great game.

It's even better as they aren't just "dumbing down" the game to attract newcomers like every other fighting game from nowadays. It's mission mode is really robust, and the effort to learn about the game's mechanics really pays off. It's always good to see the good old SNK doing what they do best.

King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match. The game has 7 bosses. Krizalid, Clone Zero, Original Zero, Igniz, Geese, Goenitz, Rugal, and I have a feeling there's one more I forgot in all that.

IIRC, it's Nightmare Geese.
 
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