When I downloaded the demo for the King of Fighters XIV, I was not impressed. They gave us 3 returning characters and 3 new characters, and the returning characters weren’t ones that I cared too much for. And it wasn’t even the characters, it just seemed… I don’t know, clunky. Therefore I was a little skeptical about even purchasing XIV. That said, I am a King of Fighters fan and my friend convinced me it may be better with the full roster, so I went for it.

With the full character roster, I’m happy with what we’ve got. I can now play as some of my favorites, although a number of cool characters that I wish were present are missing… Primarily Whip, Vanessa, Blue Mary, Shermie, and May Lee. At any rate, there are 50 characters: 32 returners and 18 newcomers. Some of the newcomers are hit or miss, however, like the straight-out-of a 14 year old’s Deviant Art Shun’ei and his headphones, beads, and asymmetrical design… He’s a miss. That said, Mian, the mask-wearing kung-fu girl who switches her mask whenever her face is hidden, is a really neat character design with a pretty great moveset.

The mechanics are a little dumbed down from other KoF games, but this is a good thing, I think, as some mechanics in other KoFs seemed a little convoluted, in my opinion. That said, I don’t have too much of a grasp on the more technical techniques, like canceling special moves into super moves, but after clearing the story mode a few times, I wonder if it may be too easy to super cancel. Another qualm I have is the new Rush mechanic. It seems all fighting games these days are adding in something like this in an attempt to make combos more accessible for newcomers, but in my opinion, it kind of takes away. In short, mash Square when you’re close to someone and you’ll auto-combo and even end in a super if you have enough special gauge to do so. If not, you’ll end in a normal special move. I feel like it kind of trivializes trying to learn new combos and things, as you know that this mechanic will guarantee decent damage and is incredibly easy to perform; just wait for an opening. The other mechanics are pretty straightforward; 1 gauge for a super move, 2 gauges for an even stronger version of that super by pressing both buttons, or 3 gauges for a climax move, which deals nearly half of the opponent’s HP. Finally, you can activate MAX mode with 1 gauge which enables you to use EX special moves by using both buttons in your command.

The story mode is pretty much a joke, the story is not really interesting, and the sub and final bosses are complete pushovers in comparison to other KoF bosses. However, I’d rather the bosses be pushovers, because some of the bosses in prior KoFs are unrelenting torrents of misery and hate. In fact, the only way to really beat some of those bosses was to find a move that the boss’s AI wasn;t sure how to deal with and just ship away. Luckily, the bosses in XIV are, a bit overpowered, but definitely fair. All of this being said, I still enjoyed the sub-boss’s personality (and cigars).

I haven’t touched any of the other modes, like mission, time trial, survival, and online, so I can’t give a full review, just this first impression post. All in all, I’m happy with the new King of Fighters. I can’t wait to play with some of my friends and get their opinions on it too.

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What do you think of the new King of Fighters, or the series in general? Which characters do you miss? Comment and tell me about it!