With King of Fighters XIV releasing at the end of August and the demo recently hitting the PlayStation Network and, having been a bit mixed on its reveal but remaining optimistic, I want to talk about how great the demo is.
I personally didn’t like King of Fighters XIII as I thought that it felt a clunky and not quite as fluid as other series’ in the genre, but XIV has put those worries to rest here with a fresh, new take on the series that is much welcomed. There are 7 playable characters in the demo consisting of Mai, Sylvie Sylvie Paula (who definitely has inspiration from J-Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – check her out, she’s great!), Kyo, Iori, Nelson, Shun’ei and the King of Dinosaurs. You can choose to play as a team of 3 or solo and I spent most of my time with Mai, with my team usually consisting or Mai, Sylvie and Shun’ei – their character designs appealed to me, and thankfully so did their playstyles! There are also 4 stages to pick from.
King of Fighters XIV is, like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, a more easily accessible series where long, flashy combos aren’t quite as prevalent as they are in the likes of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. That’s not to say that the depth isn’t there because it clearly is, and chances are if you battle off against someone who has mastered their chosen characters whereas you haven’t, then they’ll be likely to exploit that as they’ll know where a character’s openings are, when they’re most vulnerable and when they’re leading into specific combos. King of Fighters XIV has auto-combos, like a lot of other fighting games do now, where you can mash square and it’ll lead into a series of attacks that ends with a special attack, assuming your power gauge has at least one bar filled. I like this function but it doesn’t work very well against other players who are aware of it, and using your special attacks rather than building them up for when you truly need them, or for your climax skill, can be a huge mistake that sees you doing less damage than you character is capable of – of course, you might miss and find yourself looking at a loss screen.
The main game will have 50 playable characters and if these 7 are anything to go by, then my worry that it’ll have several similar characters or that they’ll fail to feel individual from one another has been put to rest. Shun’ei is a speedy character who’s abilities allow him to quickly close gaps and zone in on his opponent, whilst Mai’s moves give her more range and safety. Each character can use ‘max mode’ which allows them to use EX moves, which are stronger versions of your normal abilities, for a short while and can only be activated once you have one full bar in your power gauge. There isn’t a lot to do in the game bar fighting the CPU,or playing locally with someone else, a tutorial and training mode, but it’s given me faith that King of Fighters XIV will be a great game that I’m eagerly awaiting.
As you’ve probably noticed from the trailers and screenshots that Deep Silver and Atlus have been releasing, it’s quite easy to see that King of Fighters XIV isn’t the most graphically impressive game to grace PS4. Thankfully, it looks far better now than it did when it was initially revealed, and I’m satisfied with how it looks and it performs at a smooth, solid 60fps. I find that button inputs demand a greater sense of timing and input than some other games do but it isn’t difficult to nail it down, so hopefully the online netcode will be stable enough to lessen the chances of any lag.
The demo is a small taste of what’s to come and it’s bursting with colour, personality and fun that I’m finding myself thinking about the release of the full game daily, and with it releasing on 23rd August in North America, 25th in Japan and 26th in Europe, it’s bound to be an enjoyable experience that’ll see the community battling each other worldwide as much of the world are seeing the game release within the same week. The demo, along with a free dynamic theme, is available on PSN right now and I recommend that you download it because you may be pleasantly surprised. As someone who wasn’t a big King of Fighters fan, King of Fighters XIV is succeeding in changing that.