King of Fighters 15 is a strong, albeit safe, entry in the series, with some minor tweaks to help newbies get started while still providing enthusiasts with fresh ways to punish their opponents.
If you’ve been around for decades, spanning multiple systems and generations, you should have figured out what works for you by now. King of Fighters, which was first released in 1994, is well aware of the type of game it is and intends to be. Sure, subsequent instalments have added new characters, systems, and some catchy soundtracks, but the game’s fundamental three-on-three gameplay remains strong after all these time.
King of Fighters 15 is no exception, and it includes all of that, as well as several new fighters and improvements aimed at making the franchise more approachable to newbies. But don’t get the wrong idea: this game still has a stiff learning curve and few single-player options. KOF XV is worth your time if you have the time to understand all of the complexities, combos, and skills that each character provides to your squad.
1.NO MORE STORIES
KOF XV, like any other arcade classic, is a fighting game designed for multiplayer play, hence its single-player features are minimal at best. Little has been done to improve the game’s main story, which still feels odd after fighting titles like Guilty Gear Strive had their story mode removed and replaced with an entertaining short film. This mode is nothing more than a series of bouts against AI-controlled teams leading up to the ultimate boss, who, in true KOF form, won’t go down until you’ve defeated him several times.
While specific characters’ unique chats will occasionally occur at the start of a battle, story mode seems like you’re merely going through the motions of utilizing each of the game’s teams to get to the end and witness their special ending. And after you get to the conclusion, you’ll notice that it’s simply a few still cutscenes with text to read and bits of questionable humor that aren’t that funny. To say the least, it’s a letdown and one of the game’s weak points.
- An impressive roster featuring classic and new fighters
- Smooth netcode offers a lag-free online experience
- Improved visuals, lighting, and visual effects.
- Story mode is an afterthought
- The usual experience.
Your efforts will not go unnoticed, as the game rewards you for completing narrative mode by unlocking entire soundtracks, sounds, and video clips. Its DJ Station lets you choose which iconic tunes you want to play in each stage, and it has one of the largest selections of KOF music in any game to date. The music from Fatal Fury and Metal Slug is also included, providing a nostalgic treat for any SNK fan.
2.FIGHTERS WITH STYLE:
Many series classics like Joe, Terry, and Athena, as well as characters we haven’t seen in a while like Chizuru, Chris, and Yashiro, will appear among the 39 characters on the roster. Dolores, Isla, and Krohnen are three new characters who bring new move sets and playstyles to the ensemble.
The game looks better than KOF XIV in terms of visuals, and it’s as near as it’ll get to duplicating the game’s iconic pixelated models while staying true to its new 2.5D design. Characters have better graphics, improved color, and animations that have been reworked from XIV or previous games, and they appear like they belong on the stages you battle on. Stages are now more attractive, with a variety of lighting effects to bring your bouts to life. Even certain moves appear to be more flashy and lively in general.
Perhaps one of the reasons why KOF is so complex is that its characters have long move lists that usually involve pulling off a move to then lead into a different one meaning your combos will often rely on planning your moves before just inputting the command you want. Challenge mode lets you practice these combos and its tutorial lets you learn the basics of the game, but aside from this, you are on your own when figuring out how to successfully use a character until you pick them, learn them, and master their moves.
Not to mention, KOF will require you to do this for each fighter you pick for your team so it adds to this complexity. Add to this a bevy of quarter circle and half-circle commands, and you will have your work cut out for you when learning a character. It’s a tough, but rewarding system as you have plenty of amazing fighters to choose from.
Those familiar with KOF 15’s battle system will feel right at home as the game feels similar but does offer some additions to diversify how to approach enemies and link attacks. Shatter Strike, for example, is like the Focus Attack in Street Fighter 4 and allows you to absorb a hit and start a combo if you know what moves to link. It’s a rewarding new way to get the edge on an opponent and requires less power meter than a Quick Max combo but scales down the damage you do a lot more. Of course, you will need to figure out when the best time is to use one and determine the pros and cons on the fly, further adding another layer of strategy and technicality to your matches.
King of Fighters 15 is a notable improvement over its predecessor, providing another traditional SNK experience with some added changes that make the game feel new without being drastically different. Sure, it’s a safe decision, but it keeps what makes the game such a classic arcade experience while also providing novices with something to help them ease into the series’ intricacy. Although its single-player game is sorely lacking, KOF 15’s seamless net code and rewarding fighting system ensure that it will be a community hit for those who put in the effort to master it.