It has been a long time since the last license plate title SNK made its debut on PS4 and PC: it was August 2016 and something in the fighting game line was already changing; specifically, there was a renewed attention to content, in the form of a decidedly more full-bodied, multifaceted and long-lived story mode.
However, The King of Fighters XIV did not intercept this trend, anchoring itself to an old-style arcade mode, with all its limitations, and showing the signs of a technical realization below expectations, the result of an unfortunate transition from the splendid two-dimensional sprites that they have always characterized the franchise with polygonal models with an often generic design.
Well, four and a half years later the game comes back up PlayStation 4 with a definitive edition that includes the improvements made so far and eight extra characters: basically the same version that has been available on Steam for some time.
Was it worth the wait so long, especially considering that this year we will see the launch of the new chapter of the series? And is the price of this version adequate for the content offered? We tell you in the review di The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition.
Let's start with the good news: on the gameplay there is very little to complain about The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition: as reported in the review of the original version, we are talking about a fighting game full of depth and technicalities, very precise in its mechanics and collisions, with an excellent enhancement of the impact and therefore of an undoubted personality.
To speak here is obviously the long history of the series, which in the second half of the 90s practically dictated the law in the arcade thanks not only to its amazing crossover nature, able to bring together all the characters of the various franchises in a single experience. SNK, but also and above all to a combat system very solid, able to satisfy both newbies and experienced players, based on how you decided to approach the experience.
The developers have granted something to less savvy users, see the simplified combo (Rush Mode) which, however, shows great limits in competitive areas of a certain level, but in general we are faced with a fighting game that lends itself to various interpretations: from the classic game with simple and special shots, always very spectacular and effective, to the more complex concatenations and devastating.
The execution of special moves, super moves and the so-called Climax is regulated by a renewed system of indicators, which as per tradition are filled by inflicting damage on opponents and parrying their blows. However, there is also room for further facets between cancel and boost, confirming how complete the system developed by SNK is.
Finding yourself in command of the various Kyo Kusanagi, Terry Bogard or Ryo Sakazaki is like putting on a comfortable dress: they are characters reliable as a Swiss watch and even in this new edition they do not reserve any surprises, providing old fans with a solid starting point. Then there are the new entries, starting with the Chinese protagonist Shun'ei to get to the various Alice Nakata, Bandeiras Hattori, Kukri, Nelson and Zarina.
Although some aesthetic choices are perplexing, there is no doubt that the characterization of these new figures also boasts precise peculiarities, distinctive traits that give personality to the fighters: an aspect that is then strongly reaffirmed when you go to check their repertoire of moves, very much varied and convincing.
Staying on the subject, the Ultimate Edition is mainly characterized by the presence of eight extra characters, although only one of them is in its first appearance: the Arab warrior Najd. The rest are returns from the past, see Blue Mary, Ryuji Yamazaki, Rock Howard, Heidern, Whip, Vanessa and Oswald: often secondary figures, who had been missing for years and that the developers wanted to recover for the occasion.
So let's talk about a roster composed of the beauty of 58 fighters, all interesting, which guarantees this edition an extraordinary variety and degree of replayability. Too bad that nothing has changed in terms of final bosses: at the end of the story mode we will always have to face the wrestler Antonov and the supernatural entity Verse.
Unfortunately, the Ultimate Edition of The King of Fighters XIV does not add structural content, therefore the roster of mode the one we already knew remains available: a generic story mode, with small additional cutscenes depending on the characters used; an online sector that includes the classic one-on-one but also variations on the theme such as Party Mode, for up to twelve participants; and then survival, versus, timed challenge, tutorial and training, all quite traditional.
Of course, the longevity of the game depends in this case on the breadth and variety of the roster, which as mentioned is quite rich and interesting, with few new entry well but many welcome returns from the past of the series; and it certainly also depends on competitive online, which during our tests proved to be generally stable, although not very populated.
PlayStation 4 Trophies
Where a part of the trophies of The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition is related to simply completing the story and obtaining collectibles, the bulk of the achievements can only be obtained by taking the time to practice, perform special moves, completion tutorials and tests, as well as of course the online component.
La technical realization undoubtedly remains the least successful aspect of the game, which has lost a lot of personality in the transition from 2D to 3D graphics. The quality of the polygonal models leaves something to be desired, appears dated and in several cases the translation from the original design to the new one highlights a substantial loss of details that makes the fighters' faces very generic.
Clearly this factor weighs even more over four years after the original release: the idea that such an experienced and talented development team found itself starting over in the approach to polygon graphics is equally sad and inexplicable, to all the more reason considering how the gameplay has instead been faithfully translated.
- scenery, also a characterizing trait of the series, as well as of SNK fighting games in general, alternate evocative and detailed landscapes with frankly modest solutions, sometimes made even more unhappy by the use of ugly textures. Even here, however, the numbers allow for a recovery in extremis: the game includes eighteen settings in addition to the gym.
Little to say, however, on the colonna sonora and the audio sector in general, which can count on some rather rhythmic and engaging music, perfectly functional to the action that is shown on the screen, together with the classic Japanese phrases during the execution of the special moves.
CommentTested version PlayStation 4 Digital Delivery PlayStation Store Price 39,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition is the complete version of the latest SNK fighting game, immediately equipped with eight extra characters and therefore with a roster that is further enriched. Playing with it is still a pleasure, net of a relatively poor structure and a technical sector that remains modest. The big problem, however, is timing: with the fifteenth chapter around the corner and the basic edition almost always in promotion for a few pennies, who will spend € 39,99 for this definitive edition?
- Really rich roster
- The gameplay remains solid and delightful
- King's shirt tears again, yes
- It arrives out of time and costs too much
- The transition from 2D to 3D was anything but painless
- Few content compared to current standards