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Review: The King of Fighters XV (PlayStation 4)By Azuardo At 09.08.2022 13:00

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Sticking with the format of KOF XIV was always going to be the way forward for SNK when developing The King of Fighters XV. The 2.5D style is where many sprite-designed fighting games of the past have moved towards, with perhaps the most well-known being Street Fighter in recent years, which has turned its back on its old look for good. The unfortunate side of this is that other developers are trying to emulate the same aesthetic, and it doesn't always come off.

This is what happened with KOF XIV, and although KOF XV is a marked improvement in terms of its visuals, there is something just rather bland and unappealing about the character models here. Backgrounds are not as detailed, which is par for the course, but that only contrasts with the characters further. The fighters themselves are presentable enough, but this chunky, plasticky style automatically defaults into cheaper Street Fighter territory.

The roster of 40 characters is very respectable, though, and ensures series fans will have a favourite or two to play as without having to dip into paying for extra content right away, with SNK bringing back a handful of killed-off fighters (it doesn't have to make sense). Naturally, plenty of DLC characters are available, with more to come, but this support can also be seen as a positive sign of SNK making sure KOF XV remains active in its online and local scenes in the years ahead.

The online side of things is great, too, with casual, ranked and lobby matches ready and waiting to tuck into, as well as online training rooms, plus leaderboards for not just ranked matches, but the story and boss challenges, also. Lots of settings to play with and some excellent rollback netcode deserve big credit. Hardcore fans will have a brilliant time here.

The more casual or less experienced player not as interested in diving into online - at least, not right away - may find themselves a little disappointed and overwhelmed, however. The story mode is effectively an arcade mode, with eight battles in the familiar 3 vs. 3 format, save for the boss battles at the end. Minimal cutscenes, a boring plotline, and substandard ending sequences with image stills to wrap things up make for an overall poor "story" mode, which feels too similar to what was in KOF XIV.

Standard versus modes (including 3 vs. 3 and 1 vs. 1 battles for both normal and tournament style matches), training (with plenty of customisation options), combo challenges for each character, and tutorials that go over the basic movement and attacking options round off the bulk of what is on offer. It's pretty bog-standard stuff, but that lack of depth for tutorials and anything more than the usual modes is what may make the more casual player shy away. Good music customisation exists, but the inability to alter the horrible menu colours and tiny text is frustrating.

There is plenty of depth when it comes to the actual fighting, and a bigger emphasis on using max meters for special moves in the neutral game means they aren't being saved for combo lengtheners as much as in KOF XIV. Matches flow quickly and are always entertaining given the 3 vs. 3 setup, but as mentioned, with 1 vs. 1 traditional bouts an option, there is something that caters to any KOF fan here. KOF XV does feel like it teeters more towards the hardcore franchise lover much more than being as welcome to newbies, though, and that aforementioned limited tutorial is bound to have an affect on whether those that give this latest entry a try will end up sticking the course before moving onto another title.

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Final Score
As a brand-new mainline entry that follows the previous iteration after over five years, [i]The King of Fighters XV[/i] feels a little "by the numbers" in a similar way to how [i]Dead or Alive 6[/i] didn't push on from [i]DOA5[/i]. Everything is too familiar, too safe, and lacking those key elements that truly give the impression of the next proper game in the series. The 3D character models still look a bit out of place, the story mode is awful, and there isn't enough done to ease newcomers in. Solid online modes and a large roster, with the addition of cross-play to look forward to, mean there is plenty to like for series fans, though.

6

/10

User Comments
#1 Dragon0085 - on 10.08.2022 at 00:34

i dislike that CGI look to the characters.  Sprites are by far the best looking, but apparently pretty rare.

#2 Azuardo - on 10.08.2022 at 09:44

Same. I miss the KOF13 look.


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