LifeisXbox’s The King Of Fighters XV review | Fighting games are a weird genre for me. Whereas most people play them for the local and online multiplayer, I’m usually the solo type of guy and I just try and get all of the different characters endings in the main campaign. My go-to titles have always been Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Street Fighter, but some of my friends had high praise for The King of Fighter series and told me I should give it a shot.
Well, this is me, giving it a shot! Let’s see how the SNK fighting game fairs…
Most Memorable Moment
I’m not much of a fighting game expert, but there were a few moments where I could feel the thrill of putting up a decent show versus more experienced players online. It’s always exciting if you can make a last-second comeback from the brink of defeat. Sadly, it usually happened the other way around.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by Koch Media Benelux, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we Liked!
- Huge cast of characters | The King of Fighters series has a huge history behind it and it’s not surprise that they’ve managed to line up a considerable amount of playable characters. In KOF XV you can play with teams of 3v3 and there are 39 fighters to pick from, each with their own playstyles and special abilities. Mastering these is by far the biggest draw to the game and you’ll be spending hours with them in the arena.
- Fan Service | I wish there was a way to list this as a positive and not come out looking like a pervert, but I really did enjoy the female characters in this game. Yes, I realise they are depicted as overly sexualised, but there is a target audience out there for this and if it helps sell a few games, what’s the harm? For the people in the other camp looking for some male hunks to ogle: rest assured, KOF XV has those too!
- Visually impressive | While the graphics didn’t make my jaw drop, it seems like a huge step up from the previous entries and the style lends itself perfectly for a fighter. The 3D characters move and behave much like you would expect from a 2D animated fighter and the camera moves in to showcase special attacks in a nice way. There’s also something to the subtle outline around characters that I found very appealing.
- The Arenas | The arenas have a lot going on in the background and I was constantly on the lookout for details, like how there were cats in the Provence level all going about their lives. My favourite by far is the Metal Slug arena though, mostly because it has a high nostalgic factor for me and I could really appreciated all the winks and nudges to the typical elements found in that series. Sadly though these stages are only here for the eye candy and you can’t interact with them in any meaningfull way. That’s one of the parts where games like Mortal Kombat have spoiled me, and there are more of those to come.
- Tight Gameplay | It took some time for me to get the hang of the various unique gameplay mechanics and also to learn each character’s hitboxes, but once you get a feel for it, the gameplay is very responsive and immensely satisfying. Using the charged Max Mode bar at the right time gives you some ways to come back from a tough spot and there is also a roll/dodge move that gives you some invincibility frames but comes with the risk of opening yourself up right after.
- Respecting player skill | Unexperienced fighters will love to hear this, but you can turn down the AI difficulty and if that’s posing any kind of issues still, you can re-attempt any story fighter with modifiers like an increased Max Mode bar for you and decreased enemy HP. This makes the game approachable for even the biggest fighting game “noobs” out there (I count myself among them).
- Character Customisation | I may have been spoiled by other fighters, but because these character designs are so fantastic, I would have really loved being able to customise my favourite ones with accessories or different outfits. The only thing you can change here is their color palette.
- The voice acting | The KOF XV has an english sportscaster but all the other voices are in Japanese. As a huge anime fan I obviously didn’t mind this, but I found a few mismatched voices that really didn’t fit the character. Like adult, muscular women with upbeat voices from young Japanese teens. There’s also the usual trappings of overacted performances, but that’s somewhat expected. Speaking of Anime, I would sure appreciate a KOF show after seeing this spectacular promotional movie:
- The Music | There is a large selection of music in the game and you can unlock more songs by reaching certain goals, like beating the story mode with a specific team. You can then customise your own playlist and choose what plays in the Main Menu or the Online Lobby, which is a nice touch. The actual offering of music has highs & lows however, while there were 2-3 songs I could really appreciate, the majority had monotous loops and I could even spot a few songs where they downright ripped the riffs and instrumental openings from popular music.
- Character Intros | Another section where games like Mortal Kombat have spoiled me. KOF XV has character intro’s, but they’re not as dynamic (changing depending on the opponent) as in other recent fighters. You also see them way less frequently and they don’t have the same witty, memorable one-liners. That’s too bad, because this is one of the main methods to add charisma to your list of fighters.
- Tutorial | While KOF XV shows you HOW to use all of the techniques, it doesn’t do a very good job of explaing them or why they’re important at critical moments. Again, not something I’d have paid much attention to myself, as I’m not a very competitive player, but other games in the genre have done a much better job at teaching me to get better.
What we Disliked
- The Story mode | The story mode feels tacked on and hardly worth your time to beat more than once, outside of the music unlocks I mentioned before. There are only 6 regular 3v3 fights and 2 boss battles in a single run and you can beat it in about 30 minutes tops.
- Character Endings | Usually beating the story mode with different characters gives you their unique motivations and a bit of closure on what happened to them after the big fight, and while KOF XV has these, they are only when you play with a predefined 3-person team and it’s just a still image or two with narration. My first unlocked ending was just a still visual of a game staring at a computer screen and reading his report out lout.
- Audio bugs| I’ve had a few instances where the sound effects of my moves didn’t sync up with what was shown on screen and in worse cases I even had the punch effects looping during the “victory” screen.
- Visual bugs | While these were few and far between, I did spot a few visual bugs too. The most offputting of which was the physics being applied to female breasts at the start of a match. I know you want me to pay attention to them, SNK, but literally dropping them at the start of a fight from the characters chin-level to showcase the jiggle physics is maybe crossing a line.
- Main Menu | I know this may seem like a weird thing to nitpick, but I was a bit disappointed with a main menu that is basically just text slapped on an image. There are many possible ways to use this better and highlight the great art that exists for the game and it’s a wasted opportunity not to use it there.
How long to beat the story | Half an hour
How long to achieve the full 1000G | ~20-25 hours (estimate)
Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.