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What The Critics Are Saying About King Of Fighters 15

When it comes to fighting games, it's hard to deny series like "Mortal Kombat," "Tekken," or "Street Fighter" their places at the top of the heap, but a strong case can be made for "The King of Fighters" as well. Dating back to its first release in 1994, the first iteration of "King of Fighters" was an arcade exclusive that achieved respectable popularity in a saturated fighting game market. Since its early days, "King of Fighters" made its way to consoles and carved out its own niche audience, despite having some stiff competition.

Following a five-year hiatus since releasing "The King of Fighters 14" in 2016, Japanese developer SNK has finally released a follow-up, "The King of Fighters 15," which is available for the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and the Xbox Series X|S. While the 15th installment in the "King of Fighters" series hasn't ventured far from its roots, it has made forward strides to build upon its already strong foundation, such as implementing Unreal Engine 4, a first for the series (via GameFocus). But will small innovations like this be enough to endear the product to gamers? With the game now available for public consumption, here's what critics have to say about "King of Fighters 15."

King of Fighters 15 doesn't stray far from its original formula

A common thread among critics in evaluating "King of Fighters 15" has been that the game doesn't stray far from its simple roots — for better or worse. Mitchell Saltzman of IGN says that the game "plays it safe" and that, despite the graphical improvements brought about by the implementation of Unreal Engine 4, the game "never really reaches beyond that in an attempt to take the series to the next level." Even if the game lacks in the way of innovation, Saltzman did acknowledge that longtime fans of the series would be most satisfied with the experience.

Connor Makar of VGC247, however, was completely in favor of the game sticking to what it knows best and catering to the people who will go out of their way to play it. "Playing KoF 15, I recall one of my favorite memories – one where I spent multiple hours playing fighting games at an arcade during a trip to Japan," Makar said in his review. Makar lauded the game for avoiding making wholesale changes to its formula to cater to new players and for "staying true to its identity[.]" Matt Leone of Polygon echoed similar sentiments, saying that the series' trajectory has been "fairly consistent" and that SNK's "willingness to continually introduce new protagonists has built the series into something unique," implying the combat in "King of Fighters" series can remain fairly similar game to game so long as it adds in enough of a variety of characters to keep things fresh.

King of Fighters 15 seems to have a lack of engaging single-player content

While SNK's commitment to satisfying longtime fans by sticking to what it knows best, the lack of content in "King of Fighters 15" could prevent it from being an engaging title in the long term. While DeAngelo Epps of Digital Trends mostly praised the gameplay and mechanics in "King of Fighters 15," he also noted its short on options for single players, a problem he says is prevalent in fighting games of its ilk. "The game is severely lacking in single-player content, which doesn't give much to the crowd that isn't in it to go online and challenge the world," Epps said. "While this is the standard for fighting games, it really shouldn't be what we're stuck with." 

Matt Paprocki of Inverse made similar complaints, criticizing the game for having "[m]inimal solo options and routine online duels[.]" While many players flock to fighting games for their online experiences and the competitive community, solo fighting game fans might feel left out by "King of Fighters 15."

King of Fighters 15 has been warmly received by critics

Though not without its criticisms, "King of Fighters 15" has enjoyed a mostly positive reception from critics. On Metacritic, the PlayStation 5 version of the game currently boasts a relatively high aggregate score of 81/100, while the Xbox Series X version has a lower, but still respectable score of 78/100. Though they lack scores at this time, the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of "King of Fighters 15" seem to have also garnered mostly positive reviews from critics.

The general consensus around the game seems to indicate that it will satisfy longtime fans of not just the series, but fighting games in general. While there is certainly a lack of content outside of the game's online component, it's worth a try for anyone looking to button mash and defeat foes to their heart's content. Fans will ultimately have to decide for themselves if the game is worth it.