I’m not going to give a score to the game, but here are the points I would touch on if I was reviewing this game. Some points will be directed at hardcore players, others will be directed more at the normal gamer.
I’m expanding a bit on the negative points just for team feedback (if they are reading this thread), since the positives kind of speak for themselves. So the negative section might be longer than the positive section for that reason, even though I (obviously) like the game.
+Fantastic core set of characters, all of them very different. The game feels just as dense (if not more) at 18 characters than SFIV at 40 characters. Most characters try something new that hasn’t been tried in another fighting game.
+Game brings out a lot of energy and emotion, you can never stop thinking during a fight
+Combo breaker system is wholly unique and brings interesting mind games you don’t find in other games, but the base system feels very “Street Fighter-y”, which gives you a great mix of new and familiar
+Ongoing developer support that interacts with their players regularly means the game is more in touch with player sensibilities more quickly (on average)
+Despite characters being strong and varied, the game’s balance is great
+Great spectator game because of its high energy and penchant for “scrambles” and high intensity moments
+Stages and music are the best in any fighting game on the market
+Netcode is best in class, making online a legitimate way to train
+Game does a respectable job teaching newcomers how to play with the Dojo and Combo Assist modes
+Shadows mode does a much better job replicating human behavior by fighting game AI than any other game, even though the AI itself has flaws at times
-Character aesthetics feel uneven; some characters look and animate superbly, while others have some jankiness to them that feels unnecessary
-Long loading times and downtime between fights (unskippable post-fight cutscenes, which have gotten longer in S2) can frustrate. Character select loading is particularly bad.
-Shadow Jago, a tournament-legal character in the game, is not purchasable any time, he can only be bought during special promotions, and at an inflated cost to the other characters. It’s an artifact of how the game was made over its first two years of development, but it is inexcusable in 2016.
-Many of the game’s modes feel like they have missed their potential. Shadows mode, for example, is a very smart approach to fighting game AI and it works well, but it is not realized well in the game. The game lets you save only two shadow characters, and you cannot play shadow AI from other players with any character in the game. This means one of the main reasons players might want to try the mode out (practicing with a new character they aren’t confident to go online with yet) is impossible without deleting an existing shadow and spending the 10-15 minutes required to set up a new one. None of the game’s single player story modes take advantage of the unique potential Shadows mode would bring, and there is missed opportunity to use Shadows as a teaching tool (“anti-airs are important to learn, so to teach you this, fight this jump-happy shadow opponent!”). This missed potential extends to other areas of the game, such as their replay system (which is well implemented but no opportunity to share replays with other users).
-Huge missed opportunity for DLC costumes, colors, and announcers. The game seems custom-built to handle a steady stream of aesthetics, but strangely little has ever been released. The series as a whole has always taken particular pride in their announcers as being a large part of the fight, but only one DLC announcer has ever been released over 2+ years; I can’t imagine the revenue stream wouldn’t exist for “famous” fighting game announcers such as 3rd Strike or Alpha, famous voices from other games (Halo’s announcer, Bastion’s narrator, etc), or any number of other things. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that KI, at times, feels constrained by its budget, and part of the revenue from this super low-hanging fruit could help make the game better.
-The game’s unlock system requires way too much grinding, so colors and accessories tend to remain locked for dozens of hours
Obviously the game comes highly recommended from me, because the pros far outweigh the cons. The core fighting game aspect of KI is exceptional, and that’s really why we play these games. But if there is a complaint to levy against the game (aside from a few scattered animations and models being a little weird), it’s that it feels like sometimes KI is its own roadblock from people enjoying its features. It would be nice to see KI ditch its seemingly artificial restrictions (stuff hidden behind unlocks, unable to play shadows mode with a random character, Shadow Jago not buyable regularly, etc) and embrace its high potential for aesthetic DLC.