The new game from the creators of BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena is a must for fighting game fans, but also perfect for newcomers.
There’s no ifs or buts about it, Guilty Gear Xrd is the best-looking fighting game ever made. We know most people have never heard of the series, even many beat ’em-up fans, but hopefully we can tempt a few more into the fold with this latest release. It’s only a Capcom style update to the previous game, but adding more to one of the most unfairly overlooked fighters of recent years is no bad thing.
Guilty Gear really doesn’t deserve its obscurity, and indeed most of the problem is simply that developer Arc System Works don’t have a regular publishing partner in Europe. Although there have been spin-offs that have dabbled with Smash Bros. style four-player action, the awkwardly named Xrd is regarded as a mainline entry (the fifth to be precise) and so wears its debt to Street Fighter with pride.
Different game version
The first game was subtitled –SIGN and although this does have quite a bit of new content, it’d be overstating things to call it a sequel. Despite towing most of the lines laid down by Capcom all those years ago, Guilty Gear has always been distinguished by its bizarre characters and hard rock soundtrack. It’s also always been one of the most technical fighting games around, even more so than spiritual successor BlazBlue.
The Guilty Gear games are also famed for their excellent 2D animation, but since BlazBlue has now become Arc System’s primary franchise that’s left them with a problem when trying to distinguish Guilty Gear in terms of visuals.
Their answer to this problem is impressively ambitious, as Xrd completely abandons 2D sprites in favour of Unreal Engine 3-powered polygons. We know that’s not what it looks like from the screenshots, but this really is a 3D fighter that looks like a 2D game.
Does the gameplay feel the same?
From a technical perspective we’re sure it’s not doing anything very extraordinary but even being familiar with Sign we still found jaws dropping on a regular basis. Especially when the camera starts rotating round during special moves and at the end of a match.
The only downside to the new graphics was that the initial roster in Sign was small for a fighting game, with just 15 initial characters and two DLC extras. This is a problem that Revelator immediately improves upon, with new characters such as the horror-themed Jack-O’ who can summon monsters and control them via a magic music organ. Or series regular Johnny, who looks like a cross between Johnny Cash and a pirate and has some super-fast sword attacks.
Or there’s Jam Kuradoberi, the part time chef and bounty hunter who, unusually for Guilty Gear, fights only with her fists and feet – and who can power up her special moves by posing in various stances.
Two extra DLC characters are also available for free if you buy the game during the launch week or if you unlock them via in-game currency, with a third to come later. All of which raises the roster to count to a creditable total of 23.
Still easy to master
But if you’re beginning to assume that all these weird sounding characters means the game must be nightmarishly difficult to learn and control the opposite is true. Sign was already surprisingly accessible, by ensuring that more technical moves and concepts were presented merely as optional extras, but Revelator goes further and introduces Stylish Mode.
This not only helps with combos but allows you to perform one button special moves. The best thing is it’s balanced (by removing certain side benefits to specific moves) so that you can still play against more experienced players.
And this is in addition to the already excellent tutorial mode, which puts supposedly mainstream fighting games, such as Street Fighter, to shame by *shock* explaining how you’re meant to play the game.