I have always been a fan of the fighting game genre. It is a time honoured style of video game that has stood the test of time but has also had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. From the 16 bit masterpieces of Street Fighter 2 and the Mortal Kombat series to the fan service of Dead or Alive (anyone for volleyball?) ever since I can remember this genre has always been around and it is a species that is constantly evolving, becoming more dynamic and immersive as the years go on with one title trying to out do another. Then there’s Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 the latest offering by veteran developers at Arc System Works and the most recent entry in the almost 2 decades old Guilty Gear series. This is a series I have always been aware of but have never really partaken in and on a scale of overwhelmed to underwhelmed I was left solidly whelmed by this game, and while boasting colourful visuals and fast-paced fighting, and a few hours grinding through collection of extravagant warriors, it finds itself skyrocketing straight to the upper echelon.
The first thing you should know about Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (which will hereby be abbreviated to GGXrdR2 or just simply Rev 2) is that you should not approach it if you are not familiar with the series as a whole, it is extremely story driven which isn’t uncommon for fighting games today. Upon my first playthrough, I found myself instantly lost in the shuffle and was confused to the new and old characters back stories and motives. However Rev 2 does a great job in remedying this in aiding the clueless newcomers along with a timeline of events and an Episode mode for each character, providing a little back story and as well as what has brought them to the events of Rev 2, you also find yourself in a number of battles in this mode which is a good help in establishing your chosen characters relationship with the rest of the colourful roster.
The rest of Rev 2’s gameplay is very cut and dry, the fast paced fighting is exhilarating and invigorating but it does demote any strategy down to frantic button mashing at times with its variety of combos being thrown out the window and not to mention that some mechanics really take some getting used to. The controls themselves I found to be sometimes a little clunky and sluggish at first and some combos require precise button inputs to execute with your intended combo failing more times than not, but when the stars align and your combo connects the feel of your attacks pummelling your opponent and the impact felt from your punches, kicks and special attacks is nothing short of fantastic. This can be remedied with the Dojo mode to help you hone your skills and help you hit those devastating combos. Along with this, Rev 2 has a huge cast of characters all of which are unique and diverse which we will get to but in terms of fighting style, everything seems pretty samey, with little to differentiate between players it’s almost like you’ve not selected a new character sometimes. To top it all off Rev 2 comes with a fair share of game modes including single player, co-op, online, episode mode and a collection gallery for models and artwork, all of which are fun and accommodates every kind of gamer but the story mode is exactly what it says on the tin, a story, a movie within a video game if you will which is all well and good it offers a compelling story the movie lover in me likes this, but the gamer in me is sitting idly by for 30 minutes, desperately wanting to get in on the action and Guilty Gear is in all seriousness a VIDEO. GAME.
On the outside Rev 2 is awesome. I applaud the series due to the most part they have stuck to their guns with a 2d sprite look, with only a brief foray into the 3rd dimension in its almost twenty-year history. With many different battlegrounds each looking colourful, lively and many distinct timbres really keep the game going when the fights get a little recurrent. The art style and graphics in the cutscenes in the episode and story mode are also quite impressive with a bright grandeur being captured in style and the darker moments bringing the tension fantastically. The playable characters, as I mentioned earlier offers a sizeable collection with a roster that is diverse as it is unique, with returning characters like Sol Badguy, Axl Low and the paper bag wearing Faust, along with two new characters Answer and Baiken. Also, no Japanese fighter would be complete with those kawaii female characters that are at least 90 percent cleavage (fanboys and pre-pubescent teens, you’ll be pleased) as well as characters I discovered which I personally found to be very imaginative like Bedman (my new favourite superhero…wait, he’s not…). To round everything off, the powerful soundtrack does a terrific job in capturing the emphasis of battle and each situation in the story.
A PlayStation 4 Review code was provided by PQube