She’s Back

HIGH Baiken!

LOW It may be a fine update, but it is just an update.

WTF A ninja Vice-President battling enemies whilst taking phone calls.


 

It’s time for a new Guilty Gear, and holy cow – Baiken’s back! Ten out of ten!

Whew. That was an easy review… Or at least it would be if I were allowed to score games based on my kneejerk fanboy reaction. Ah well.

Anyway, it goes without saying that this is a new instalment of the Guilty Gear franchise… except for the fact that it kind of isn’t at the same time. It’s more like an update to the previous game Revelator. Essentially, a veritable Championship Edition EX Plus Turbo that adds new characters, more stages, rebalances the existing cast and actually finishes off the story mode from last time. It doesn’t even have to be bought as a standalone title — there’s a paid update available, so anyone can inject this shiny new goodness into their vanilla copy of Revelator.

Of course, incremental updates come at a cost. While there’s no doubt that this is now the latest and greatest version of Guilty Gear Xrd on the market, its impact is somewhat diluted by the fact that there’s already been two kickass installments of the series in the past couple of years, so Rev 2‘s worth comes down to one simple question – does it offer enough to the existing player base to justify its existence?

Well, yes. It does, though the revisions aren’t quite enough to draw in anyone who wasn’t convinced before. It won’t win over anyone already put off by the myriad complexities inherent to its particular style of fighting, either.

The biggest amendment to Rev 2 from a casual perspective is, of course, the new characters. Maimed series favorite, the samurai badass Baiken, is joined by a completely new character called Answer who was previously only available in the story mode cutscenes.

As the Vice President of a newly-established country, Answer is so busy with his duties running the nation that he usually spends half the fight holding a conversation on what passes for his smartphone, hurling business cards like shuriken at anyone foolish enough to interrupt the Business Ninja’s ninja business. He’s also capable of setting up glowing scrolls around the arena which can be utilized to control space and extend his combos in some weird, complex and occasionally terrifying ways.

Baiken’s a little more straightforward in her approach to stabbing dudes, though she’s also got quite a knack for parrying, counterattacks, kicking up Tatami mats from out of thin air and controlling space with the grappling hook she uses in place of her missing arm. Some of her command inputs are a little more involved than I’d like (a half circle back for a dashing parry is tough to slam in on reaction) but she can certainly dish out the pain once she gets hold of someone.

They’re both cool characters and appreciated additions to the roster, but I have to admit that neither are exactly what I’d call beginner friendly. Whenever a new character joins the cast I usually find myself wondering whether I’d recommend them to anyone looking to get into the series, and neither of them fit that bill.

The old cast are still great, of course. The Guilty Gear franchise has always had impeccable character design, and Ramlethal, Jack’O and their various stylishly-designed chums have never looked or played better than they do here. Some of the changes will be hard to spot for anyone who isn’t a veteran, but on the whole they combine to offer a slightly smoother, more balanced experience. Oh, and Rev 2 comes with the DLC characters from Revelator such as Dizzy and Kum Haehyun immediately unlocked and ready for use.

Unfortunately, a new installment in an excellent series doesn’t necessarily mean that players have returned in droves to play it online – the PS4 had plenty of American or Japanese matchups at the time this review was written, though Europe was a little spotty. On PC, however, it was completely dead, and I can only imagine it’s even deader now. I checked the lobbies multiple times to find a grand total of zero players in all of them, and then tried to get into a ranked match with no success at all. There’s no no cross-platform play, either.

Guilty Gear Rev 2 is a fine update to Revelator that takes an already superb base game, adds some great characters into the mix and refines the fighting engine even further. It still has certain accessibility issues that any game this complex is bound to have , but there’s still nothing quite like Guilty Gear on the market when it comes to delivering high speed battles mixed with awesome visuals and great music. Rating: 8.5 out of 10


 

Disclosures: This game is developed by Arc Systems Works and published by Aksys Games. It is currently available on Playstation 4 and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 and PC. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed7 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Teen and contains Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco,  and Violence. I can’t see any kids getting too freaked out over anything on display here.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

 

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: No issues beyond the usual lack of audio cues signifying attacks. Subtitles are present for the story scenes.

 

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.

 

Darren Forman

Darren Forman

Spawned in the wilds of Scotland like some random MMORPG enemy whose sole purpose is to be hunted down and slaughtered for loot, young Darren spent the first fifty years of life eating bark and bears alike in a desperate bid to survive the elements.

The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.

The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.

Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.
Darren Forman

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