Heaven or Hell? Let's Rock!
Newest Update Brings More Action To Guilty Gear Series
Check out all of our past reviews.
When Guilty Gear initially smashed its way into the desolate and dusty fighting game genre in the late 90's, it broke apart the martial arts tropes that had almost wholly comprised the genre. It stood as one of the most unique fighting games of it's time, combining heavy metal and anime with an incredibly fast combat system that was simple enough to pick up, but insanely difficult to master. The Accent Core Plus iteration stands among the best the series has ever offered, with a significant amount of content to be enjoyable enough for fighting game beginners and experts alike.
The metal soundtrack that accompanies this game is among one of the most boasted about things from Guilty Gear virtuosos; the music is, in fact, so important an aspect for this game that many of the characters have had either their names or attacks attributed to various rock and metal bands throughout the ages. Axl Low, for example, is named after the front man of Guns n' Roses, while Ky Kiske has a special move named, 'Ride the Lighting' which is a reference to Metallica.
The references to music culture are great, and the soundtrack definitely sets the mood with excellent guitar riffs that can put you in the mood to beat your opponent into a pulp by setting them on fire, shooting a myriad billiard balls at their face or smacking them with a killer whale.
On the subject of attacking with killer whales, the cast in this game is incredibly diverse and, dare I say, unique. There's a shadow demon that fights by using the dead body of an antagonist from the original Guilty Gear game and a cross-dressing boy who fights with yo-yo's. You also have a clinically insane surgeon who wields a scalpel and an incredibly unorthodox fighting style of disappearing underneath blankets, and then reappears behind opponents by opening a giant door or just falling from the sky.
The characters are varied, interesting, and they all play well, though some are easier to learn than others without a significant time investment. One concept to note is that a lot of people unfamiliar with fighting games could probably pick this right up and have a lot of fun without trying to climb to the very peak of the fighting mechanics, but that peak is definitely up there for those who wish to conquer it. It's easy enough to use the basic gatling combos and flashy supers to wail on opponents, though recent players of Blazblue or Persona 4 Arena would have a much easier time of this, which isn't surprising, given that Arc System Works made the above two games as well, this being their spiritual predecessor.
The fast and frenetic systems that form this game are extensively varied and offer a lot of value for those who want to sink their teeth in with everything they've got.
Those who wish to become more advanced can learn how to chain their character's respective Overdrive attacks into their combos, which use hearty amounts of the Tension meter but deal loads of damage if successful. A skilled player can also use half of their Tension meter to do Roman Cancels to cut an attack's animation short to aid combo creation, notwithstanding a perfectly timed cancel only uses 25 percent of the meter instead, helping skilled and learned players tie devastating Overdrive attacks into longer combinations. Knowing when to do use an Overdrive super and when to string a combo out is extremely important in all forms of play.
Did the prior explanations seem like a lot? If so, know that it's barely scratching the surface of the intermediate techniques this game offers to skilled players.
A nice thing to note is that the game gives you a lot of time to get used to all of its mechanics since it has a very large number of game modes to delve into and experience. There's a story mode that gives a fair amount of information on all the characters, plus enacts a lot of interesting handicaps on you or your opponents in some of the more series-long rivalry fights. There's a mission mode that ranks you while you try to accomplish various tasks during a fight such as requiring that you send your foe airborne to deal damage. Two survival-type modes are available for play as well, one of which follows the suspected nomenclature: In Survival, you fight against computer opponents and rank up floors based on how well you perform in the fight, mostly upon combo multipliers, while facing progressively stronger opponents. To even the odds against the increasingly difficult Shadow and Gold characters, every 20 levels you complete will unlock new skills to help you on the more difficult floors. In M.O.M., the survival score attack mode, you fight characters one after another, trying for the highest score before losing a fight. There is, of course, a training mode that can help beginners practice combos and cancels, so you can crush your friends and computers alike in the versus modes.
For those wondering, there is an online multiplayer mode available in the game; as of this writing, however, the netcode seems to have some trouble as the matchmaking was extremely slow and there was significant button lag. Sometimes when a button would be pressed the action would show on-screen upwards of a half second later, which is very detrimental to such a fast game. Supposedly this is to be fixed by the Spring 2013 patch upcoming to this game from Arc System Works. Thankfully there's a lot to keep a person busy until the patch is released, so new purchasers can enjoy the high-quality sprites and backgrounds in this game.
As one might expect from a sprite-based fighting game, the graphics are clean and the backgrounds gorgeous. The backgrounds are interesting, but not so active or cluttered that they can distract you from the action. The character sprites are extremely well animated, and though they're beginning to show their age since they've been upscaled to appropriate resolutions, so while the sprites move well neither they nor the on-screen HUD look as great as what's available in Blazblue, especially in the Xbox Live Arcade port. Nonetheless, the game has a tremendous amount of content for a great price, and it's pretty easy to get a bit addicted to, though significantly harder to seriously get into the game without visiting the Dustloop forums for combo tips and zoning tricks.
To summarize: Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus not only offers an extremely lengthy title, but also provides an extremely deep fighting system with lots of characters that are all extremely unique and well-balanced. There's a lot to keep players coming back for more. The lack of a combo-training mode to teach new fighting game players which moves can string to others easily, such as the one in Persona 4 Arena or Street Fighter 3rd Strike, means a bit more effort is required on the player's part to improve his or her own game. This one is difficult to recommend to people who are not true fighting game enthusiasts. But if they are, there is very little that can rival it.
Vincent is an RPG lover and masochist who constantly gets beaten in online fighting games. When in doubt, Shoryuken or Megidolaon. You can write him at : PookandPie@gmail.com.