Wednesday 7 May 2014

Blazblue Chronophantasma Review (PS3)

Over the years Blazblue has taken up the position of the hardcore alternative to Capcom’s Street Fighter IV. Most of the characters require hours of dedication to get to grips with and the crazy plot that includes time travel, magic, science, civil wars and alternate worlds can baffle anyone. Now the series is back with the third chapter of its continuing story.

Chronophantasma takes place after the first two games and follows the characters as they move to the ruins of Ikaruga in search of the next magical McGuffin. We aren’t going to try and some up what’s happened so far or what's next as it’ll only confuse everyone. Just know that bad things are going to happen and some people want it to and others don’t. There is of course a puppet master behind the scenes as well trying to put everything into place.

This isn’t an easy game to get into for newcomers to the series. There’s a ton of things to take in and trying to tie up the story will take a serious investment. There’s a helpful ‘Teach Me Miss Litchi’ section which recaps the lore and events so far but still, if you want to get involved as a newcomer we would recommend picking up either of the earlier games first.

The game comes jam packed with different game modes as always and there’s almost limitless hours that can be put into it. Aside from the Arcade and survival modes there is Abyss mode which has your character working their way through ever increasingly difficult maps containing opponents set at different computer AI levels. There is also the BlazBlue version of score attack which pits you against some of the hardest encounters known to man for bragging rights.

The story mode has undergone a slight change for this version and you now no longer follow the individual paths of characters. Instead there are three main branches that need to be completed with characters aligned to different factions in each. We found a bit too much talking and not enough fighting this time around and at one point we actually stopped to check it wasn’t just a completely non-interactive section. Once it gets going though it’s a good tale and enjoyable, especially for fans of the series. The wealth of training modes also return with everything you need to teach you the basic mechanics and then take you into ridiculous depth with your chosen characters. 

What is likely to cause ripples with some fans is the changes made to the characters. All the original cast have been rebalanced and in some cases retooled with moves and special moves. Jin is the most notably different with the range and speed of certain moves changed and the removal of his mass-hitting spam everything quickly with the sword move (much to the relief of everyone who uses other characters). Things soon begin to click again but we got absolutely hammered just diving into arcade mode and then wondering why nothing was working.

There’s a host of new characters on display as well and the game has a pretty sizable cast of fighters now. Further characters are available as downloadable content at launch which is something else likely to rub fans up the wrong way. That said, there is more than enough here to justify the price of the game so don’t think you are getting a bare bones release, you aren’t.

The other major addition is the implementation of the 'Overdrive' meter which replaces the ‘Gold Burst’ move. When activated this it allows for more damaging distortion drive techniques as well as stopping the match timer. The lower your health, the longer the effect lasts. Guards have also been changed but the drive is the new big thing and players will have to drastically change their game plan in close matches.

The main thing is that after you get to grips with the changes everything flows as beautifully as before. This is still one of the most spectacularly intense fighting games on the market and this version of the game is a very strong showing in an ever increasingly crowded genre.

Overall, Blazblue Chronophantasma is a must for anyone who is into their fighting games. Fans will be desperate to continue the story but anyone who’s up for a challenge will appreciate what the game has to offer as well. It may not be the easiest title to get into but once you do there is little else out there as rewarding or satisfying.

Overall 8/10

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