Tuesday 22 December 2015

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- Review (PC)

 Written by Natalie Houghton
After what seems like almost an eternity, Guilty Gear is back with a bang and now smashing its way straight onto PC.
Fan favourites, Ryu & Ken… sorry! I mean Sol Badguy & Ky Kiske make their return, accompanied by a variety of other characters whose golas are interesting to say the least. Bedman, a mysterious assassin whose motivations are, funnily enough, completely unknown careers semi-unconsciously around the screen whilst strapped to a mechanical bed-like contraption which is fitted with all kinds of standard BDSM materials such as whips, spikes and chains. Elphelt whose only mission in life is to become a bride – her way of attempting achieve this is to pop champagne corks in the face of her adversaries, hit them over the head with a bunch of roses and then harass them into proposing to her. Then there’s Sin (the son of Ky), who is apparently not even 5yrs old, despite clearly looking like he’s around 18… I’m not quite sure what any fan girls might make of that. It’s certainly not boring.
The series looks absolutely stunning – a serious contender for the best looking anime styled fighter ever – staying true to its 2D roots, it has made the transition to a 3D cel-shaded fighter incredibly smoothly. The whole game runs at 1080p and 60fps (apart from a few character introductions which are deliberately slowed down a bit for the effect). At the core, it still plays like a 2D side scroller. There are 5 main attacking buttons – punch, kick, slash and heavy slash. Dust attacks also return for Xrd Sign – if they connect these allow you to instantly shoot your opponent up into the air, allowing a crazy barrage of attacks to be unleashed upon them in mid-air.
The colouring and special effects are volcanic, almost exploding off the screen themselves. In order to execute some of these impressive moves you’ll have to get training, sitting down and learning what is a very technical fighter which requires some very specific button presses. If like me, you’re absolutely useless at this kind of thing then there is a slightly comical tutorial mode where Sol schools Shin (he IS only 5yrs old, remember?), that can help to ease newbies into the fray. HINT: Use the analogue sticks – it’s a lot easier!
There’s also a challenge mode that tasks you with completing a series of more increasingly difficult moves for each character. Mission mode is slightly different and pits you against potential scenarios that you might experience in battle so that you can try out tactics against each attack allowing you to hone your skills even further.
The learning curve is quite steep, the moves, spectacular combos and all of the systems in play such as Roman cancels, the Blitz Shield, Danger Time and Instant Kills are all covered in the tutorial, however it will take some time before you’re used to all of this and can use them all to your advantage. Arcade mode is then where you can put everything that you’ve learnt into practice. There are a standard 8 opponents per arcade mode session with interspersed cut scenes every couple of fights, these are quite brief though and often contain a lot of unfamiliar terminology relating to Guilty Gear Lore. The plot is quite simple. a being named Ramlethal Valentine has declared war on the world and the cast rush to investigate exactly what this means, needless to say that Arcade mode doesn’t give a definitive answer.
Once you’ve completed arcade mode, if you want to know what happens to the story after that and are happy with sitting through what is essentially a 12 episode anime then feel free to start the story mode. Get your fizzy drinks and popcorn at the ready, this shares no similarities with the Persona 4 Ultimax or BlazBlue story modes as it is essentially a 5hr movie broken up into chapters for easier viewing. Unfortunately, the story is linear in nature and there aren’t any branching paths. If you like anime or are really into the Guilty Gear lore / story then you may like this, otherwise it may not be your cup of tea.
The usual training & gallery modes make a return, although I noticed that even if you spend hours practicing specific moves in the training mode listening to the same music over and over, it doesn’t get boring. The slightly heavy metal guitar riddled soundtrack suits the tone of the game well. The M.O.M (Mansion of Millionaires) mode is the surprise mode of the bunch, it’s essentially a massive brawl for coins where you can battle various characters spread out across a hexagonal grid and buy buffs and upgrades in a sort of RPG style way. The odds are seriously stacked against you here, forget easy mode, this is where things get real and there shall be no mercy as you struggle to keep in play against enemies with triple your health, bombs bouncing all around the screen, it’s an absolute nightmare but raucous fun nonetheless. Last but not least and also if you dare, there is an Online mode that has both ranked and casual battles which from my experience works pretty well if you can find a room with a free slot.
Overall, Guilty Gear is a fast paced, tremendously awesome sounding, deliciously luscious looking beat ‘em up for the PC, let’s hope that the next one arrives pretty soon. Heaven or Hell… it doesn’t matter, all I know is that it’s time to rock!

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