We’re pretty surprised it took this long to get a proper sequel to the Guilty Gear series. For years after the release of Guilty Gear XX, several iterations and spinoff titles have surfaced for this popular anime fighter. Arc System Works went back to the drawing lab (literally) in order to offer its fans the finest dosage of Guilty Gear to date. PS3 and PS4 owners have finally been provided with the hyperactive and wholly intense fighting game they have craved for a while now in the form of Guilty Gear Xrd.
Right off the bat, this must be said – Guilty Gear Xrd simply looks stunning. The redrawn sprites sport a new coat of paint that makes their once harder to spot details more evident. Sol-Badguy’s bulging muscles, Ky Kiske’s flowing locks and I-No’s alluring battle gear all look incredible in motion. The Unreal 3 Engine does a great job of giving you the feeling of watching and playing a full-fledged anime. The many backdrops sported on each arena doesn’t falter in the graphics department. You’ll likely get distracted as you battle on a grand airship, apocalyptic landscape and a lush green forest. The visuals sported in this fighter are most definitely its strongest suit. The heavy metal soundtrack heard here does a great job of increasing the intensity of each encounter as well.
A game that looks this good must have a strong gameplay component to back it up. Luckily, Guilty Gear Xrd’s expert fighting game mechanics are as stronger as ever here. Longtime series staples, such as Psych Bursts and Force Roman Cancels make their welcome return to the fast and fluid fights. The coolest mechanic this 5th sequel adopts is the visual overhaul for Dust air launchers. Successfully hitting your opponent with this attack brings the camera in close for an intense moments that culminates in an airborne combo string. The zoomed-in camera pops up during several climactic moments, such as super moves and Instant Kill maneuvers. This newly added aspect of the game makes each fight more intense and enjoyable than the last.
The roster includes a nice mix of the returning cast and a few new combatants. Series vets such as Sol, Ky, Millia and Slayer make their return against newcomers Bedman, Ramletherl and Sin. The new fighters are fun yet expectedly difficult to truly master. Ramletherl’s use of dual blades tasks players with setting up their attacks well in advance, Sin must be fed on occasion to keep his attacks going and Bedman’s robotic counterpart is a powerhouse that’s full of offensive surprises. The one letdown for the roster is the lack of some past beloved characters. The omission of fighters such as Baiken, Bridget, Jam, Johnny etc. will surely sadden longtime fans.
Another glaring issue for Guilty Gear Xrd is its lack of a truly immersive story mode. The Arcade Mode play through for each character features some short and sweet movie sequences that are mixed in with a deep character moment or two. The obvious translation issues are easy to spot during those text heavy sequences. The battles are straightforward and eventually lead up to a final encounter with Ramletherl. A Story Mode option exists, but its nothing more than an hours long watchable sequence. Sitting through the equivalent of anime episodes without the option to play them is a huge problem for such a grand game. You’ll no doubt feel let down and have no desire to watch the Story Mode all the way through. The M.O.M. Mode and online options manage to maximize the game’s fun though.
Guilty Gear Xrd shines in the visuals, audio and gameplay departments. The varied roster may lack a few series favorites and the true Story Mode offering is a massive disappointment, of course. Yet you’ll still feel compelled to enter this game’s heavy metal arena and deal some damage to your rivals. This stylish fighter is one of those games you surely don’t want to pass up.
Images: Arc System Works, Aksys Games