For those of you who have not kept up with the fighting genre, you would be forgiven for having no clue what Blazblue is. It was created by Arc System of the famed Guilty Gear series and released last month for PS3 and 360. It has gotten nearly all positive reviews and I have yet to come across a bad one and after playing it about a week I can see why. So this is my overview/review of it.
According to random posts i’ve seen across the internet there was some argument over who exactly the Guilty Gear series belongs to legally and rather than fight it heavily to produce another one, Arcs said “bugger it” and made a new game retaining the fast paced fighting style the GG series is known for. I have dabbled a bit in the GG games myself and while very fun, never really caught my attention. Perhaps that is because they have been on the PS2 and mine is on the verge of being broken and i’ll be damned if i’m gonna buy a new machine. Nope mine has served me well for a good 5 years or so, so i’ve laid it to rest. Anyway so lets get into the actual meat of this thing shall we?
For people who are newbies to the fighting genre (although i’m not, my skill level is that of one) you will be happy to know that the game is very friendly toward you. There are only 4 attack buttons to know and special moves can be bound into a simple right analogue stick direction. This makes it pretty easy for you to just pick up and start mashing out pretty cool looking, simple combos on the lower difficulties. Once you start to learn the characters however you will find that there is a rather deep understanding required of them which, when learnt, will enable you to pretty much steam roll over new players.
The character selection here is rather small when compaired to fighters such as Marvel VS Capcom 2 and the like, having only 12 people to choose from. Don’t let that fool you however. These are perhaps the most balanced set of characters in a fighting game in a long while. That is with exception of perhaps 1 or 2 but that will always be the case regardless of the game in question. There is a fighter here for everyone it seems. The straight up all rounder character, slow and extremely dangerous character in close range, range based fighter who excels at locking down opponents and even the less often seen fighter which I like to call the “scatter fighter” who when in the hands of a skilled person will be almost impossible to beat.
Each character has a decent sized move set that is quite easy to remember. There are no really complicated moves to memorize and in fact a lot of the combos you can do are just simple commands (such as -> + Strong attack) made at high speed with the right timing. There is also a “Drive” that is unique to that person. What is a drive? Well it is 1 of the buttons that will trigger a specific action for each character. For 1 person it will attack with a move that steals health, another will freeze the opponent and another will even let you control the wind which can be used to pin an opponent in the corner or push you quickly against an opponent that will cause them to take multiple hits with the right move. Just for comparisons sake, i’ll list each character’s drive moves.
- Ragna The Bloodedge – Attack steals health.
- Iron Tager – Attack causes enemy to become maginitsed which makes them easy for Tager to catch.
- Taokaka – Launches her with her claws out. Can also be used as a fast dodge and counter attack.
- Rachel-Alucard – Controls the wind. She can string combos using this or lock an opponent down anywhere on screen.
- Haku-Men – Brings up his guard for 1 second. Any melee attack made will be counter attacked. Any ranged attack will be totally blocked. Even supers.
- Noel-Vermillion – Allows her to quickly link many moves together. Can be very devistating when used right.
- Arakune – Hit connection will curse the enemy until they hit you. Each attack you press will cause a bug to fly onto the screen toward the enemy. Only 1 bug for each attack can be on the screen at once.
- V-13 – Sends a projectile sword toward the enemy starting from about mid screen. Incredible lock down ability which has caused her to become perhaps the most hated character online.
- Jin Kisaragi – Attacks will freeze the opponent for a second or 2.
- Litchi Faye Ling – Sets her pole in the ground which can be positioned behind the enemy for extra attacks when you recall it.
- Carl Clover – Holding drive will allow you to control his “sister” which is a robotic looking, life sized doll. Letting go of it will cause her to attack.
- Bang Shishigami – Like Haku-Men’s counter/guard ability however this only blocks melee attacks. Needs to be used 4 times successfully to unlock his Astral Ability
The graphics for this are top notch. The backgrounds are very vibrant and to say they are pretty is quite an understatement. Rachel-Alucard’s stage is just downright beautiful with it’s flower-strewn floor and spooky halloween theme to it. Well done indeed Arcs on these stages. Also the character animation is quite pretty. Very high quality and smooth and is great to see that 2D sprites can be used well and that 3D isn’t always the best. If I had to be very picky i’d say there was 1 or 2 characters that didn’t have perfect animation with a few missing frames but that will hardly be noticable in the heat of battle. Too show off the ingame graphics here is a picture of Rachel’s level.
Following Street Fighter 4’s footsteps you are able to turn the language into the original japanese voices or keep them in english. Myself I prefer to have them in japanese but be warned that when you are fighting there is a fair amount of sound spam through constant character talking when you trigger moves. That is perhaps the worst part about this game although it sounds worse than what it actually is. The music is pretty spot on with metal music for the battles which works real well for the speed of the fights. If you were lucky enough to order the game when it first came out you may of gotten the Limited Edition which came with the soundtrack of the game. Hey for no extra cost why wouldn’t you listen to it all at least once?
When it comes to fighting games there is usually 1 part that always falls flat. Story. You are given some half-assed, lame, DUMB reason why X amount of people are all together fighting each other. Blazblue takes this format and completely reinvents it by giving the Story Mode the layout of a hentai game. You read along to the (sometimes comical) antics of the character you are playing and when the time comes you make a choice. This may result in you fighting someone or bypassing them all together. The path you take will either lead you to a bad ending, or a good ending. These are quite complicated to work out and will no doubt require multiple attempts to get right so they made it very interesting to read.
Finishing a story path with the good ending will (I think) unlock a series of special movies that are drawn in chibi format. I have no clue what purpose these have other than being comical as I have yet to unlock any except the first one but these are great rewards for finishing the story mode. If you don’t wish to play story mode however you can tackle the Arcade Mode which is pretty much the standard mode you see in all fighters. Fight to the end of the roster (or in this case 8 randomly picked people then 2 end bosses) and after finishing the game you will unlock either the characters “Unlimited” version or their Astral Heat ability. Unlimited mode refers to the character gaining extra power as if they were powered up. These may result in attacks that have gained extra hits or abilities such as Rachel-Alucard’s frog attack which will now no longer disappear after it’s attack.
Astral Heat moves are instant kills of the game. Unlike the GG series though these have undergone some pretty heavy reconstruction. Think of them more like fatalities now. There are 4 conditions you must meet before you can use them.
- Unlock the move via finishing Arcade Mode if it isn’t already unlocked.
- Must be 2nd (or last) round of the match
- Must have 100% heat gauge (super meter)
- Opponent must have under 20% life left
When you meet all these conditions and use the attack, if it hits, will result in a rather flashy instant kill. These are quite impressive to watch. However I find that through the fight you will be using your super meter so much that you will rarely use these attacks. Oh well they are there at least just in case you meet all the conditions and can land it.
So that about sums up everything I wanted to say about this game. In the end it is money well spent if your a fan of fighting games. It is one of the best on the consoles today and in my opinion totally out classes Street Fighter 4 but then again i’m into more of the fast paced, flashy fighters. Still it was money very well spent.