is a survivor. It’s one of the few fighting franchises that have decided that making the leap to 3D isn’t the only means of survival. Instead it stays in two planes and in the process exudes an aura of old-schoolish-ness, that feeling of nostalgia that brings you back to the time with Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown, and Darkstalkers
ruled the day. But it does more than just mimic those classic titles, instead it adds its own distinct flair to the genre and while it seems wholly familiar, it also feels entirely unique.
As you browse through the manual you’ll probably experience a mild case of déjà vu. Everything in the game, the characters, the controls, the move sets, the gameplay, looks and feels vaguely memorable. While this could easily turn into a disadvantage in a heartbeat, Sammy manages to turn this into a heavy positive for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the game and trust us, if you’re a fan of 2D fighters you’ll want to get nice and cozy with this one.
Think of Guilty Gear X2
as the measuring stick of 2D fighters. Everything you could ever ask for in a fighting game has been included here: great variety in modes, decent storylines and unique and interesting characters. In fact this game is so deep in the modes department that there are actually two different variants of the now common survival mode. In addition to the aforementioned, there’s a mode called M.O.M. which plays like survival but instead of just beating up enemies at random, you’ll earn medals based on your performance and while it’s nothing major, it’s a nice deviation from the norm.
We don't care what the manual says, the thing on the right is not a boy
Of course you’ll have the usual arcade and Vs. modes at your disposal but what’s this, a story mode? That’s right, you’ll be able to select your character and learn even more about them via a nice little dossier and some entertaining, albeit cheesy, cutscenes. After you’re done beating the hell out of your opponents you can take a breather and head into the game’s gallery where you can view artwork and all of the game’s endings. Sure it bides into the Japanese reasoning that collecting items is in fact an integral aspect of a game but hey, it works.
In order to do combat you’ll have four attacks at your disposal, a punch, a kick, a slash and a heavy slash. As their namesakes would imply you attack with the designated object. Each character is armed with a weapon of some sort, a sword, a giant anchor, a guitar and of course, the all elusive yo-yo. As you could probably deduce, the game is very unique in its execution, refusing to bow down to convention and taking the fighting genre into a direction of its own.
Anyone who has played a Capcom fighter will be right at home with this game. Most of the moves are executed via the widely popular assortment of quarter circles, half circles and of course, charge maneuvers. What’s nice is that some of the characters have a nice mix of both maneuvers, adding a lot of balance to the game. For instance, one character in the game shoots projectiles via the sonic boom-esque charge for two seconds maneuver; however his main air counter is performed via the half circle technique. It’s a nice way to add some change and balance to the formula.
Then to really mix things up some interesting strategic elements have been put in to play. Those who played the older iterations of the series will be happy to know that the Dust function, the game’s main combo maneuver, can be performed by pressing the R1 button as opposed to pressing the circle and triangle. This adds even more to the game’s simplicity but does so in a nice way, making the game feel more innovative as opposed to dumbed down. Then there are the super moves, which true to Street Fighter
fashion, do an admirable job of turning the tide in the midst of a battle. For defensive-minded individuals there is the new Pysch Burst technique that allows you to break an opponent’s combo. There are a bevy of interesting tactics, Overdrives, Instant Kills, Roman Cancels and Counter Hits. Thankfully the designers had the foresight to make these tactics come at a price, eating up a significantly large chunk of your super meter.
Step one to making a Japanese game: Make sure there are plenty of shiny effecs
However, like most fighting games all characters aren’t created equal. As you play through the game you’ll more than likely notice that some of the game’s 23 characters have an overwhelming advantage over the others. It’s readily apparent that some characters were more fleshed out than the others, especially the ones who have full fledged bios in the game’s included manual. They seem to have more moves, more tactics and overall, just more of an advantage over the competition. Sometimes you’ll see characters with two pages of moves while some will have only two or three special maneuvers. Furthermore, some don’t have many transitional moves that can be used to link combos while others have an insanely substantial amount. As you progress through the game you’ll learn not to use some of the characters, if anything, for their lack of polish and dynamic.
But don’t get us wrong, this is one hell of an amazing game. The fighting system works perfectly and as an added bonus, caters to both veterans and newbies to the genre. Though there is a distinct advantage to 2D fighter vets, a newbie could just as easily pick up the game and have a great time. This is thanks to the game’s relative simplicity. Moves and combos aren’t really too hard to pull off and while button mashing can actually earn you some victories, you’ll soon learn that timing and patience is the key to success. As a fighter, the action and combat flows much more smoothly than say Capcom Vs. SNK 2
or Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
This is one great looking game, proving that a next generation 2D-fighter can indeed be comprised of beautifully rendered sprites. This game makes Capcom Vs. SNK2
’s art direction look amateurish in comparison. The characters are sharp and look great against the beautifully rendered backdrops. There’s really a great sense of beauty inherent in the game. Whether it be the girlish looking boy or the demon possessed thug, every character just looks amazing. Every move looks great, featuring some of the most impressive animation ever seen in a 2D fighter. In order to squeeze every last bit out of the graphics department, the game includes support for High Definition monitors, taking the game to an entirely new level.
Nice touches are strewn about the game such as dust clouds that arise in the wake of your characters, bright visuals that can blind a cat and my favorite, minute versions of your characters by the energy bar that mimic your character's current actions. Making contact with the enemy yields an equally pleasing result that is very anime-ish but like everything else, feels right at home in this game.
This isn’t to say that the visual look of the game is perfect. Sometimes you’ll notice some pixilation when executing some of the game’s flashier moves. Other times the backgrounds just don’t quite look up to par. We also had a few problems with the game’s interface because while the fighting portion of the game looks great, the interface just pales in comparison. The character selection screen, which requires you to move your pointer over the portrait of the characters, seems kind of strange as it promotes some characters more than others.
Looks like Milia is looking for a starring role in Bikini Karate Babes 2
The game sounds pretty nice through and through although the music does suffer quite a bit. Each stage has a generic techno/rock soundtrack that is generally bland and unmemorable. It’s not that a song has to be overly complex to be cool, hell I still hum the tune to Guile’s level from Street Fighter 2
from time to time but if you were to ask me to hum a tune from GGX2
, I’d probably just give you a blank stare. The voices, where are in Japanese, are suitable for what the game is offering. Sometimes it’s detracting but never to the point where it becomes too irritating to bear.
To make things simple on you, Guilty Gear X2
isn’t just the best fighting game to come out in 2003, it’s also the best fighting game to come out in the past 12 months. It plays so smoothly and so fluidly that you’ll begin to wonder just how you were able to live without it. There’s just no other way to put it, Sammy has beaten Capcom at its own game. Aside from Panzer Dragoon Orta
, this is the first must-have title to come out this year. If you’re a fan of fighting games you must own Guilty Gear X2