It has been a few years since we have heard form the Guilty Gear franchise. Arc System Works has moved on the focusing solely on the BlazBlue series but make no mistake, this was the franchise that put them on the map in the fighting game genre. Long before Ragna and crew were hogging the spotlight, Ky, Sol, and the rest of the GG gang were the faces leading the charge for Arc. Recently, one of the key titles in the Guilty Gear series was brought back for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus (ACP) may not be the newest fighting game on the market, but it still stands among the best available.
It is important to note, as I already mentioned, that this isn’t a “new” game. This is a port of a PlayStation 2 game from 2008. There are a few new additions including the ability to fight others online online, an HD makeover, and achievement and trophies. Fans of the current fighting game market will notice some glaring holes in the game’s feature set that have become standard fare for the genre. While you can now battle it out online, one of the few additions to the digital version of the game, you won’t be able to record and share your battles like you can in recent games. Also, what you see is what you get; don’t expect any additional content to come down the pipeline in the form of downloadable content.
The lack of these types of features is okay though, because ACP stands fine on its existing feet. First off, despite being a five year old game, it still looks amazing in motion. The visuals aren’t as crisp as Arc’s modern work but they still look very nice. The new, higher resolution does add a bit of pixelation to the characters but it really adds character in my opinion. The animations are still top notch which is something that Arc has always been known for. You will be hard pressed to find a more meticulously animated game, on any system from any era. The motion of these characters and the backgrounds is as smooth as ever and something that Arc has certainly mastered as an art. In addition to silky-smooth animations, the series as a whole is also noted for having an incredibly rocking soundtrack. We’re talking about the definition of a hardcore metal here! The musical roots are firmly planted in the heavy metal world; the audio experience is filled with wailing electric guitars and furious tunes similar to something you would hear at a Dragonforce conert.
One of the other things that the series was known for and is incredibly evident in this game is an incredibly diverse roster. The game’s 25 characters are all as unique as they are colorful. You won’t find any pallette swaps here! The character variety, combined with the incredible depth of the gameplay system creates quite and extensive experience. While there is a pick and and play element of the game, meaning that beginners will be able to pick it up and have some fun, don’t expect to go toe to toe with the die hard and dedicated fans of the series. This is the sort of game that fans will dedicate years to; they will need all of that time too, if they want to experience everything offered by each member of the roster.
This isn’t your typical fighter with a couple of special moves and perhaps a super move or two for each character. ACP, and the Guilty Gear series in general, has an insanely deep gameplay system fueling its experience. There are a lot of mechanics to learn such as Roman Cancels, Force Roman Cancels, Burst Attacks, Aerial Dusts, Force Breaks, Slashbacks, and many, many more. There is a lot to learn and mastering them will take months, if not years. Things are complicated even more by the intense pacing of the game as well; things move very fast in this world and you definitely need to have your head on straight and remain focused if you hope to have any sort of success.
Thankfully, the development team has given players a ton of modes to help with learning all there is to the fine points of the gameplay experience. There is a standard story mode, mission mode, survival, as well as an extensive tutorial mode that will help you become a better and more efficient player. The story mode in particular is very well done as it includes branching paths; you can play through multiple times with the same character and experience different story arcs and events, which is incredibly nice.
While ACP is definitely a classic title for the genre and one that certainly holds up after the passing years, there are still some signs of age evident in the game. Most notably, despite having some shiny, new online-multiplayer support, the netcode feels somewhat antiquated. I found myself running into some major moments of lag during battles online; this wasn’t every battle I encountered, but it was enough to warrant a mentioning. The games are still playable to a degree, but considering the depth and precision required for mastering this game, it really threw a proverbial-wrench into many of my battles. While I think that they did a smart thing in bucking many of the current trends in terms of the game’s makeup, I think that they should have taken some notes from the modern online implementations. The other issue with the game isn’t necessarily the fault of game itself but the PlayStation 3 controller itself. This game was designed to be played with an arcade stick; playing it with anything else is simply a crime against humanity. If you are picking this up, I highly recommend that you make sure that you have a stick of some sort.
ACP wasn’t just a great trip down memory lane for me, it was renewed access to a true classic. This isn’t the type of remake that you play for “old times sake” and then put down; this is an experience that will pull fans in and make them thankful that they can now access it on their current console(s). This game has earned a spot on my current playlist alongside the likes of modern fighters like PS All-Stars, Street Fighter X Tekken, and Mortal Kombat. If you are serious about fighting games, this is definitely one to add to your collection.