Developed By: Arc System Works
Published By: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Asia
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Reviewed On: PS4
Guilty Gear -Strive- marks Arc System Works return to one of its oldest series after the success they had with Dragon Ball FighterZ. Being the 7th mainline instalment, Arc System Works intended the game to be a “complete reconstruction of the franchise” to bring newcomers to the game. Will it work?
The Story Revs On
The game follows Guilty Gear Xrd story mode cinematic experience where there is an anime-type movie divided into chapters. The story continues where it was left from Guilty Gear Xrd and anybody new to the game can catch up using GG WORLD to see the history and events of the series.
This is a different feel for me where no story was present in the arcade mode. The cinematic is nice as it keeps the story flowing but there were some weird animations that make some characters and environment feel very unnatural.
Visuals and Performance
The game is a 2.5D fighting game and the anime character design look beautiful. Character movement and animation are excellent and I also love the hit effect which made every hit look impactful in the game. Particle effects just light out the screen as you punch the lights out of your opponent.
Currently, the game has a roster of 15 characters with 2 new characters joining the series. There are plans to expand the roster in the future by DLC with 5 characters planned for Season Pass 1. The current base roster feels well balance with different types of fighter-style available that should please the players even though it is quite a small roster.
On PlayStation 4 the loading times are a little longer being around 20 seconds per match but overall it is still acceptable. What was not acceptable was the login online to the games network. This is a mandatory thing when you load the game before the start menu and sometimes it might take up to a few minutes just to connecting to the network. I hope this get fix soon by a patch or something as it sometimes gets frustrating.
Now let’s get into the main thing of this game, and that is the fighting. The game has a very steep learning curve and there will be an obvious difference between how a newcomer and a veteran play. Luckily, there is a very intensive tutorial mode that is in the game which will explain all the game mechanics. It is advisable that newcomers complete the tutorial before diving into a match as there is a lot to learn. (I think it will take around a day to complete the tutorial itself.)
Learning it is one thing but trying to execute it during a battle is another with the number of ways to use Roman Cancel to extend combos or defend against your opponent. The game has made it easier to execute these techniques by letting you map it to controller buttons which is new to the series but I still find it very difficult as a newcomer to find the correct timing to use them.
The game rewards aggression and because of this, it is no surprise there are a lot of counter moves with invincibility frames in the game. Learning how to counter is important in controlling the tempo of the fight as it will help you start combos or break the opponent combo. Add in the Burst and Roman Cancel mechanic into the mix and the game gives you many ways to take control of the flow of the fight.
Overall the fighting in the game feels very technical. Learning to use every mechanic in the game look troublesome at first but as I get the hang of it, I can see how it all blends together to create a unique fighting mechanic different from other fighting games out there. There are a lot of combo variation that can be executed in this game if you manage to master all the techniques and matchup.
The game handles online by using sort of a lobby where players can run around in a 2D environment with a customizable avatar. You can unlock more item to customize your avatar by fishing a random reward using coins which you earn playing the game.
I like the way how online is handled as your can also select which region lobby you want to be in to find a better ping. Sadly, there is no ranked mode currently but the game will automatically place you on a floor base on your performance.
Only one problem I had was that playing in the Southeast Asia lobby, there was barely anybody there. This might be an issue as this is currently the game’s launch week and with the player count this low, I might have to join other regions with a higher ping for me.
What I Liked
- The tutorial mode is excellent especially for newcomers to the series
- Character attack animations look great
- Manages to stay unique compared to other fighting games with its mechanics
What I Wished Was Better
- The network connection has to be better
- Certain region lobbies are empty
A New Beginning to an Old Series
Guilty Gear -Strive- is worth a try especially now since Arc System Works has made it more accessible to newcomers to the series. Fans of the game will be satisfied that the game still has its game mechanic intact and Arc System Works has been fixing the game with the feedback of the community. Hopefully, this game becomes a turning point for the series that will help increase its player base.