While I’m by far not a newcomer to fighting games, I AM a newcomer to the Guilty Gear series only knowing about it in passing. As a person who is wholly capable of enjoying the extremely high-pitched, often large-breasted female voices of Japanese anime and some often convoluted, complex, yet intriguing storylines, I was prepared to take on the anime-inspired design of Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the animation style of the actual fighting. You see, the animation frames match those of anime for what we’ll talk about later as quite beautifully stylized. However, it has a drawback: it makes character moves harder to read and react to. With just a meager 10-to-15 frames of animation given to many attack moves, I was left to actually find flaws in the opponent moreso than to learn how to read them. This is different than most modern fighting games where high framerates are combined with ultra-smooth animations to create fast, fluid, and responsive fighting. Anyone needs only jump between Street Fighter V and this game back-to-back to see exactly what I mean. In addition, depending on the chosen characters, the fights often become buried between special move effects and fighters darting around, causing an occasionally disorienting combat situation. This is fairly rare, but when it occurs, it’s definitely a head-scratcher for a fighting game to put style over substance. Nonetheless, as I began to get a grip on my characters, I did recognize that the fighting mechanics are decently well put together. It’s definitely not welcoming of button mashers, and while there can sometimes be questionable balance between moves, movesets, and even characters at times, I didn’t find anything particularly off-putting and welcomed a game that pushed a player to perform and understand rather than sit back and button mash. Still, no matter how well I got a grip on the moves, the low number of animation frames continued to affect my ability to perform precise frame-time attacks by reading opponents, and that matters in the greater scheme of things. Think of it as feeling somewhat “loose”, but not necessarily forgiving.
Fortunately, if the high-pitched voices and loose fighting mechanics don’t put you off, you’re in for plenty of things to do. Most importantly, however, is that the Story mode is not playable, but instead only watchable. This had me concerned until all the chapters came out to be a full-feature length film. It’s primarily narrative, mind you, but is a longer and deeper story than it looks. Rounding that out with plenty of modes and a supplementary episode mode that precedes the story with each fighter’s whereabouts and happenings, it’s already a healthy offering. Then with a ton of collectibles, unlocks, a healthy roster size, and a rather strange MOM (Medal of Millionaire) mode, every penny spent is accounted for.
I said it accurately as aforementioned: quite beautifully stylized. If there’s one thing the game gets near-perfect, it’s the presentational value of the awesome anime work on its fighters. While the backgrounds themselves are clearly of last-gen underpinnings, the flurry of special effects from moves light up the screen to amazing effect despite its, once again, occasionally disorienting nature. Add in those Instant Kill animations and there’s little to complain about. That “little to complain about”, however, might be the sometimes jarring differences in animation frames and framerates. While the game actually runs at 60 fps, animations are as mentioned above: only 10-15 frames; and Burst or Instant Kill sequences drop to 30 fps overall. This creates a bit of an odd contrast that some may argue is “artistic”, but at the same time undeniably inconsistent. Though, in conclusion I find myself overall impressed with the work on display, knowing it is of the highest caliber to appeal to the most scrutinizing of anime fans on prom night.
Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- is a bit of an estranged creature for me to review. It does so many things that appeal to me, but as a newcomer to the series, I am not so easily won over. As a person who has a fairly extensive time in fighting games, this game sets itself apart from others in its depth, but with it comes some serious flaws that only the most dedicated hardcore will defend and stick with. Its choice of style over substance in actual gameplay is a huge drawback for me, making reads (one of the most important skills you can have in a fighting game) more difficult, despite the increased retinal enjoyment. The choice of style pervades into occasional disorientation on-screen as well as a jarringly variable framerate presentation. And yet, despite all this, I found the game’s story enjoyable, its fighting deep enough to be worth learning, and its overall healthy content offering entirely supportive of being a purchase for lovers of anime and fighting games.
I give Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-…