Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: BlazBlue

Another day, another fighter. That's what I think about most Fighting Game releases. Seems that Fighting Games these days basically fall under one of two categories: The Streetfighter "everyone's move is down-to-toward punch" styled fighters that feature a generic charge meter for your super moves, and the occasional game that wants to be Soul Calibur. BlazBlue falls under the former category. The majority of characters have the same "down-towards" input commands, and the characters all have a Heat Gauge that they can charge in order to unleash they're special attacks. I don't think I could yawn long enough to emphasize how many fighting games use that same style.

But enough with first impressions of the game. Unlike most fighters of the Street Fighter model, BlazBlue has an amazing amount of depth. The first of which is the "Drive" attacks you can use. Doing away with the boring (and clunky on a 4-button-faced controller) system of having 3 varying strengths for punches and kicks, BlazBlue simply gives you 4 buttons to worry about. Weak, Medium, Strong, and Drive. The Drive button works like any other attack button, except that it has a completely different property for every character. One character can use health-draining attacks, one can magnetize his opponents to grab them from across the screen, and one character's Drive is an ability that my friends and I have dubbed "Push the green Skittle, get a combo".

Unlike most fighters where how fast and how hard your character hits are just about the only variance between two characters, the Drive attacks in BlazBlue essentially mean that both players are effectively playing two completely different games with the only common ground being that the goal in both games is "deplete your opponent's health bar". So you'll have a match where one player is controlling the wind to assist with attacks (or deter the other's), and the other is more focused on controlling the screen by filling it with bugs and other obsticals that need to be dodged around in order to attack him.

If there was any reason for someone to not buy this game, I would have to say that it has very fast-paced combat that might be unfriendly towards someone new to the fighting genre. If you're new to fighting games and playing this against people more familiar with the genre, you're likely to have a much harder time figuring-out how everything works. So if you want more of a "Fighting Games 101" course, there are better options out there, but you'll definately want to come back and pick this one up once you have the hang of things.

My only other gripe with the game is the Story Mode. Now, unlike most fighters, this game actually has a fairly interesting story, but that isn't the gripe. The way the story mode is set-up is you pick a character and then play through his/her side of the story. You get in a few fights, you pick a few branching paths, and of course there's different endings depending on your choices. To complete each story, you need to work your way through having done 100% of that character's story. This means viewing all of the sequences... including the losing ones. So if you aren't careful, it tends to lead to situations where you have 2% left to go, and you could swear you've already lost to everyone, but now you have to play it through multiple times to lose to everyone again just to make sure. It comes-off as pointless busy-work when you consider that there's rarely anything of interest to be seen in the losing sequences.

To sum it all up though, BlazBlue is a very fun, and very well-balanced fighting game. There are probably about a dozen other things that I could rant about that attribute to the game's greatness, but at the same time I feel the review is long enough as-is. If you're a fan of the fighting genre (especially 2D fighters), then there's no excuse for not playing this game. If you've never played fighters but are looking to get into them, don't forget to come back and pick this one up once you think you can keep-up with more fast-paced combat. BlazBlue is not a game to be missed.

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