It’s a great time for fighting game enthusiasts. We’ve got some amazing new sequels out in the market, and after the bumpy launch of Street Fighter V, fans can look forward to much more streamlined experiences from classics like Tekken 7 and relative newcomers like Injustice 2 (both reviewed by Nazih Fares the past months). Now while you may be familiar with these other names, another series with a cult following has recently put out an installment on PlayStation 4, and it goes by the strange “weeby” name Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2. And I’ve gotta say; I think I may be in love with Guilty Gear.
The series is no youth, and it was introduced to fighting enthusiasts in the summer of 1998, when the market was seemingly divided between Capcom and SNK with almost no room for third parties. Fast forward to today and it seems as if we’re witnessing a the resurrection of the brand with the beautiful and stylish Xrd chapter. The folks over at Arc System Works have really worked on this game, and I honestly think it’s a modern classic. Let’s take a look at what makes it so special
Right off the bat, I feel Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 benefits by trying to appeal to both old fans of the saga that has almost twenty years under its belt, and newcomers that maybe don’t go as much for games with the artistic direction and combat of anime-style fighting games. Either way, Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 has something for you.
It should be noted that Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 is more or less DLC for Revelator, which has been out for a while now. I say ‘more or less’ because Rev 2 isn’t just a content add-on; rather it tweaks the game system with a whole host of new balances and tweaks, as well as adjustments to moves and characters. What I really admire is that the game lets you choose what experience you prefer. If you want to play with Revelator’s old rules (maybe you’re up against a friend who has not yet adapted to the changes) you can select them instead of the Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 options in the options. The most obvious addition is the appearance of two new characters that go beyond all those previously presented, both “standard” or in the form of DLC, to achieve a cast consisting of twenty-five different faces.
Let’s just establish one thing. Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 is “weeby” as all hell. This is an anime fighter through and through. This is a good thing in that it has smooth, fluid animations and cel-shaded graphics but it can get a bit unsettling at times with the weirdness and downright offensive at times with some of the female characters who were clearly designed to confuse and arouse 13-year-old boys. However, the game’s weirdness manages to work in a strange way, and the fact that the story is fleshed out in incredibly detailed cutscenes means you’re much likelier to relate to the characters and their struggles.
The cast of characters is bizarre and varied, and I recommend trying everyone at least once. In this regard, Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 reminded me most of Blazblue. But I found myself liking this much more than Blazblue, mainly because of the fluidity. Your characters can easily string attacks together, and on the flipside you can counter chain attacks to make sure you don’t get stunned. The game gets even crazier when you factor in certain special moves like Jack-O’s, which basically involve little traps or obstacles on the screen. Suffice to say, you’ll have to really focus to keep up with the fighting action.
The game’s new characters are as strange as ever, and they include incredibly unique folks like Answer, a Business Ninja (yes you read that right). I think Answer is the perfect way to explain what Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 characters are like; seemingly ridiculous but surprisingly genuine and relatable. He’s a skilled fighter but he also values order and discipline. This translates into their fighting style as well. Answer’s stance is formal and businesslike, and tosses business cards and stamps seals in his special attacks. The game’s fighting style offers a wide range of swift moves and and surprise attacks. You can also toss in various special moves to get the perfect combo. Overall, the fighting system has some of the most fluid and fast-paced combat I’ve seen.
Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 manages to provide the player with a list of intuitive controls, along with a full list of specials and combos, and you’ll soon find yourself zipping around and taking advantage of Unreal Engine 3’s fluid motion with wisdom and art. One of the game’s trademarks is the spectacular Instant Kill, which essentially consists of an attack that can end the clash prematurely, obviously upon meeting certain conditions.
Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 is one of those games where you’ll soon find that 25 characters is almost too many. There is a stunning degree of diversity in the cast here. That’s why the Dojo is a great thing, as it furnishes you with a large list of tutorials based not only on the (many, many) game mechanics that you should master well before having fun at competitive levels, but also on the various countermeasures to be studied to cope with the most pernicious attacks of the various characters.
One truly amazing aspect of this title is the netcode, which has held up amazingly in the online matches I’ve had. I experienced almost no lag, which is insane for a game with this much going on.
Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2 was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 digital code of the game provided by PQube. The game is also available on PlayStation 3 and PC via retail and online stores. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• A unique cast
• Great 2D/2.5 combat
• Very fluid animations
• Varied gameplay
• A thorough combat tutorial system
• Combos can be tricky to master
• Usual anime weirdness and offensive character designs
• Music can get repetitive