By: Ted Chow
As a person that follows the competitive fighting scene, I would have to say I was stoked to get my hands on Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-. And I have to say it delivered on the entertainment value. With fluid looking animations and solid combos, if you’re looking for a new fighting game to indulge upon, then I would highly recommend this for those that enjoy a feast for the eyes.
If there is one critical aspect to any fighting game it has to be the controls and how they respond to inputs. As I have seen countless fighting game champs lose to input errors or missing that opportune combo, mastering the controller, let alone a fighting game, is essential for future champs. With support for a controller and a fighting stick, it is highly recommended to use a fighting stick for that definitive arcade experience.
As I played on both, the controller is decent enough on taking your inputs, though execution of long chained combos is rather difficult and more prone to fumbling fingers syndrome. Otherwise, the controls are smooth with plenty of customization of buttons.
With gorgeous character sprites and vivid environmental stages, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a sight to behold. The game is most definitely inspired on the anime aesthetic and is very appropriate for the history of the Guilty Gear series that had its humble beginnings on the original PlayStation. Carrying on that history to today’s visual medium, the game has kept the spirit of that lineage intact and thriving.
The soundtrack is your Rocky inspirational mash up with that J-Pop arcade flare to round out the matches. If there was one minor nuisance it would have to be how your character can blend in with the environment on certain stages; something that takes getting use to for the eyes.
If I had only “played” the story mode movie that lasted close to four hours, I would have thought this entire game was an original animated movie. Luckily it told me to play arcade mode first to reiterate the fact that this is indeed a fighting game and not an epic film.
That isn’t to say that the movie wasn’t enjoyable — as it definitely was — it just would have been a good warning to say that the story movie would encompass four hours and that I should have put some popcorn in the microwave. Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the animated production, and it really gives the characters some interesting back story to what may initially come off as weird character designs.
As a fighting game, you will be greeted with the standard fare of modes. Arcade and multiplayer are the meat of the experience with smaller modes to act as filler essentially. The game is pretty friendly towards newcomers as the tutorial mode was insightful and entertaining with character banter. I wouldn’t expect anyone to master the large number of combos for each character, though, as that could literally take hundreds of hours.
Smaller modes such as challenger and M.O.M pit you up against the A.I to complete different objectives to continue onward. Most of the modes give you game cash to spend in the gallery to unlock art, soundtracks and other miscellaneous items.
What is a fighting game without its roster of characters? And you would be right as the game spouts 17 playable characters (if you count the DLC). While relatively low compared to games such as Street Fighter, it doesn’t seem lacking when trying to master your favorite characters.
Each character plays differently and specializes in certain areas such as grappling or range; but overall, all characters have the basic move sets for the primary attack buttons. Special moves are unique to every character as well as usage of the tension meter and burst functionality. Other moves are also readily available, but it would probably be best to figure them out in the game as there are plenty.
As with other fighting games, you have a single life bar that must be depleted to end the round. The match consists of three rounds with a timer to promote aggressiveness and faster paced action. Special buffs can also be acquired if certain conditions are met, such as having less than a certain percentage of life left or clashing with your opponent.
A tension bar is built through successful attacks or damage and is used to execute special moves or blocks. An interesting mechanic in the form of a cowardice feature negatively affects your tension bar if you aren’t fighting aggressively. The burst mode also acts as a defensive or offensive combo breaker when backed in a corner.
Multiplayer is where you will most likely be playing after your initial tutorials, either with friends or online opponents. You will be brought into a lobby to be queued, and there is cross play available between the PlayStation 3 and 4. Game cash can be used to customize your online statistics card with images and other fancy decals.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a fine addition to any fighting enthusiast’s collection. With colorful sprites and high in-game animation production, the game offers a great first impression and continues the momentum forward. For the best experience I would fly to Japan and play in the arcades with the best fighting champs, but I am content with playing from the comforts of my sofa. I hope for the success of the franchise and will continue to root for the inner fighter in everyone! — Insert Scarface theme-track —