By: Mike Chen
It could be a little confusing to track the Guilty Gear series, but the recent Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator is the fifth game in the series but second Xrd game. Make sense? The current iteration hit Japanese arcades in mid-2015 and is now available for both PlayStation consoles of this generation.
Revelator’s controls are a variation of standard fighting controls. The face buttons are for punch, kick, slice and heavy slice, along with one trigger button for dust (a light attack that launches the opponent in the air for juggle attacks). Movement is across a slightly larger range than you usually see with 2D fighters, allowing for a greater span of options, including a full sprint forward and a double jump, all controlled by the d-pad and not the analog stick.
Movement may feel a little less fluid for veterans of Tekken or Street Fighter, and particularly for people who aren’t used to fighting games. But this provides its own unique rhythm, and is consistent, which means that once you get used to it, the timing will be there.
If you like anime, you will love the visuals of Revelator because it looks like an interactive anime. The visuals offer cel-shaded characters in lieu of sprites, and with cinematic visuals and backgrounds, everything fits in the genre — strange character designs, bright colors, exotic backgrounds and (of course) huge boobs on the female characters.
While the game’s announcer is in English, the cut scenes (there are a lot of them) and story material are all in Japanese. So I have no idea how strong of a performance the voice actors are giving. The music is typical anime — a mix of generic rock music and dramatic orchestral hits. Basically, everything fits the package, and it’s gorgeous to take in, though it definitely fits into a niche genre.
Revelator really succeeds in the amount of modes it provides for players, giving enough options to satisfy all types. Before you start a match, you can choose between standard controls or “metal” mode, which provides more flexibility for button mashing — it’s essentially letting beginners in on the stylized fun.
In addition to the standard combos players must learn through repetition and the command list, Guilty Gear games use a “tension” meter below each player. This is one of the unique aspects of the series, as it essentially provides buffs and additional opportunities based on how full it is and the player’s style — both intertwine, and unique opportunities are available as the different tension colors activate (at 25 percent marks).
The standard arcade mode allows the story to unfold character by character, with cut scenes appearing as you progress. The practice mode (dojo) is one of the most involved and creative seen in fighting games, providing a number of challenges beyond the expected “do this move on this bot” type of thing. In some ways, the practice mode offers another experience on its own with its timed challenges.
Of course, the heart of fighting games is player vs. player action, and that takes place online. Any fighting game’s online quality depends on the state of its community, so it’s hard to judge the longevity of Revelator, though given the Guilty Gear series’ cult status, it’s safe to assume this will be a thriving online network. Finally, story mode ties all of the immense cut scenes together into a singular story that also allows you to save by chapter.
Fighting games aren’t for everyone, though Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator offers enough of an in-depth story and newbie options that there are reasons for non-fighters — particularly anime fans — to pick up the genre. For longtime series fans, it’s more of the same, and that’s a good thing.