Heaven or Hell, this game did well
I love fighters, but outside of Super Smash Bros. (I’m not here to argue about its “validity as a fighter”, so please don’t start), I’m not terribly great. They’re complex, crazy-competitive, and require a ton of practice. And, since I don’t necessarily have enough time to beef up my fighting skills as much as I’d like, I don’t play many of them. But then, one day, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 entered my life. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive about reviewing it. Will I like this game? Can I hone my fighting skills in time? Am I worthy?
Naturally, I began to do what any level-headed reviewer would do in such a situation. I frantically immersed myself into the world of Guilty Gear, learning as much about it as I could. A funny thing happened, though. None of it felt like work. That may sound funny to some of you, but becoming (halfway) competent at a fighting game can be stressful. Doing so under a time constraint even more so. But it wasn’t. Sure I had a lot to learn, but it was all so enjoyable. And it became even more enjoyable as I improved. Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 oozes quality — and it doesn’t take an EVO-tier player to figure that out.
Tried and True
In terms of gameplay, REV 2 is exactly what you would expect it to be. It’s a traditional 2.5D fighter that has you and your opponent facing off mono e mono as you attempt to ruthlessly beat eat other into submission through a mixture of lengthy combos, stylish special moves, and perfect timing. Staple Guilty Gear mechanics such as the Tension Meter, Roman Cancels, and Burst also make their returns, adding just enough spice to fights to make them more varied, but never so much as to overpower the fights themselves. That’s pretty much it at a glance — no bells and whistles, no fancy gimmicks.
But it doesn’t need any fancy tricks. The Guilty Gear franchise may not have been the first fighter on the market, but it’s been long enough that I would definitely consider it to be a staple of the fighting game genre. It doesn’t have to focus on adding in a bunch of weird gimmicks, because it isn’t new. It doesn’t have anything to prove. Though things like the addition of new fighters and character re-balancing will always be ongoing, its core formula works incredibly well. And if something isn’t broken, you don’t need to fix it. Regardless of how it may spin things, all a fighter really needs to do is provide and fluid fighting game experience — REV 2 does just that.
A Character Cornucopia
Quality is the most important thing in a fighting game (or any game, really), but with each passing year quantity becomes a little more important too. We don’t just want an effective way to digitally pummel our friends nowadays, we also want plenty of ways in which to do it! Fortunately, REV 2 delivers on that aspect as well. Sol, Millia, and the rest of the gang from Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATION- make their triumphant return along with the Samurai Baiken — who had appeared in previous GG games — and the business card-wielding Shinobi Answer — a brand-new character — bringing REV 2‘s body count up to a hefty 25.
While the core mechanics of REV 2 are free of any large gimmicks, the same can’t be said for every member of the game’s cast. Past the all-encompassing punches, kicks, and basic combos that each character possesses lies a pool of special abilities for one to master — each with their own advantages and disadvantages. A large number of characters aren’t too difficult to become comfortable with, and are therefore great choices for beginners or those who don’t want to become burdened by learning a laundry list of commands. Or, you know, newbies. I personally found Ky to be great when learning how to become halfway competent with the game.
For those of you with plenty of experience under your belt, or those who appreciate a bit of masochism with their fighting games, REV 2 also has plenty of gimmicky characters — characters like Zato=1, who can summon a shadow creature named Eddie to help him tag-team opponents, or Sin, who must constantly eat lest he lose access to his special abilities. Characters like this — at least in my opinion, are really hard to get the hang of using. I’d recommend staying away from them until you get the basics down. Finally being able to chain things together with those characters is pretty awesome, though. And yes, I know that through first-hand experience. …Getting beaten online by people way better than you counts as “first-hand experience”, right?
The best part about REV 2‘s character roster is that it seems to have something for everyone Considering the nature of fighters, variety can be kind of difficult to pull off. Or, even worse, you can attain variety at the cost of completely unbalancing your game. REV 2 seems to avoid that, however. Whether you’re digging the basics with Sol, or taking advantage of Faust’s interdenominational bag of tricks, there’s enough versatility with the cast that you’re sure to find something that clicks with you. And, what’s more, “complicated” doesn’t mean “better”. Yes, having fancy tricks can help you throw off your opponent. It doesn’t mean that you’ll win, though. That’s because there’s character balance! So long as you know the character you’re using, you shouldn’t have much of an issue duking it out with anyone else. Also, practice. Practice is important.
Run Home to Your M.O.M.my
REV 2 may be a fighter, but I’m sure most people aren’t getting it just for the arcade-style play. Right? No, I’m wrong? Well, the good folks over at Arc System Works have added more ways to play, regardless. Featured in REVELATION, and making its return in REV 2 is the unique M.O.M. Mode. Much like with everything else in the game, your overall goal is to beat everyone up. But! It works differently!
While Arcade and Versus are made so you can easily sit down and play a few rounds, M.O.M. is more of an “in it for the long haul” gameplay mode. The goal of M.O.M. is to become as powerful as possible. As you fight opponents in M.O.M., you obtain Medals. These Medals are used to buy items for the character that you’re using. Items basically come in three flavors. First, there are Scores. Scores level up your character. The Scores orbs you have, the higher your HP and attack. Secondly, there’s equipment. Equipment does exactly what you’d expect it to do — it boosts your characters stats. Finally, there are usable items. These items are, naturally, usable in battle. Low on HP? Use a potion! Tired of someone using ranged attacks? Just chuck a hammer at ’em!
As I’m sure you can figure out, M.O.M. is essentially an RPG version of REV 2. And do you know what? I absolutely loved it. Complicated as it was in the beginning, it didn’t take me long before I was hooked. It’s just so rewarding knowing that through nearly every battle you’ll get stronger, and I very much fell victim to the “well maybe the next person I fight will drop some rare loot!” mentality that would get me stuck in nearly endless farming loops. There’s so much going on with M.O.M., and the fact that you can create highly customized versions of your favorite characters is an absolute blast.
My online experience with REV 2 was not nearly the bloodbath that I had expected it to be. Going in, I assumed that I would just be thrown to the wolves; torn down by pro after pro without so much as a “how do you do”. But that didn’t happen! What awaited me in the world of online fighting was actually a rather pleasant experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone regardless of skill level.
The first two online modes are pretty obvious. There’s Ranked Match, which is a hardcore PvP climb to the top, and Player Match, which allows you to fight with your friends. There isn’t much else to say about either of those, so I won’t. They do exactly what they’re meant to, and nothing more. What I’d like to focus on is REV 2‘s Lobby Mode. Lobby Mode sits comfortably in the middle of the two aforementioned modes, as it allows you to both fight other players and relax at the same time. When you enter Lobby Mode (and have selected your server), you aren’t immediately sent into a fight. Rather, you’re given control of your own (customizable!) avatar and placed into an actual lobby in which you can move around.
There’s a surprising amount that you can do once you’re in a Lobby. Naturally you’re able to fight others, which can be done by walking on over to one of any of the lobby’s arcade machines and waiting for an opponent to walk by. Since you don’t need to worry about ranking, it isn’t as stressful. It also means that you may find difficulty finding an opponent that matches your skill level, however. Most of my fights in Lobby Mode were either against people who did nothing but juggle me or, surprisingly, against people that seemed like this was their first time ever playing a fighting game. There also wasn’t a rematch option. The game would automatically kick you back out the the lobby once the match was over. While it isn’t a huge issue, having the ability to issue a re-match following a fight would have flowed better.
Lobby Mode has more than fighting, though. Players are also able to spend in-game currency to fish (netting them new character colors, avatar parts, figurines and more) or chat with other players. You can even just walk around and explore the scenery. Lobby Mode is a bit unorthodox for an otherwise relatively serious fighter, but I like it. It’s a nice balance of casual and hardcore. And, best of all, it’s almost entirely lag-free!
A KO-uality Experience
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 was a game that made me want to improve it because I appreciated it so much. It’s good. Like, really good. That’s all there is to it, honestly! Whether you’re new to the series (or even the genre), or have been brawling it out for years, REV 2 is a definite must-have for anyone looking for their next fighting game fix.
FINAL VERDICT: 4.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC ; Publisher: Arc System Works, Aksys Games (US), PQube (EU) ; Developer: Arc System Works ; Players: 1 – 2, 1 – 64 (Online); Released: May 31, 2017; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on an EU copy of Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher