Before Arc System Works brought us BlazBlue, there was the Guilty Gear series. And while I absolutely love BlazBlue and all of the sequels that followed after its release, a part of me still yearned for a new installment in the Guilty Gear series.
And that want was answered with Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN-. Releasing exclusively to the Sony family for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is the first fighting-genre console release for the series since 2003. That’s a whopping and unbearably long wait of 11 years! Was this enough time for Arc to release a knockout, or is Xrd simply a dud in the series? My review follows below.
My first impression of Guilty Gear Xrd was, “Wow! It’s absolutely gorgeous.” Arc System Works has come a long way since the last entry to this particular fighting series, as shown with the BlazBlue series, but I just couldn’t believe how stunning Guilty Gear Xrd looked for a 2D Fighting game on my PlayStation 4 system. Thanks to all the practice with the Blazblue games, they’ve really mastered the system of incorporating 3D elements and backgrounds in to the environment of a 2D playing game. Guilty Gear Xrd is a treat to look at.
Graphics and visuals aren’t everything, though. Especially when it comes to the fighting game genre. The most important thing is the gameplay and the balance of the characters. If particular characters are unbalanced compared to others and seem too overpowered, then it won’t be any fun mastering the combat skills of those you like if they’re considered weaker to other characters that you’ll run in to just to get pummeled mercilessly. Trust me, online multiplayer or even local multiplayer is just no fun when everyone and their mom is using that same OP character that you just can’t beat unless you go with the same tactic.
I’m pleased to say though that so far in my playtime with the game through regular arcade mode on harder difficulties and even online playing with other players, I haven’t run in to this problem. All the playable characters are balanced for the most part and each one has its own unique style that you can master and take down any opponent with. Every now and then you’ll still encounter someone using some cheap that you’d find in most fighting games, however Arc System Works and the balance of the characters aren’t at fault for this. It’s just dirty playing plain and simple.
I do have one complaint about the characters though. And it’s a complaint that I’ve also had with the BlazBlue games. Simply put, there are just too few characters to choose from. Back in the day of the old-school fighting games this wasn’t really a problem. It’s always been about quality over quantity when it comes to your playable fighters. However in this day and age we’ve seen other quality fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us include 20+ characters, and even Street Fighter and Tekken include 40+. With Guilt Gear Xrd though there are under 20 playable characters and that is including the DLC fighters as well. Again, I understand the phrase quality over quantity, but with the current-gen technology I think the power is there to not only have a wide variety of different characters to choose from but also have the quality to keep them all diverse and not take away from the game by any means.
Another thing I’ll have to nitpick at is Guilty Gear Xrd’s story mode. It’s exactly what it implies it is, a story mode. There are stories to be told about characters, along with amazing cut-scenes to look at. However there is no gameplay to be had here. Just cut-scenes and backstory. I suppose this isn’t too big of a deal for a game in the fighting-genre since the main mode to be played is always Arcade Mode, however a few matches of gameplay thrown in here and there would’ve been great. There are segments to save your progress throughout, so you can pick up from where you left off at certain points in-case you need a break. But I think it would have been better if they instead used these points to let you play a match and then be able to save after.
Back to the positive side of things, I’d like to talk a little about the soundtrack to the game. It’s glorious. It’s everything I loved about the older Guilty Gear games, as well as the newer BlazBlue games, and updated with its own fresh sound. It’s the music you want to hear when you need some adrenaline pumping through your system. From the main menu, to the roster selection, to all the different stages, the soundtrack brings everything to life with a wonderful sound for the ears. The developers did no wrong here for sure!
I’d also like to point out how easy and simple it can be for newcomers to pick up and play this game. It’s not too hard at all to start busting out combos and getting the hang of everything even if you aren’t used to the play-style. At the same time though, there are some incredible moves to master and show off for the pros that play. So it’s a great game for both newcomers and regulars of the series.
Whether you’ve been waiting an eternity for this game, or you’re new to the series and think it’ll be something fun to try out. Guilty Gears Xrd -SIGN- is a nice addition to the series and brings faith that there are amazing things to come from Arc System Works. While there are a couple things I’d like to see improved in future releases, such as a severe lack of characters and a lackluster story mode, I’m still having a lot of fun with this title.