Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 10.07.2015

Review for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PlayStation 3

Although a multitude of updates, revisions and spin-offs of the Guilty Gear series have released over the years - one of the most recent being Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R on Steam - a true new entry has been a long time coming. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- finally hit American shores in December last year, but only just recently made the transition to Europe. With Arc System Works fighters aplenty, and the genre in general consistently producing fresh goods, does Xrd do enough to stand out from the competition?

If there is one area Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- does stand out from the crowd, it's in the sublime new visual design. Traditional animated sprites are done away with in favour of cel-shaded 3D graphics that give the impression of sprite work, producing one of the most exquisite looking side-on fighting games to date. By disabling background lighting effects, the 3D models don't appear as such, but the fact the game is rendered entirely in 3D allows for stylish close-ups that enable the excessive detail to be shown off before, after and throughout fights.

This bold switch in aesthetics takes away nothing from how the game is played, and is instead used to effectively create the flashiest and most dynamic of fighters. At its core, this is still same old Guilty Gear, with the added benefit of some rather awesome looking special moves and finishers that games of this ilk are known for, taken to another level entirely with 3D. The short scenes for moves like instant kills are anime-level good, subtracting all of that pixellation that a zoom-in of sprite characters normally presents. There are no pauses for transitions mid-battle, as the camera instantly closes in and spins around the arena as necessary to show off the quality 3D scenes and specials.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PlayStation 3

Staying on a positive note, Xrd is the fast-paced and familiar fighter that series fans know and love from its birth. Since Guilty Gear X2 in 2002, there has been little to cheer about, so Xrd can be viewed as the true revival of the franchise. On the surface, the half- and quarter-circle inputs that have been staple in many a fighting game allow it to be picked up quickly by any casual, but like most 2D-based fighters, there is a strong technical side consisting of all sorts of bizarre terms, including Roman Cancels, Blitz Shields and Dust Attacks, plus the Tension gauge that builds and decreases as an array of moves use it, which combine to create a whole other level of hardcore gameplay. A new mechanic in the form of Danger Time, occurring when two attacks clash, increases damage dealt for a brief period of time, really putting battles on edge where both fighters can be tempted to go for broke to make the most of it. The game system as a whole isn't particularly alienating to newcomers, as the advanced stuff can be learned over time with the help of in-game explanations, but there is a fair bit to understand and get the handle of.

The tutorial sections themselves are plentiful, and a list of mid-game scenarios to practice that help to detail when best to put into motion particular moves is especially appreciative, although there is still the case that some parts aren't fully explained and can be tough to get the head around what must be done. Some combo inputs require rather precise and quick timing, which can be difficult to nail down, as well; some indicators of when to hit buttons or some AI demos would certainly have helped.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PlayStation 3

The lavishly vibrant and colourful presentation doesn't really reflect the rest of the game, though. Although Xrd brings the series into the present day at last, it is severely lacking in too many areas, namely in character selection and modes. It is generally a given that fresh entries in fighting series begin with a smaller-than-usual roster, but the cuts made always leave a lasting impression of disappointment, particularly when certain names that have been there since the original title are absent. Minus the two DLC characters, just 15 characters are playable in Xrd, but effort has been made to choose and create those that offer a variety of playstyles to keep things fresh and balanced. Two new faces in the form of Bedman and Ramlethal offer unique games that feature duplicating and long distance moves, respectively. Over the top and crazily designed, the pair fits into the Guilty Gear universe like they were there all along.

The width and breadth of stuff to do is limited, unfortunately. The typical eight-stage Arcade mode is a given, plus the usual versus options, and the M.O.M. (Medal of Millionaire) mode is a good distraction for a while, where opponents must be defeated under set conditions to unlock rewards to customise fighters with, progressing over a board game of sorts. Apart from unlocking bits and pieces in the gallery, the online mode should be the main draw, but it's quite botched due to the lobby system being the only way to organise matches - there are no ranked or unranked options to sit in to immediately find a fight. It can be a long wait to find anyone up for a fight, whether it's patiently sitting for someone to join a room, or to find other lobbies with others that actually do want to play. Who knows if there are people also constantly flicking between rooms, trying to find opponents? The lack of an auto-search ranked and unranked system hurts this important side of the game - one that isn't exactly booming with activity a lot of the time. Most of the crowd will already know that the best option is to seek out forums to organise matches with those that do still play online.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PlayStation 3

Guilty Gear Xrd's story mode is a bit of an odd one, as well. Any instance of actual gameplay is completely non-existent, and instead plays out as hours of cut-scenes, with breaks to save in between. This does pose the question of whether this is good or bad; after all, so many story modes of fighting titles can be overdrawn, and many players just want to see them through as soon as possible, whacking the difficulty down to the easiest, but for others, the break-ups of battles and path choices keep the game interactive and save the boredom from creeping in. With how exaggerated the plot in Xrd actually is, it can be a chore to sit through; preparing the mind for some anime episodes is really the best way to approach it.

Time and budget constraints may have forced this hand, and that can probably be said for the rest of the package that doesn't relate to the graphics engine. It is great to finally get a proper and new Guilty Gear, but there is much to be done to take this revival into the realms of being a truly top 2D fighter. Already announced, the next Xrd entry, REVELATOR, will hopefully look to capitalise on SIGN's shortcomings, but Guilty Gear fans can take a great deal of comfort that there is a solid base to work from with the accustomed and highly intense battle system.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a very pretty face, but under the make-up is a rather constrained fighting title that doesn't advance the series as well as hoped. The scarcity of modes, characters and online options is weak, and the story mode isn't exactly most people's idea of entertainment. Xrd is built for the long-time fans that have been eagerly awaiting this revival in the series, and in that regard, its high calibre and fast-paced fighting system ticks all the right boxes. It suffices for now, but all eyes will be on REVELATOR to take the series to the next level.


Arc System Works







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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