Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PC) Review

By Athanasios 21.04.2016

Review for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PC

Being in the same vein as Arc System Works' BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena series, the Guilty Gear franchise would get more accessible with each passing game, while remaining a pleasurably deep and hard to master fighter. After more than 10 years since Guilty Gear X2 (which got its last update in the form of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R), the Japanese developer released a new title, the Unreal Engine 3-powered, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, which, while certainly entertaining, is a grand step forward only in terms of visuals.

Being the spiritual predecessor of the BlazBlue series, Guilty Gear is nothing less than a melting pot of complex, deep and aggressive gameplay, a fast heavy metal soundtrack, and an awesomely corny cast of extravagant anime characters. What does Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- bring into the mix? To be honest, not much, which is a shame because fans have been expecting a true sequel, and all they got was a simple update - and mostly in terms of graphics.

The good thing is that the visuals are simply fantastic. While, even to this day, 3D fighters can't hold a candle to the 2D sprites of old in terms of detail and animation, hand-drawing all characters and their respective moves takes time, and, even worse, the end result will lose its appeal when transferred to higher resolutions, as was the case with many ports/"upgrades" of some classic fighting gems of the past.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PC

Arc System Works' solution? Beautiful cel-shaded graphics, with everything being indistinguishable from hand-drawn sprites, while tossing their flaws and restrictions aside, resulting in the developer's best-looking game. The superb quality of the audio-visuals is also evident by great voice-acting, which brings the battlefield to life whenever fighters exchange one-liners and taunts, as well as the adrenaline-pumping, shredding OST. Note, however, that while many additional tunes can be unlocked (Still in the Dark, yay!), some of the best ones are missing, and, sadly, it's not just the sound section that had some losses.

The character line-up, for example, is disappointingly small, with many fan favourites being absent, like hopeless womaniser, Johnny; devilishly/heavenly sexy, Dizzy; the half waitress, half martial artist, all legs, Jam; and, finally, the pink-haired, and badass samurai, Baiken (note: personal favourite), who probably won't even appear in the upcoming -REVELATOR-, unlike the other three. The good thing is that the five new characters (two of them being DLC) are quite impressive, especially the boss-character of this title.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PC

The biggest le-down, however, is the lack of additional modes, which makes -SIGN- feel poor in comparison with the latest BlazBlue iterations. Besides the typical Arcade, Versus, and Tutorial modes (with the latter being great, although some online research will still be needed), there's the Story mode, which carries on after the cliffhanger Arcade ending, and is actually a kinetic novel with no branching paths or fights included; not to mention that the - not that great - story assumes that players know what's going on here, which makes a visit to the in-game library a must.

Finally, there's the, now traditional, M.O.M, which is basically a Survival mode, where medals can be collected in order to upgrade stats/gear. In other words, there's not much to do here, besides going through these few modes over and over again, in order to collect money and start unlocking artwork, more tunes, and so on - something that will disappoint those who prefer solo play.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PC

Of course, most fighting fans nowadays go straight for the online experience, and, similar to the single player modes, it's pretty barebones, with a scarcity of options/automations, a few netcode issues (better with each passing patch), as well as the fact that this - seems to - implement a region-locked network system for ranked matches; therefore… good luck finding someone to battle against. The good news? The actual gameplay is fun - but this isn't just another generic fighter. While the punch-kick-slash-heavy slash button scheme and special moves are simple, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is insanely hard to master.

Besides combos that need absolute precision, or characters that have very unique fighting styles that require a bit of practice beforehand, like all titles from Arc System Works, there is an abundance of weird-sounding terms that one should definitely get to learn before going online, like the - updated - 'Roman Cancel System' that enables exiting attack animations; Dust Attacks, which throw the opponent into the air (great for combos); or a defence move known as 'Blitz Shield.' The only new mechanic? 'Danger Time,' which boosts damage for a couple of seconds, and that activates when two attacks clash, making battles even more aggressive-friendly than they already were.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a great fighter. It's fast and in-your-face, it has a wonderful depth, and, as a cherry on top of this cel-shaded anime cake, it looks beautiful and has a kick-ass metal OST… but, judging from the lack of new material, it can't really be counted as a "true" new entry into the main series. Let it be said once again: this is great. However, it would probably be better to wait for the upcoming Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- instead of spending any money on this one.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Arc System Works

Genre

Fighting

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 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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