Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 24.05.2017

Review for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 on PlayStation 4

In videogames, whether mankind enters an era of prosperity, or is doomed to extinction, is ultimately irrelevant. All these years of averting fictional disasters or dealing with the aftereffects can leave one feeling a little cold. What is it, then, that drives us to keep playing? It's the conflict. It's the unbridled intensity that can only be found while dancing on the edge of oblivion. At least, that's how it feels when playing Guilty Gear. After all, when every match begins with the words "Heaven or Hell," what else needs to be said?

Through nearly two decades of revisions, sequels, and spin-offs, the Guilty Gear franchise has established itself in the highest echelons of the fighting game genre. It's been a long, hard road, and Arc System Works has no intention of slowing down. Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, its latest release, is a class act from stem to stern. Not only is it an excellent update for long-time fans, it's the perfect starting point for anyone that has an inkling of interest in the genre, but is perhaps just a little too hesitant to jump in.

Before going any further, it's important to point out what makes this franchise so appealing. Is it the outlandish character designs and rocking soundtrack? Maybe it's the convoluted yet charming storyline? Actually, it all comes down to one word: versatility. From the character select screen to the final round, the player has all of the tools they need to win. In terms of both offense and defence, the options are innumerable. Even the seemingly superfluous mechanics are worth understanding, because the tiniest detail can make all the difference. Of course, the challenge is that the opponent has access to all of these same tools.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 on PlayStation 4

There's no better quantifier for versatility than a diverse and interesting cast of playable characters. With the Xrd series, Arc System Works has achieved what could be considered the zenith. Every fighter is wholly unique, and yet they're also approachable. Nobody ever comes off as gimmicky or nearly impossible to properly utilize. At the highest level, they're capable of mind-melting techniques. Also, despite all of the subsystems that pile onto one another, the games are well-balanced. A few characters are dominant, a couple tend to struggle, but everyone is capable of doing serious damage. It says a lot when the average tournament sees nearly the entire roster make an appearance in the top 32.

It's also worth noting that this series, as daunting as it can be, is still very accessible. Almost all of the inputs are easy to figure out. Special moves are performed via simple motions, and putting together a combo is just a matter of pressing a series of buttons. However, the games can also be as deep as an endless chasm. It'll take thousands of matches to figure out the intricacies of a single character. Those once simple combos will balloon into very complicated affairs that demand a high level of execution. That's not to say that being able to consistently chain super jumps into air dashes with only a few frames of leeway is required in order to win, but it certainly couldn't hurt. For most players, their immediate worry will always be the legion of mix-ups, frame traps, 50-50s, and nasty wake-up scenarios that define the average match. There's a lot to absorb, and it's not for the faint of heart.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 on PlayStation 4

Yeah, this still sounds like a bit much, doesn't it? Thankfully, the Guilty Gear Xrd series has some of the best tutorials in the genre. They cover, in exhausting detail, absolutely everything a newcomer needs to know. The Mission mode is a particularly standout feature. Each mission is designed around a situation that a fighter will find themselves in. This includes basic stuff like breaking out of throw attempts, unique mechanics such as blitz attacks, and character-specific scenarios like Zato's dreaded corner traps. While completing these missions won't guarantee mastery, at least players will get an idea of what to expect. There's also an in-game FAQ that's accessed from the pause menu, which is quite nice.

Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 further refines the series via numerous additions. The most obvious of which is the inclusion of two new characters, Baiken and Answer. Furthermore, previous DLC-only fighters Dizzy and Kum Haehyun are available from the outset. Raven also no longer requires a heap of world dollars (Xrd's in-game currency) in order to unlock.


 
The entire roster has seen a slew of tweaks. Moves that were inadequate or outright useless have been given a bit more utility, while others that were just a bit too one-dimensional or overpowered have been weakened somewhat. To give an example, Slayer's "bite" command grab grants the vampire a buff. The next special move he lands will be a guaranteed counter hit, which can lead into some devastating combos. Conversely, Millia Rage's jumping Heavy Slash has been changed entirely. It's no longer a spinning slash that can easily push the opposition into corners. That said, nerfed characters like Millia and Sin Kiske (who now has to pay more attention to his calorie meter) are still as beastly as ever, provided their players are willing to make some adjustments. The RTS-inspired Jack-O' seems to have gotten the worst of it, though. Her minions aren't nearly as durable as before, and their spawn timers reset whenever Jack-O' is hit. Needless to say, she has to work much harder than before in order to stay competitive.

The newest entrants are superb. Fan-favourite Baiken has made the transition to Xrd quite gracefully. As with previous Guilty Gear entries, her strengths lie in controlling space and defensive play. Central to this style is the quasi-projectile tatami gaeshi, which can create openings or keep the opponent away. It'll take quite a bit of practice to make full use of her Azami and Suzuran special moves, but they can be effective counters against the overly aggressive. Answer operates in much the same manner as his boss Chipp. He's a ninja that specializes in fast-moving attacks that blindside fighters. In most cases, his strategy is going to revolve around confining scroll setups, and a business card that also functions as caltrops.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 on PlayStation 4

As far as changes to the underlying system go, the most significant is that purple roman cancels are much faster, so they're no longer easy to bait and punish. For the uninitiated, roman cancels allow players to cancel out of attacks, at the cost of tension, a.k.a. meter. Typically, these are used to extend combos or to avoid committing to a move that will be countered. A purple roman cancel occurs when a move is cancelled during its cooldown. Due to its high (50%) tension requirement, this technique won't change the nature of the game, but it does serve as a nice last ditch method for recovering from a potentially fatal mistake.

A fair amount of story content has also been included in this release. In Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, DLC characters didn't have their own episodes. That minor issue has now been rectified. As with the rest of the cast, these episodes take place shortly before the events of the story mode. Also, an entirely new chapter called "Afterstory" has been added. It's well worth viewing. For the online warriors out there, a few quality-of-life features have been added, including the option to do tournament-style "first to two" match sets in ranked mode.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

To put it bluntly, there's never been a better time to jump into this fantastic fighting game. Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 is the total package. The new story content is nice, but the changes and additions to the roster really bring everything together. All of the characters are deep, complex, and rewarding to learn. The competition tends to be fierce, if not entirely on another level, but there's never any reason to feel put off. This title provides all of the necessary resources to help newcomers make meaningful progress. In short, you don't want to miss out on one of the best fighting games of the year.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

PQube

Genre

Fighting

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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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