Guilty Gear -Strive- (PlayStation 4) Review

By Steven Mattern 14.08.2021

Review for Guilty Gear -Strive-  on PlayStation 4

Traditional 2D fighting games have a long and extensive history, and Guilty Gear is a franchise that began all the way to the original PlayStation. One of the problems with the series, though, is the topic of accessibility of its mechanics. It's one of the reasons why many people don't consider Guilty Gear as a top tier franchise in the genre, as it has trouble drawing in newcomers. Guilty Gear -Strive- tries and succeeds in addressing this fault; doing so in a beautiful and intuitive new instalment.

The mechanics of this game are almost as solid as the netcode backing it up. While slower and more ground focused than previous titles, the combat is still engaging and keeps you on your toes. The stable Roman Cancels in particular, offer varied means of defence or offence, depending on how they're used. They require half of the Tension meter but can save you from an ongoing pummel or assist in increasing your offensive pressure. Gatling combos as they were in previous Guilty Gear games, and Instant Kills, have gotten the axe in this instalment, which has taken some of the variety away. This has in turn lent the game with a more approachable atmosphere. That said, each character in the starting roster of fifteen is distinct in his or her own right. The two new fighters, Giovanna and Nagoriuki, are already becoming fan favourites.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear -Strive-  on PlayStation 4

Online fighting games can live or die by the stability of the servers and more importantly, the matches themselves. After playing the provided preview version, and the launch version of Guilty Gear -Strive-, it's a double-edged sword. On one end you have the lobbies and on the other, the sublime match experience. The lobbies are where you create a custom avatar and interact with battle stations to either be ready to fight, or initiate a match with another player. Getting the two points to meet can prove to be cumbersome. However, one can opt instead to go into Training mode.

Your avatar is automatically placed in your recommended rank's floor and is ready to accept a challenge. Unfortunately, players can get stuck into a loop where no one can match up with them. Regardless, the netcode is some of, if not the absolute best in regional and worldwide play. It is amazing what implementing rollback can do, and -Strive- is a shining example of why more series should adopt it. Cross-regional bouts were tried, and it's surprising how well the game performed having a stable wired connection.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear -Strive-  on PlayStation 4

Arc System Works has also mastered its 3D model and background techniques last seen in Dragon Ball FighterZ. The art in this game is simply the best any fighting game has ever looked. From the character models, to the parallaxing, and intricately detailed backgrounds, the presentation of Guilty Gear -Strive- is incredible. The colours are vibrant, and the animation style of the character models is so polished that you forget they're 3D until the camera shifts from the 2D perspective. The characters and animations are taken outside of the fights and into a cinematic Story Mode and it surprisingly translates well.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear -Strive-  on PlayStation 4

Think of Strive's Story Mode as an anime mini-series. It's definitely tailored for veterans of the series who know these characters and lore from previous titles. Arc System Works did include an extensive timeline and glossary to assist newcomers and returning players into catching up with the world's events, but players starting with this may want to watch or read external sources. It's a worthwhile task, because the story is quite well paced with suspense and action.

A hallmark of the Guilty Gear series is the soundtracks for each game, and -Strive- doesn't disappoint. The OST at hand keeps this steady rock beat and feel to it, but isn't afraid to experiment with a couple of character themes. While it's good to try new things, some of the ideas don't quite feel distinctly… "Guilty Gear," these being May and Ramlethal's themes. It's important to mix character personality with the series' signature sound, and these two themes don't quite get that balance right. Of course, if you don't like a theme, you can always use in-game currency to get new songs to play in your matches instead.

Screenshot for Guilty Gear -Strive-  on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Guilty Gear -Strive- is a superb entry in the 2D Fighter genre, and has the looks, sounds, and stability to back the claim. While smaller compared to other titles, the initial roster of fifteen fighters feels distinct, and most picks have a fitting theme to complement their personality and playstyle. The Story Mode does a great job showcasing who these characters are, while providing a good narrative to boot - and while the act of getting matched with other players can be a pain, the online play experience is incredibly solid. Let's rock!

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Arc System Works

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

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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