Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PS4) Review

Jae Lee

There’s a little bad guy in all of us.

It’s common knowledge that I’m a big fighting game fan, with my extensive time with game series like Blazblue and Persona 4 Arena. One thing those two titles share in common is that they’re both Arcsys games, and another is that they most likely wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for the Guilty Gear series.

MSRP: $59.99(PS4) $49.99(PS3).
Platforms: PS3, PS4.
Voice Acting: ENG/JPN.
Multiplayer: Online multiplayer, includes cross-gen capabilities.
Demo Availability: Yes, on PSN.

The most apparent change in this new iteration on an entirely new game-engine is the visual fidelity.

Gone are the old 2D sprites, replaced with shiny new 3D models with a striking cel-shading technique that makes them look like incredibly high-res 2D sprites without being so.

Given that all the returning cast animate nearly identically to their 2D sprite counterparts, it’s immediately noticeable how it’s kept faithful to the original design doctrine while adding a ton of detail in the process.

The result is one of the most beautiful fighting games on the market, and I can’t praise them enough for what they managed to accomplish. Just keep in my mind that my experience is wholly based on the PS4 version of the game, as I’ve heard that while still looking good, the PS3 version doesn’t fare quite as well.

Also, whether you like fighting games or not, it’s nearly an undeniable truth that Guilty Gear games have some of the most rockin’ soundtracks of all time. Xrd continues the trend with a variety of remixes and newly composed tunes that will delight your plebeian ears while you’re bringing the pain.

Old rivals clash once more!

It reminded me back to those days where I would put my GGX Dreamcast disc into my CD player to listen to that glorious soundtrack on the go.

Ya, I’m getting old, wanna fight about it?!

On the game play front, most of the core mechanics of Guilty Gear make the transition to Xrd. Dust overhead attacks that go into flashy air combos, instant kill attacks, defensive and offensive bursts – the works.

Thereare notable new additions as well, the biggest one by far called the YRC (Yellow Roman Cancel). It’s been common practice in fighters to allow the canceling of moves after hit/block. YRC allows for the player to cancel a move with 25 meter that’s been whiffed or really, basically anything you can think up. Suffice to say, it opens up a floodgate for offensive and defensive options. It further emphasizes the management and use of meter.

Daisuke: “HEY YO, I HEARD YOU LIKE CANCELS SO WE PUT CANCELS INSIDE OF YOUR CANCELS THAT CANCELS.”

It’s a mechanic with such significance that many of the hardcore fan base aren’t happy with it at all, while others are excited with the seemingly limitless possibilities it provides.

I’m not good enough at the game to judge whether or not it’s beneficial or harmful to the series in the long run, so I’ll let the pros handle that.

CANCELS INSIDE OF CANCELS, YOU SAY?! HYPE! GIMME FIVE!

Having played through the story mode of Persona 4 Ultimax not too long ago, I’ve gotten used to the hands-off approach to the storytelling in the Arcsys fighting games as of late.

The GGXrd story mode is the logical next step, where the interaction the player has during it is limited to saving the game periodically and looking up key terms in a futile attempt to make sense of the storyline.

It’s a glorified 3 or so hour anime to watch, and while not quite as animated as a standard anime, resorting mostly to shaky stills and portrait models dishing out the dirt, there are some flashy fight scenes thrown in for good measure.

Outside of the story mode, there are the usual suspects of training, challenge, versus, network and the like, but the new mission mode that teaches the player not just combos but actual practical strategies is a welcome addition.

The character roster feels limited out of the box with only 14 characters to choose from, but it’s understandable to a degree because it follows the trend of a fighter making its debut on a brand new engine.

What’s not acceptable is having to grind for points to unlock the final character when you already have such a limited roster to begin with. It’s a shoddy technique to extend the life of the game’s single player experience and is wholly unwelcome, especially given how I’d rather spend those points unlocking artwork and original soundtrack tunes.

The story mode in GGXrd is basically an anime movie. A very confusing one at that.

Last but not least, the net code felt relatively smooth and on par with the better Arcsys efforts, but the network mode has taken a step back in functionality with its cumbersome lobby system.

Gone are the neat little customizable avatars and virtual arcade cabinets. They’re replaced with a create a lobby system where you make your own little arcade lobby, but all it managed to accomplish was make finding matches more difficult and add extra steps between you and your buddy having a good time playing against each other.

After how well they did with the BBCP/P4U2 network modes, I expected this to be an improvement and not a step backwards.

Still, even with its faults, GGXrd is an excellent foundation for the inevitable half dozen or so iterations to come. While it may prove to be a divisive title in the hardcore community, it’s an excellent point for newcomers to jump in and learn firsthand why the name “Guilty Gear” commands so much respect in the fighting game community.

Fun Tidbit: I’ve taken to maining Sol because I’m vanilla as hell and also, there isn’t any particular character I currently identify with.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • The Guilty Gear soundtrack will still “ROCK YOU”
  • Unique roster that control wildly different
  • Beautiful new character models and levels that look crisp and detailed

Bad

  • Limited roster
  • Having to unlock Sin for 200k points
  • Network mode feels unintuitive and a step back from Blazblue:CP/P4U2
8.5

Great

Jae Lee
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.
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