A boat load of crazy!
Oh boy, where to start? I guess I need to point out that this game was my first introduction in to the One Piece universe. A universe that has been going for almost 20 years, and one that has become a fan favorite for anime lovers across the globe.
At its heart, Burning Blood is fighting game. One that includes a heavy roster of bizarre and eccentric characters, but it’s Monkey D Luffy who is the star here. From what I can gather, he is the focal point of the game, as he is in the anime series. I say “From what I can gather”, as the world of One Piece is hard to decipher to an outsider, and proved one of my biggest challenges when playing. After a little research I got the idea of the whole premise.
Platforms: PC, PS4 & Xbox One
Multiplayer: Online competitive matches
One Piece is a pirate anime following the adventures of Luffy, captain of the Straw Hat Gang and seeker of the One Piece, a legendary treasure left behind after the death of the Pirate King, Gol D Roger. But it isn’t just Luffy on the trail of gold and fortune. There are various pirate factions, including Luffy’s nemesis, Captain Whitebeard, that are also hell bent on getting their mitts on the treasure. Most of their time is spent trying to one-up each other in order to gain an upper hand, but every so often they band together to take on a common enemy, which most of the time is the Navy Marines. And Burning Blood is one of those instances.
Luffy’s adopted brother and member of Whitebeard’s crew, Ace, has been apprehended by the Navy and is set to be executed. Because of this Luffy and Whitebeard call a truce and begrudgingly decide to work together to get Ace back. What follows is a seemingly never ending line of battles between the Navy and the various pirate clan members.
Every battle is punctuated by either comic style storyboards, or animated cut scenes. Both of these look great and really pay homage to their source material. There is no English dub here, so it’s all in the original Japanese, complete with subtitles. Most of the fights are variations on the same theme; 1v1, 1v2, 2v2 etc. Sometimes however, it’s not about winning, just about surviving a set period of time (normally 30 seconds). Character selection is not an option in the story mode.
The game is trying to tell a very specific tale, which meant I had to learn many different fighting styles quickly, as the amount of playable characters is immense; each with their own unique moves and talents. Combat is based on a four button approach, attack, unique attack, jump and block. Combining buttons and directions results in different attacks, and mastering them can be quite the challenge. For those that want an easier path, the game offers up a simple control mode, which basically means it does as lot of the auto-combos, making it slightly easier. Only slightly though, as Burning Blood gets very hard, very quickly. As every character levels up after each battle, I found that it required a little grinding in order to make any substantial progress through the story. Luckily, the game provides many ways in which to increase some stats.
There are side modes that allow you to fight with any unlocked character and level them up. Free play is just as it sounds, pick up to three characters to tag with and then three opponents and battle away. There is also a wanted mode, which are challenges set out by the game that get increasingly difficult as the player progresses. Add to that a Pirate crew mode that allows you to create a crew and send it out to battle online in factions and you have a tidy bit of content there that help increase character stats, as well as unlocking new characters, but also highlights the game’s biggest flaw; its repetition.
There is no denying the fact that this game is pretty much one fight after the other, after another, after another. You get the point. Now, while this is absolutely fine when it comes to games like Killer Instinct, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, Burning Blood doesn’t have the fighting finesse or in-depth combat system that those other games possess. As such, it becomes a hard slog of rinse and repeat. And unless you’re heavily invested in the One Piece lore, then the destination just isn’t worth the journey.
While One Piece: Burning Blood may look pretty, offer some nice content and a bizarre cast (including a cross dressing pirate based on Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank N Furter), it wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I can’t even imagine fans of the anime would get much out of this release, especially as this is just the latest entry in a long line of games based on this franchise.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.