Third dimension!? I don't need a third dimension!
In the current world of gaming, 3D graphics are pretty much the norm. From your beat ‘em ups to your shooters and RTS’s, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern game that has 2D graphics that doesn’t suck ass. Out of all the games I can think of, all have had some degree of third dimension, albeit some occasions this dimension was only implied, Viewtiful Joe, for example, was ‘semi-3D’
So, it is with great pride that I introduce Guilty Gear X2, one of the few true 2D games on the market nowadays. And, what’s more it doesn’t suffer from this lack of a dimension, but rather thrives on it.
Guilty Gear X2, from Zoo Publishing and an assortment of other companies, follows on from the arcade classic Guilty Gear X and consists of all the things you expect from a ported arcade game, and then adds a whole platter of other features. You get the classic Arcade, plus Story, Training, Survival, Mission and M.O.M, Versus, as well as a gallery, which really isn’t a game mode, but is built up, from your progress in the other modes. Arcade and Training are exactly what you’d expect, but Survival is a little different. By dealing damage to your enemy, you gain levels. Every 20th level, you get to fight a ‘shadow character’. These characters, called ‘Daredevils’, have better abilities than the standard ones and are a lot harder to kill. Mission mode sees you fighting certain scenarios, such as only being able to use Overdrive moves to kill your opponent, or having to Time Out the match. M.O.M. mode is a little complicated, involving a Medal meter which affects your score, but is pretty much ‘slash ‘n kill’, like every other mode.
Versus mode is the same as other games, but you can select whether you wish to fight a human or CPU opponent. This is a perfect place to see how your fighting techniques will hold against a specific character outside of Training, but doesn’t really serve much else of a purpose.
Story mode is where this game truly shines, however. In Story mode, it’s basically you fighting specific enemies with a narrative explaining why before and after the fight. Each character (aside from one hidden one) has 3 different endings, and the ending you receive depends on how you did in the fights. Using an Instant KO attack on one enemy, for instance, can often change the ending. Be warned, however, that you are not told the criteria for these endings, and that some characters endings, usually the third, are only accessible after you have gotten a certain ending of a different character. In Story mode, sometimes your character will start fighting without you, but these are scripted and so you should not worry about dying without control. Some aspects of Mission mode are carried over into Story mode, so you may find that your character or your opponent has some strange new abilities in one fight.
These abilities can be placed into 2 categories: Gold and Ex. Gold abilities are always positive and provide some instant benefits, for instance Gold Sol moves a lot faster than Normal Sol. Ex abilities are new and adjusted moves added to your command list, which can sometimes override old moves. ‘Daredevil’ characters have these Ex command lists, and defeating them will unlock them for you to use for that character, e.g. beating Daredevil Slayer unlocks Ex Slayer for use in some game types (Not story). Ex can also be unlocked in 2 other methods, but I’ll leave that a secret. Gold abilities are unlocked in a similar fashion, but I would truly be spoiling the fun if I said how to get those. Rest assured, though, that all 3 methods of unlocking Gold for a character mean that you would have to have unlocked Ex for them as well.
Which brings me to the issue of the game’s lifespan. In order to get Gold for all characters in the game, well that’ll take an awful long time, and that’s only through one of the three methods. And besides, once you’ve unlocked it all, you’ve still got that Versus mode to unleash doom on the unwilling sap you’ve ‘convinced’ to pick up the other controller and challenge your total mastery of the command list. Trust me, you’ll run out of ‘volunteers’ well before you get bored of the game.
And that’s because of the wide variety of characters. Each one has an unique fighting style and command list (except for Ky and Robo-Ky, who share some basic moves), although the button combinations for moves are sometimes used for several characters for the same level of move, e.g. the command for an Instant KO attack is the same for pretty much everyone bar May and Dizzy (who doesn’t have an Instant KO attack). With all the characters to choose from in Guilty Gear X2, you’ll soon have a favourite character (For me, it’s Ky Kiske), and a least favourite (Mine is Sol, purely for the challenge of fighting him as Ky)
Oh, and did I mention the music? That stuff is real top-notch ear grabbing heavy metal rock tunes that you’ll be humming to for days, possibly even years to come. It’s the sort of music you’d air guitar to, if you weren’t busy beating the crap out of people, which os possible thanks to the Sound Test option. Each tune accurately portrays the character well, be it Ky’s organ-into-truly-wicked-guitar-solos, or Bridget’s girly-tune-played-in-a-manly-way, which really suits Bridget as he’s a guy. No fooling. The most effeminate character in the game is not even a girl. Wow.
The same thing can be said about the awesome visuals. So they’re 2D, so what? You won’t care. It just wouldn’t be Guilty Gear X2 with 3 dimensions. This game series has always thrived on its use of anime stylings to make it stand out from the crowd. (That, and the 9ft tall character Faust) All the blows are brutal enough, the characters so elaborately designed and the settings so meticulously drawn that you won’t give a darn as to the 2D graphics. Rather, you’ll just sit there delivering blow after blow.
Now, it’s at this point where I say what I don’t like about a game, and this time is no different. Well, there really isn’t much I can say about a game like Guilty Gear X2 that I don’t like. Perhaps the game can be a little difficult at times, and perhaps a few more characters wouldn’t hurt, but nothing overly major.
Whatever needs to be done, it sure isn’t adding a third dimension. I’ve seen what happens when 2D brawlers try to go 3D, and I have suffered because of it. (I’m looking at you, King of Fighters.) Guilty Gear X2 does not need another dimension, in fact it does extremely well without it.