More Reviews
REVIEWS Wayward Manor Review
Not even the power of Neil Gaiman and The Odd Gentlemen could save this game from a fate worse than death: a terrible score.

ONE PIECE Unlimited World Red Review
"Unlimited World Red"? More like "Sorta Limited Town and Extended Areas... Red. And Blue. And Some Yellow."
More Previews
PREVIEWS Pillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES Sacred 3
Release date: 08/05/14

CounterSpy
Release date: 08/19/14

Tales of Xillia 2
Release date: 08/19/14

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Release date: 08/19/14


LATEST FEATURES How Bioware Creates Romances
Bioware's games have romances where you might save the world, on the side of course.

We Absolutely Should Be Upset With Club Nintendo's Latest Elite Rewards
Surveys out the wazoo and I get a code for Dr. Luigi?
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Picking Your Gender: 5 Industry Professionals Discuss Queer Identity in Gaming
Women from Naughty Dog, ArenaNet, Harmonix, and Gamespot unite to talk about what they want from games in terms of diversity.
 
Coming Soon

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP Kakulukia
Why Sunset Overdrive Can Go Suck A Lemon
By Kakulukia
Posted on 07/14/14
Yesterday, while cleaning up my media center, I found my copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, which I bought sometime before Christmas last year. I had been pretty excited about this game pre-release, what with it being the first "traditional", albeit shorter than usual,...

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Review

Jesse_Costantino By:
Jesse_Costantino
07/29/09
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Fighting 
PLAYERS 1- 2 
PUBLISHER Aksys 
DEVELOPER Arc System Works 
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Now in Amazing 2D!


Just as I was beginning to fear that we were heading inexorably toward casual-gaming Armageddon, the almighty 2D fighter genre returned from near death to do battle with the Four Horsemen of the Gaming Apocalypse, the harbingers of safe, painless, and easy gaming for the masses.

click to enlargeHordes of exer-gamers, would-be karaoke stars, brain-dead brain-training junkies, and gaming grandmas all gnashed and gnarled at the gates, but earlier this year Street Fighter IV appeared and brought hope—and d-pad weary thumbs—to millions still desperate for a good ol’-fashioned arcade-style rumble. With the release of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, we now have a second holy champion fighting for truth, justice, and the hadouken way.

Following in the footsteps of their heavy metal beat-down title Guilty Gear XX, Arc System’s BlazBlue tones down the campiness, whittles away the redundant character types, refines the fighting mechanics, beefs up the play modes, and lays claim to the best online play yet seen in a fighter. BlazBlue is a leaner, meaner, more serious game than its predecessor, improving on what’s come before it in almost every way.

One of BlazBlue’s boldest moves is to keep the roster down to a mere twelve fighters. By doing so, Arc System has been able to give each character a distinct look, skill set, and strategy, delivering a wonderfully balanced and varied experience—nearly impossible to do in the first entry in a fighting series. Every character is worth playing, with not a throwaway or novelty in the bunch.

At first blush, BlazBlue can be a lot to take in for a newcomer. There is no tutorial, so you’ll have to learn by diving right in. Thankfully, the A.I. difficulty level is kind to the uninitiated, and if you’re playing locally with friends, the basic moves are all intuitive enough to figure out in minutes. Even on the highest difficulty setting, the A.I. is never very far beyond your abilities even if you stick to using just the most basic attacks.

click to enlargeOnly when you take your skills online will you realize how insanely complex and awe-inspiringly fast this game can be. Much like Guilty Gear XX and its four subsequent revisions, high-level BlazBlue gameplay is all about the combos. Learning the ins and outs of branching combos, infinite throw loops, and crouching v. standing v. air combos takes serious effort. If you’re not willing to put in the time, you’ll probably stay offline.

For those who do put in the effort, you’ll discover an incredibly deep fighter. Each character is versatile enough that you’ll constantly be discovering new ways to fight with and against each one. For example, an air combo that works well against one character will not necessarily work well on another, and the standard ground combo you’ve developed for one situation won’t work against all opponents. BlazBlue encourages you to constantly adapt your strategies to suit the situation and your opponent, and the fight mechanics are fluid and responsive enough to keep up.

There are two modes for online play, ranked and player matches. In ranked matches, you’re matched against a single opponent of approximately the same skill level. It’s fast and easy to find a match, and the game does a good job of finding appropriate matchups. In player matches, you join lobbies with up to six people, which also include useful customizations and handy spectator and replay options.

In both online modes, lag is imperceptible and everything runs surprisingly smoothly. The only major issue is that you can only join a player lobby that’s currently between matches—presumably to avoid lag issues mid-match—so it can be an exercise in patience trying to find an open slot. In over 20 hours of online play, I experienced only a few hangs and absolutely no skips, unseen hits, or any other unfair consequence of lag, even while playing opponents as far away as Japan.

click to enlargeBlazBlue continues Arc System’s hand-drawn tradition. Part steampunk and part future-Renaissance, BlazBlue mixes Victorian, Baroque, science-fiction, and fantasy aesthetics seamlessly. Arc System has created a coherent and deep world with a compelling visual style all its own. The game’s menu screens and status bars continue the motif, blending ornate floral designs with futuristic virtual GUI layouts. Complimenting the visual pastiche, the soundtrack tosses together shredding guitars, harpsichord lines, and choral pieces.

In a surprising twist for a fighting game, Arc System has given great attention to story. Rather than just depend on its visual presentation to build the world, Blazblue also includes a rich and complicated story and history. The plot is revealed piecemeal as you play through each character’s storyline. The individual stories weave in and out of one another in unexpected ways, encouraging you to return to earlier plotlines in order to make sense of what you learn later.

Further fracturing the story is the fact that you must follow all possible branches of a storyline by winning and losing each fight and by choosing different paths along the way, a task that could easily take 20 hours or more. The storyline in BlazBlue is either brilliantly convoluted or hopelessly harebrained, depending on your tolerance for time travel, ancient gods, government conspiracies, cat-people, airships, boobs, vampires, ninjas, and lots and lots of spiky hair.

BlazBlue doesn’t reinvent the genre, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the very best console fighters in recent memory. That it follows so closely on the heels of Street Fighter IV means that this is one of the strongest years for console fighting games ever. While BlazBlue is unabashedly brutal online, there’s more than enough offline content to keep beginners busy until they feel skilled enough to brave online play. BlazBlue doesn’t apologize for its complexity, but it does make everyone feel welcome.
B+ Revolution report card
  • Excellent character design
  • Well-balanced abilities and move sets
  • Fluid, tight controls
  • Responsive online play
  • Beautiful and deep world
  • Stiff online competition
  • No tutorial
More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger


More On GameRevolution