Three updates in as many years, Arc System Works?
When it arrived in 2014, Guilty Gear Xrd was a fighting game Forerro Rocher, after a decade spent slumming it on stale Dairy Milk. It would have been rude not to go back for a second mouthful when Revelator showed up last year.
Now, though? We've got to try and fit a third entry into our already stuffed gobs - you really are spoiling us, Mr. Ambassador.
REV 2 isn't a huge shake-up of the established recipe, but don't let that put you off. It's still a delectable slice of fighting game excellence, with some of the best-looking combat on the PS4.
NO SCHOOL LIKE THE OLD SCHOOL
Y’see, REV 2 runs on the Unreal engine - tech that normally powers fast-paced first person shooters. Here, though, each larger-than-life fighter looks like they’ve walked straight off the page of a manga comic.
Using cell-shaded 3D models, instead of painstakingly drawing thousands of frames of animation by hand, makes all the difference. Everything looks and feels so fluid, especially when the series signature Dust attacks take the action out of side-on 2D for some fully-3D flashiness.
The story mode looks similarly spectacular, but it’s exactly that - a story. There’s no actual gameplay, so unless you want to settle in and watch a several-hours long anime movie, you’re better off diving into REV 2’s traditional arcade mode.
Each character’s backstory is fleshed out by cut-scenes that bookend the fighting, which will be enough to keep series fans happy and explain the basics to newcomers.
SPOT THE NEW FACES
The entire roster has been tweaked and balanced for REV 2, with some being given brand new moves to change up their familiar combos. Even OG players will have to go back to school and learn how their chosen fighter handles now.
There are two additional characters to pick up, too. Angry, revenge-obsessed samurai Baiken has appeared in Guilty Gear games before, but is different enough in this version that she feels fresh. Her parry-heavy, high risk/reward play style isn’t the easiest to master, but you’ll want to stick with it because she’s got such swagger.
Answer is the brand new addition. He’s all business. He’s all ninja. He’s a business ninja. Who knew business cards could be just as effective as ninja stars? Hard to believe this is one of the more restrained character designs, too - there’s always Bedman, who fights with an anthropomorphic hospital bed. While asleep.
REV 2 throws a few extra stages into the mix as well, a welcome addition for anyone that’s spent the past year duking it out on the same selection of levels.
ROMAN CANCEL, NOT ROMAN CANDLE
Once you get stuck into the fighting, REV 2 won’t feel all that different from the previous games. But that’s entirely a good thing - Guilty Gear has some seriously complex mechanics.
Until you understand the difference between red and yellow Roman cancels, you're going to get demolished as soon as you step online. Good job REV 2 has one of the best, most in-depth tutorials you'll find in a fighting game, then. You'll be air-dashing and jump-cancelling in no time, and it feels great when everything finally clicks together.
Once you’ve learned the basics, there’s a Mission Mode with character-specific challenges and tips for dealing with their trickiest match-ups. Combo challenges haven’t changed all that much from the last game, but gain a few extras when your character of choice has new moves in their arsenal.
These are small additions, then, but they’re a major help for anyone that’s not given Guilty Gear a try before. Xrd wasn’t exactly beginner-friendly, so anything to lower that barrier for entry is a big bonus.
DUKE IT OUT
When you're ready to face off against some human competition, REV 2’s online mode is just as refined as previous outings.
Rather than stare at a loading screen, lobbies plonk a cute Chibi version of your chosen fighter into a miniature arcade, where you can pass the time with fishing and football minigames while you wait for a match.
Once you do find a rival the connections are usually excellent, with little to no lag, although it’ll depend entirely on how close you live to your opponent.
Your latency is shown in the corner of the screen while you’re battling it out, down to the exact frame. If you’re serious about climbing the leaderboards, you can head into training mode and artificially create your own lag, so you can perfect the timing on those tricky combos.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 Verdict
With an attractive price, expanded tutorials that make it easier for newcomers to get their head around the complex game mechanics, and new characters that keep long-time series fans happy, REV 2 really is the complete Guilty Gear package.
Unfortauntely, it arrives in the same month as the absolutely phenomenal Injustice 2 - which goes even further to please fighting game newbies with its constant loot drops and much more engaging story mode. Unless you're familiar with Guilty Gear's zany characters and convoluted plot, DC's comic book brawler is simply more accessible.
If you know the difference between a Red Roman Cancel and a Golden Burst, though, then picking up REV2 is a no-brainer.