Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-
After a long absence, the Guilty Gear franchise came back with Xrd in late 2014 and showed that Arc Systems hadn’t lost a step with that series. Realistically, that shouldn’t have been too shocking because they have been crafting high-quality fighters since the initial end of Guilty Gear. BlazBlue was their most prominent fighting franchise, but the under-appreciated Persona 4 fighters also delivered top-notch fighting action as well. Still, when you’ve got a development team that has a long absence from a franchise, worry can set in.
The fears wound up being unfounded as Xrd was outstanding. Xrd added a visual novel-esque story mode to bring the lore of the series to the forefront – something that Revelator continues, and expands upon nicely. The storyline is heavily-rooted in the political strife that engulfs the world of Guilty Gear, but does go into a lot of depth about its topics as well. The all-subtitled storyline may not be for everyone, but for those willing to give it a shot, there is a lot to like about it. So many games, especially fighting games, don’t try to add depth to the characters or the world – everyone just fights because they fight. Players have accepted this as a fine narrative for decades, and very few franchises try to add more to it than that.
In a way, that is just fine. It’s a fighting game, so you do want to keep the focus on fighting and if that is the only level you care to enjoy the game at, you can do so with ease. The story mode is just one part of a greater whole, but is something that everyone should at least try out. If nothing else, you wind up with a fun way to kill half an hour between extended play sessions – and you will wind up caring about at least a few more characters as a result of it. The anti-robot discrimination plotline definitely made me focus more on Robo-Ky, as you can see him being attacked by kids on the street just for being a robot.
The storyline is reasonably compelling and while I wouldn’t recommend getting a fighting game just for the story, you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time going through the story mode. You may not want to run through it all in one shot though, as there is no fighting in this. If you want something that blends the two, you’re out of luck – so you might want to just break out the story mode to break up a long fighting session.
Xrd was an outstanding fighting game that brought the series to 3D – but with a 2D perspective most of the time, and only broke that rule to make things look cool for flashy attacks. It kept the fast-paced offense-centric style alive, and taught you everything in an efficient manner that made you not only learn which buttons did what, but also what the right context was to use each command. Revelator features even more training-related content to ease you into the game’s physics.
Most games don’t work on that aspect of things, but Revelator makes sure you understand how each character jumps around. Using platformer-esque training is a tad bizarre, but teaches you effectively and shows you the ropes in a very in-depth manner. If you jump into the game without using a training mode, you’ll suffer – but enduring it will reap exceptional rewards and a far greater understanding of the game’s mechanics. Definitely spend some with it before hopping into solo play, or especially online play.
Guilty Gear is a highly-technical game, and can be quite intimidating to newcomers. Beyond training, you can also use a simplified control setup that allows you to pull off flashy moves with simplified button presses. If this is your first entry in the series, or if you find the full experience to be a bit daunting, this is your best bet. Beyond “just” playing it like a fighting game, you can also add some RPG-style tweaks to the mechanics with the MOM mode that gives you handicaps and stipulations. It’s a nice change of pace that helps you fight more efficiently since damage carries over.
Online play is exceptional. While you don’t have a ton of options to enjoy, what’s here is lag-free and that’s all I really want from an online fighting game. It’s nice to have a lot of bells and whistles, but if the core mechanics aren’t done well in an online setting, I have no desire to play the game online even if it has a million modes. Revelator gives you basic one-on-one combat done perfectly, and lag never crept into a match to an obtrusive degree. During our play sessions, we experienced a few needless shots – but no needless losses for a round, let alone a fight. Being able to play the game against either PS3 or PS4 users is nice as well since it ensures an active userbase even if you’re on PS3 hardware.
Visually, Revelator doesn’t improve upon Xrd all that much. Thanks to a few new characters, you do have more animations to work with – but nothing is radically different. Still, when you have one of the best-looking fighting games on the market, you don’t need to do much. The character models still look incredible, with a hand-drawn appearance that replicates the playable anime style the series has wanted since its inception but couldn’t be done due to the limitations of technology at the time. Animations are incredibly smooth, but not so smooth that you wind up with moves that take too long to time in your head.
The Guilty Gear series is infused with heavy metal, and rock permeates its soundtrack. Revelator mixes things up with more low-key music, including some relaxing menu music. It’s a fairly diverse soundtrack, and one you’ll enjoy listening to via unlockable songs in the collection mode. While I do miss being able to have total freedom to listen to songs in a game, at least you can unlock music to do the same thing as a sound test – it just takes a lot more time to do so. The Japanese voiceover work using English subtitles is done fairly well, and gets across the anger involved when necessary.
Overall, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is a fine follow-up to Xrd. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but does offer up new content alongside a whole bunch of storyline progression. If you don’t already have Xrd, then this is a great way to get back into the series – although you will miss out on the storyline from that game. Those who already have Xrd may want to wait for a price drop since there isn’t a ton of new content, but if you’re jonesing for more Guilty Gear, then this is an outstanding entry in the series and well-worth your time.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Aksys Games
This review is based on a digital copy of Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- for the PlayStation 4 provided by Aksys Games.