Guilty Gear X2 Reader Review
Sammy's Guilty Gear X2 is one of those most accursed of games - a 2D one-on-one fighter. In my line of work I see again and again people picking up the likes of this game, or Capcom Vs. SNK 2 etc, they take one look at the box and announce "its rubbish, look at the graphics". Little do they know how good these games can be, but still Guilty Gear X2 will be ignored by the masses for being 2D. To make matters worse, in the case of the latest chapter of Guilty Gear, a lot of people who do play it will be put off by the sheer complexity of the fighting system and the fact it's one of the most bizarre games out there.
On first look, things do look quite simple with the face buttons assigned to kick, punch, slash and hard slash respectively. The shoulder buttons can be (but don't have to be) used and it's the standard "hold back to block" defence. It is possible on the easiest levels to play it like a standard fighter. The base of the game relies on the half and quarter circles movements of old to pull off its special attacks, there's nothing out of the usual in that respect.
But once you start to learn the game, special techniques play a large part of the fights. Examples include moves that can be cancelled (the act of interrupting a move and turning it into another one) into special moves, and special moves can be "roman cancelled" into other special moves or even super moves. Blocking can be turned into "perfect blocking", taking no damage from a move in exchange for a certain amount from your tension bar.
This tension bar is very important to the game, and is in ways quite similar to the super bars you see in a lot of other fighting games. You gain tension by attacking and moving toward your opponent and this can be spent on super moves along with the techniques I mentioned above. This makes for a very aggressive style of play, and anyone continually on the defensive will be penalised by having their tension bar emptied. Thankfully, it's not possible to keep someone on the defensive, moves can be countered easily and combos can be broken. It helps of course that the game flows with nice smooth animation and spot on controls that always seem to do what you want them to.
Less helpful, however are the one-hit kill moves. Although it can be fun to hit you opponent with one, it's far from easy. Once your tension bar is at a high enough level for it to be safe, you can press all four of the face buttons and your fighter will pose and the tension bar changes. In this mode the bar quickly drains down, and once it reaches the end it will start to drain your heath (which is why this should be used when your tension is high). However with a quick double quarter circle movement followed by heavy slash will unleash a blockable move that will KO your opponent no matter what health they have. The problem being is that once you use the move, hit or miss you lose your tension bar for the round. That means no super moves, no roman cancels and no perfect blocking. It leaves you with a heck of a disadvantage.
All this head-spinning complex action is backed up by the most bizarre collection of characters all presented as if they've just come out of an anime (although there doesn't appear to be a Guilty Gear anime). There are no Ryu or Ken style fighters here. Each have their own quirks and while there are too many characters to go into detail on each I can tell you the highlights include a doctor with a giant scalpel and a paper bag on his head (to hide the fact his head appears to be a glowing void), a man who is possessed by demons and can't remember fighting people (he often faints from shock at the end of the round) and woman with long hair that she can control and attack with. Add to this a fantastic heavy metal soundtrack and you've got one of the most distinctive 2D fighters ever.
But it's this distinctiveness that will put people off. Even those who give it a try may be put off by the strange visuals and the in depth combat. Those who do give it the time necessary with find a hugely enjoyable game backed up with not only your normal arcade modes, but objective based missions (i.e. beating someone using only 5 hit combos) and a mode where you collect objects dropped when you hit your enemies.
It's this depth that appeals to me, I'm writing this review and I'm finding myself having to write and re-write sections as I'm forgetting things about the game that I need to mention. I would love to give this game a nine out of ten, I think it is that good, but still I've got to knock a mark off for being so inaccessible to your average gamer. Still, they can keep to their nice EA games can't they?
8 / 10