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By Kris . August 12, 2013 . 1:00pm
These are my personal opinions of Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN-. For information on the new systems in the game, please refer to our earlier report.
As I was waiting in line to play Guilty Gear Xrd, I could hardly believe that the game was 3D. The game emulates the 2D animation style of the older Guilty Gears, and while that looked a little bit odd in the game’s initial trailer, seeing it polished up and at 60FPS makes it almost indistinguishable from a distance.
The fact that the characters’ animations were basically a perfect match for the older games made even the new character designs seem familiar. Millia is still Millia despite the orange look, May walks like May’s always walked, and even though Potemkin looks like Panzerfaust from Skullgirls, he’s still our beloved Potemkin.
However, after watching a bit more, I started to see reminders that the game was, indeed, 3D. Character intros look fantastic, using a combination of the animation-omitting 2D style and the extra perspective advantages of 3D to do some cool stuff. Sol holds a bullet in his teeth (complete with close-up) before loading it into his sword. Ky walks past the camera before whipping off his cloak and electrifying his sword. They can even do some stuff they couldn’t really do with 2D, like May riding one of her dolphins into the stage from the ocean while her friend cheers her on from her sky pirate ship in one single tracking shot. Given how well they nailed the look of the game from the standard fighting game perspective, it’s nice to see how well they’re working with other angles.
Overdrives (Super moves, basically) have some extra animations and camera angles this time around as well, with the camera often swooping in on the character before they unleash their attack. However, these animations were quite short during the location test and didn’t feel any more invasive than a super flash or watching a landed super play out normally in a Guilty Gear game. (That said, while there weren’t any Instant Kills available at this location test, I can’t wait to see how they look with the new visuals.) The last hit of each round is given some instant replays from different directions or with a swooping camera angle. It’s a bit jarring when characters are clipping through each other, but like Virtua Fighter, when the last hit is dramatic, it’s pretty cool.
When I finally got to sit down with the game, I started to play with Venom. While I by no means consider myself particularly good at Guilty Gear, he’s probably the character I’m most familiar with. I felt right at home. Tossing out pool balls to be knocked at my opponent, rushing forward spinning my pool cue, teleporting upward, and shooting an absurd number of billiard balls down at my opponent from the air all felt right.
The layout is exactly as it’s always been and none of those attacks had their inputs changed. However, Venom lost his attack “Dubious Curve,” which both strikes the opponent and tosses out a billiard ball. I was a little bummed by its absence until I found its heir apparent.
Venom had a new attack. At first I thought it was just a way to toss out billiard balls and do a little bit of damage, like Dubious Curve. However, I held the button a bit longer than I normally would and I started charging the ball into a vortex. While Venom can normally do this with his forward-to-back charge attack, this is the first time to my knowledge that he could just have vortexes floating around in space. Because my opponent was rather timid, I managed to get three vortexes out onscreen before tearing through their health bar by hitting one at them.
Venom has also picked up a new super. For one thing, he had a new super that generated a special ball, which would bounce from wall to wall after I struck it. While this wasn’t too visually spectacular, I could see it being incredibly helpful if I knew how to use it properly. The couple of hits it landed on my opponent did allow me to win the round though.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dusts in Gulty Gear Xrd worked exactly as I remembered, too. I was a bit worried after I saw two unusual Dusts in the debut trailer, but Venom’s animation and the timing for it worked just as it used to. Despite the odd angle, following people up into the air felt just like it did in 2D Guilty Gear.
However, one big omission is the lack of the EX-style “Force Breaks” that could be performed with 25% of a tension gauge and the Dust button. This was a big concern for me when I switched over to Ky. While it was weird not to have any of the force breaks that he had in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core+ R, he had a new trick. His Dust attacks (and the one special he can perform with Dust) now make “Grinders” appear onscreen. While at first I didn’t know what these did, shooting a projectile through them made the projectile into a sword that did a ton of damage.
He still had some of his old tricks, but the Grinders added an interesting new dimension to his gameplay and the aerial version made his (usually somewhat leisurely) projectiles cover the screen much more quickly. I guess giant swords are faster than lightning.
Following Venom and Ky, I finished my time at the location test playing a few rounds with Millia, who, aside from her new outfit, played almost exactly as I remembered. Some of her normals were changed, and she had a new super that made giant blossoms of hair appear behind her as she moved (which was pretty cool, even though I only got to use it against CPU opponents), but she basically played exactly as I would have wanted her to in a followup to the Guilty Gear XX series.
In fact, that was probably my biggest takeaway from the location test. Guilty Gear still feels like Guilty Gear.
The transition to a new engine hasn’t turned Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN- into Blazblue or Persona 4 Arena or any of Arc’s other fighters—it’s a proper Guilty Gear sequel. I can’t wait until the game is finished.
Food for Thought:
1. There was a survey at the end asking about which consoles we’d like to see a home port on. While Arc is considering Xrd for next gen systems, in addition to the expected PS4, Xbox One and Wii U, the options included 360, PS3, 3DS, and Vita.
2. I couldn’t hear the music very well at the venue (they seemed to have it turned down at every cabinet I sat at), but the announcer was very audible. He says “Select Your Battle Warrior” at the character select screen, and “You Rock!” when you win.
3. I had a chance to hear a little bit of the current title screen music (as there’s no attract mode). It wasn’t as metal as one might would be, instead it’s a somewhat bluesy piano-driven track. It might be different by the time the full game is released, but I liked it.
4. Now that I’ve seen it in person, I don’t think Ky’s ponytail is that bad…