The original Project X Zone had some glaring flaws. Its story was a hot mess, the combat was relatively shallow, and battle scenarios followed a very specific formula. Now, those may be harsh criticisms, but there are also a lot of things that it did so, so right—and from what I can tell after playing the demo at Bandai Namco’s showcase this year at E3, Project X Zone 2: Brave New World touches on its weakest points, and emphasizes its best.
The E3 scenario drops you right into a fight outside of what seems to be Kogoro’s headquarters In Shibuya. Juri Han (Street Fighter) and V-Dural (Virtua Fighter) appear here, reprising their roles as rival units in Brave New World, while Sigma (Mega Man X) makes his debut. Juri brings a newly animated special attack with her, Kaisen Dankairaku, while Sigma stays true to his Mega Man X4 design by utilizing his scythe and eye lasers.
The greatest highlight, though, was seeing the new pair units in action. The Virtua Fighter cast is mixed up a bit, as Kage-Maru replaces Pai Chan to make a new pair unit with Akira Yuki. In the first Project X Zone, Akira excelled at launching enemies upward. In Brave New World, both of his side combos launch an enemy horizontally, and only his neutral attack seemed to launch them vertically.
On the Tekken side of things, Kazuya Mishima replaces Ling Xiaoyu to make a pair unit with Jin Kazuma. Their neutral move is Leaping Side Kick & Rising Uppercut, their left attack is Spinning Flare Kick & Hell Lancer, and their right combo is Savage Sword & Roundhouse to Triple Kick Spin (what a mouthful!). Their moves launch the opponent horizontally and excel at keeping the enemy at mid-height in combat.
New to the game is Yakuza: Dead Souls pair Majima and Kiryu. Their neutral move is Double Yakuza Kick. Their right attack is Backbreaker & Knife Combo. Their left attack is Anti-Materiel Rifle & Shotgun. These two hit fewer times, but do a lot of damage, and the left attack keeps the enemy floating at mid-height just before the last hit, if you want to use a solo unit to deal cross damage.
And then there’s X and Zero, together from the last game but playable from what seems to be the beginning. Their neutral move is X-Buster and Z-Saber. Their right attack is Triad Thunder and Ryuenjin, which can be followed up by their left attack, which is Frost Tower & Hadangeki. Their neutral move keeps launches an enemy horizontally, but their directional attacks send enemies straight into the air. Bandai Namco nods heavily toward Mega Man X3 here, as the pair unit gets a remixed version of the game’s introductory stage as one of their themes.
At the end of every fight scene in the demo, I was awarded with a “Charge Bonus.” Though I couldn’t discern what exactly it did, it seemed to power up one, two, or even three of a pair unit’s attacks the next time they fought in battle. In addition, to the bottom right of the XP gauge on the battle screen, there is a turn counter, so players can see how many moves they can execute before moving on.
The battle system has been sped up, even if it’s only in a small way. In the original Project X Zone, if the player K.O.’s an enemy, they’ll be stuck in the combo until they touch the ground. Now, when lethal damage is dealt to an enemy, they will simply disappear in a puff of smoke soon afterward. This helps move battles along a bit faster. In addition, clearing the scenario yielded no second wave of enemies – so perhaps they made it so each chapter is one sweet fight, and not wave after wave of enemies.
Stay tuned for a full interview with Project X Zone 2 producer Kensuke Tsukanaka.