Lately the fighting game genre has had new vitality breathed into it, with the latest entries in many series gaining a lot of attention (Street Fighter V even made it onto ESPN). Fighting games are growing, both at a casual level and a professional one, and both of these groups should be very excited for the release of the next entry into the Guilty Gear series, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2.
The most beautiful fighting game out there, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 sports an anime-like art style that expertly skates the line between 2D and 3D – all of the models and environment are 3D, but during the fight they appear 2D. Every time there’s a KO, the camera moves around the characters and shows the third dimension, a flourish that’s utterly breathtaking each time. The visuals are an incredibly strong point, with fluid animation and great designs.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 is a five-button fighter, using punch, kick, slash, hard slash, and dust to define their attack buttons. Whilst it’s a different layout to most other fighters, the game is very easy to transition to, and the tutorials, challenges, and teaching methods the game uses can ease a player of any skill into the mechanics of the game. Whilst the skill ceiling is incredibly high, the basics of the game are easy to grasp, especially with the missions and combo challenges; even a player with little-to-no fighting game experience can quickly start to feel like they’re actually doing something. The game’s mechanics lend themselves to this simple learning style, but also don’t take anything away from the more in-depth play those accustomed to fighting games or Guilty Gear in particular crave.
REV 2 keeps an intense pace during fights, with multiple forms of movement and options in any situation. Besides the obvious art style, one element that separates this “anime fighter” from more traditional ones (e.g., Street Fighter V) is the movement and speed. On top of that, the technical aspects of the game run incredibly deep. From Roman Cancels to Jump Cancels, dust combos to managing Sin’s Meat Meter, or charging Jam’s Asanagi no Kokyuu after a knockdown to confirming into a juggle from a counter-hit air Bridal Express as Elphelt, there’s seemingly a bottomless pool of tech to dive into.
One of the biggest draws of a fighting game, outside of tight mechanics that allow for flowing gameplay, is the character diversity and interaction. Characters are just as important to a fighting game as the system itself, and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 has shaped a roster of incredibly interesting and varied characters. With just a cursory look through the cast of 25 fighters, most people should be able to find designs that speak to them, whether that be the semi-terrifying zany Doctor Faust, or the sultry rocker I-No.
Every character has unique conversations with every other character in instant-kills and the post-game win quote. These might seem like small touches at first, but they’re a great source of comedy and plot all in one. Elphelt’s win quotes are a particular point of hilarity, with several paragraphs rushed out in an adorably over-excited way.
The soundtrack to this game brings life to every match and sets the mood throughout the story mode, with every character having their own song, as well as countless others playing for stages. There’s even unique tracks for specific battles, such as during a Sol versus Ky bout. You can even unlock more tracks through both purchasing them with World Money (the in-game currency) or fishing, which is effectively a cheap but completely random way to unlock things. Not only music, but also artwork, colors, avatar visuals, exclusive voice clips and announcer voices can be unlocked through these ways; there’s a plethora of content to discover, and it feels rewarding to do so. There’s no gross farming for in-game currency like in Street Fighter V, where the amount you gain versus the amount you need is disheartening to say the least. Here you gain a decent chunk of money for pretty much anything you do.
Translation is often an active issue with games with strong personalities from Japan, where characters don’t quite come across as they should, or the translation feels too literal, but those issues are completely absent here. There are a few stray spelling errors (outside of Jam’s intentionally broken language) that, whilst noticeable, aren’t particularly egregious. Overall it is very well done, with character dialogue not feeling awkward and (again, with the exception of Jam, for which it is intentional) always making sense. Characters have their personalities reflected in how they speak in the written translation, and the voice acting is top notch (Japanese voices are the only ones available).
So what’s new in this version compared to Revelator, which was released last year? There are two additional characters, Baiken and Answer, with Answer being brand new to the series. REV 2 also has new balance changes, which may seem mostly relevant to the tournament scene, but several characters also have brand new moves and new combos to explore as well. There’s additional content for the single player side of things, with Episode (the equivalent of Arcade Mode) story scenes for Jam Kuradoberi, Kum Haehyun, Raven and Dizzy, and a brand new After Story set after the main story mode.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 feels fantastic from the start, and just keeps growing from there. Charm oozes from everything, and the diverse nature of the characters and the depth of the system mean there’s always more to explore, more to experiment with, and more things to do. For anyone trying to decide on a fighting game to get, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 should be right in the center of their radar. Even outside of online play the game has a compelling story and a lot of modes to play.