PS3 Review – Blazblue: Calamity Trigger
Figthing games are back in force this year. Last yearâ€™s Soul Calibur IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix have set the path for this yearâ€™s Street Fighter IV, Tekken VI, Soul Calibur PSP, Fate/Unlimited Code, Kings of Fighter XII and Iâ€™m surely forgetting some. In this wave of franchises whoring, comes Blazblue: Calamity Trigger.
Developed by Arc System Works, the guys behind the original Guilty Gears game, and published somewhat miserably some will say by Aksys Games, Blazblue features a whole bunch of content on its disc.
I managed to snatch a copy of the Limited Edition back in Late June/Early July when it was first released, a feat that not many Canadians had the chance to do, since the very limited number of copies distributed by Aksys in Canada, and even in the USA.
Read on to find out if the extra wait most of the people interested in the game had to suffer through because of the low distribution was worth it.
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Aksys Games
Date of Release: June 30, 2009 for the Very Limited Edition / Late July, 2009 for the Standard Edition
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Arcade
Looks and Sounds
The game features 12 anime style characters drawn and animated for a 720p resolution. Â As far as details goes for 2D sprites, I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a console game anything better, upscaled on a 1080p 52” TV, the characters were still pretty sharp and didn’t look pixelated from where we were sitting when we tested it on that TV. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but you can’t argue about how much this game looks beautiful. Â The 3D-rendered backdrops in the multiple arenas with crazy details are just stunningly refreshing the first few times you see them. Â When a match begins, the camera usually starts off somewhere inside the background, zooming out to the layer where you’ll be fighting, but you’ll be surprised how much details were put in such small areas of the background, just so that the level’s intro looks really cool.
Arc System has put a lot of time on polishing the game, and it shows, not only on the character and level designs, but also on the music side. The heavy toned soundtrack of the game, which also came with the Limited Edition has a 2 discs set, puts up the right mood for brawling with your friends, offline or online. Â While the music hasn’t engraved my memory yet as much as Guilty Gear’s did, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Â Nonetheless, the music as always been something important in fighting games, at least for me, and no one beats Arc System at this. Â I mean, is it just me, or music really makes you better at a fighting game if you can get into its beats. Â I just flow through a fight much better when I’m caught in a musical rhythm.
As for the characters’ designs themselves. Â Well it’s obviously more aimed at the anime fans than anyone else, as they really fits archtypes characters too well, but they still hold, most of them a little bit of originality, in personality and design. Â My favorite character on the design side, is definetely Taokaka. Â She’s a goofy more or less cat-girl with hilarious lines, match intros, win poses, moves and especially one special move, called “I’mma beat the crap outta you!”… In terms of who I play though, she falls on my third choice, but I haven’t really got any good with her.
I’ll just quote Wikipedia’s plot description here.
Prior to the events of BlazBlue, humanity was on the verge of extinction from the “Black Beast”, a creature of Darkness. The world was saved by six heroes who wielded magic. They helped humanity create “Armagus”, a fusion of magic and technology, to defeat the Beast.
After the war, the Novus Orbis Librarium Armagus (the Library or NOL for short) was created to govern the world with the use of Armagus. A great deal of dissent was caused by the Library, partly due to Armagus’ use in nearly every facet of society, and the widening socioeconomic gap between those who could and couldn’t use Armagus. This dissent would eventually form years later into The Ikaruga Civil War, when the Ikaruga Union openly rebelled against the Library. After the war, the Library imposed a harsher rule on the world, punishing any rebellion against the Library with the death penalty.
In December A.D. 2199, several years after the Ikaruga Civil War, a branch of the Library was utterly destroyed by an SS-class traitor named “Ragna the Bloodedge” also known as the “Grim Reaper”, in an attempt to destroy the entire Library. The Novus Orbis Librarium Armagus, hoping to stop him, immediately put the largest bounty ever for anyone who could capture him. Interestingly, Ragna possessed a powerful form of Armagus known as the “Azure Grimoire” (Grimoire of the Blue in Japan), also known as the BlazBlue. This led the Librarium, as well as the Ikaruga Union and other fighters, to hunt Ragna not just for his bounty, but also his grimoire.
So there you have it. It’s pretty much standard fare for Fighting games. Â Background story there pretty much to have your characters fight each other. Â Of course each of them have their own set of storyline that you can discover by playing the story mode. Â Speaking of which, there’s tons of content to go through in Story mode. Â Each characters basically has his multi-path story with fully-voiced text dialog, pretty similar to your usual visual novels, to those that don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s pretty much like those dating sims games, without the sex scenes, but with fighting when conflicts arise. Â The mode is pretty distracting and interesting, but I have yet to do most of the characters. Â To note here, is that you can make wrong choices and get a bad end, if you can call it so. Â I thought that was a really great feature to add to the game’s longetivity.Â There’s also a bit of story bits in the Arcade mode.
Going through the story and seeing everything about it requires multiple play-throughs with each character, as you can get different endings and events after battles depending on if you win, win with a Distortion Finish, or lose the battle. So there can be a lot of gameplay done in this one mode, as there is a lot of content in each story.
Again in the story mode, there’s this bonus feature called “Oshiete Litchi-sensei!” or “Please Teach me Teacher Litchi” that you unlock as you play the story mode, it’s like a mini-theater where Taokaka and Litchi where you learn more about the game’s universe and gameplay. Â I haven’t watched much of it yet, but I really liked the part I saw. Â But it’s aimed at people that are into this kinds of things I guess.
Now on to the meat of the game, how does it do next to the other big 2D figthers?
Well, first things first: the Guilty Gear comparison. The game’s basics are very similar to those of Guilty Gear. But now you get to use 12 brand new and incredibly original characters. Some might have similarities to characters from other games, but overall they’re all really unique.
So, the gameplay. The battles play out in usual 2D-fighter fashion. Each character attack each other with combos until one of the 2 dies, and the one to win more rounds wins. You have 4 attack buttons: A, B, C and Drive. A is light attacks, B is medium and C is heavy attacks. You can get a variety of different attacks with those 3 buttons if you do quarter/half/full cicles or different directions. Basic fighting game stuff. You can also guard, and pressin certain buttons while blocking puts up a barrier in front of you, which reduces chip damage and pushes you back to open up combos. And pressing a bunch of buttons will do a “burst” thing like in guilty gear. But this is a once-per-round thing, and using it reduces your defense for the rest of the round.
The parts that are different from other games are the Drive attacks. Each character has it’s own variety of Drive attacks, and those attacks are completely unique for each.
Noel can initiate various multi-hit combos with her drive, Jin can freeze people, Ragna has life-sucking attacks (to compensate for his low defense), Taokaka has a dash attack that can be used to close distance, Litchi can place or recall her pole as well as use it to initiate attacks and trap enemies, Bang uses a special attack that combines both a guard for the first few frames and an attack afterwards which boosts a special meter of his (which is used for his BGM-changing buff special), Carl can control his puppet with his drive (which is really hard but quite rewarding if you can actually do it right), Arakune curses your opponent (enabling you to shoot annoying bug projectiles for a limited time, or until you get hit), Tager’s drive magnetises your opponent (making them get close to you during certain attacks, and enabling for massive combos and MAJOR SOVIET DAMAGE), Rachel can control wind to control certain of her special attacks and affect your movements and your opponent’s as well, V-13 (Nu) can summon a variety of swords and stuff to hit your opponent and Hakumen has a counter attack. The drves definitely make every character unique, though their normal attacks and specials make them different from other characters in other games.Â Added to that are Distortion Drives (which are basically supers) and Astral Heats (similar to the 1-hit kill “Destroyed” attacks in guilty gear, with tons of conditions to do them), which are unique for every character. Other than a few exceptions, the basic gameplay for each character revolves around using their drives, which makes them all unique.
The gameplay is fast and furious, just as I liked from Guilty Gear. Comboing works great, especially if you know what you’re doing. Combos are quick and impressive, and very fun to watch and perform. Most attacks can be done after most other attacks, and you can free-style your way through, though some attacks link better to others, so learning the ins and outs of each character is a must if you plan on getting good with any of them, and implementing their drives is a must. A Rachel player not using wind will get destroyed by anyone.Â I put time in learning how to play as Tager, for example, so I perform a lot better with him than any other character. I learned how to implement his drive in combos and how to use the magnetism effect his drive gives to get more out of his normal attacks. Lrarning each character is a game in and of itself.
Overall the gameplay is fast and fun, and each character is unique(how many times did I say this). The roster might be a bit on the small side, but the characters are so well done that it’s forgivable, and its a new game in a new series, so only 12 characters is frankly not too bad(i mean, Street Fighter 2 only had 8 playable characters at first and only got more when later revisions came out).
With 12 very well done characters, awesome gameplay, a deep story mode and great online (which should be mostly lagless), BlazBlue is great for any fighting game fan.
Add in the awesome soundtrack and incredible graphics and you have a winner that stands very well with the rest of Â the newer 2D figthers, if not above them.
One problem with the game: We know it’s gonna end up being a game with tons of revisions, just like Guilty Gear. I’m hoping revisions will include new characters, though we already know some new characters are on the way (for the Europe release at least). Can’t wait to play Super BlazBlue XX Slash #Reload Accent Core HD Remix Plus Turbo 2.
- Great characters
- Fast and fun gameplay
- Great graphics
- Great soundtrack
- Fun story mode
- Great online system with rarely any lag
- Relatively well-balanced cast
- I guess I’ll say that the low number of characters is a con… even if it isn’t that bad
- Limited edition might have been a bit too limited
- A few balancing issues(a good Nu will easily destroy a great Tager, for example)
The Save Factor
With a starting price of 60$, the Save Factor for BlazBlue is:
70$ (if features a great 2-disc soundtrack, and a very good tutorial DVD/Blu-Ray(while it could be a bit more advanced, it does show everything you need to know to start mastering every character))
50$ (fun and deep, any fighting game fan should try this out)
Unlimited games for one low price.
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