Monday, 23 June 2014

Blazblue:Chrono Phantasma

Gamespot Score: n/a

My Score: 8.5

(+) Pros: - Solid fighting mechanics that improves from its previous entries, - MASSIVE amount of content, both offline and online, new and old, - New characters continue to impress by being different and more diverse than the old ones,  - Kick ass new soundtrack, - Re-balancing and reworking of some old characters make them feel fresh and new, - Online feels a lot more improved and user friendly with lobbies, - Lots of ways to improve yourself with a very in depth tutorial and content filled challenge mode.

(-) Cons: - While the story itself is great, the story telling gets old by now, - Some balance issues at launch.

Gameplay time: 100 hours +

"Blazblue" was easily one of the most, if not THE MOST successful 2D fighting game franchise to be released in this current generation. Standing tall to the likes of other 2D fighting game giants like "KOF", "Persona 4 Arena" and "Skull Girls", the "Blazblue" franchise itself never fails to impress its fans and keeps on growing (although for awhile Arc System Works developed a Capcom syndrome and released many versions of "Continuum Shift"). With "Chrono Phantasma", the franchise expands itself even further and reaches many new heights. With a new story, new characters, improved mechanics and tons of content, "Chrono Phantasma" will suck you in...and you will yearn for more. Whether or not you're a veteran of the series, or just another newcomer, "Chrono Phantasma" is an excellent iteration of the "Blazblue" franchise in its latest form, and its hard not to enjoy its flashy 2D antics. 

While "Blazblue"'s story has always been one of its stronger points, story telling was not. Anyways, while the main story itself still follows our hot headed protagonist, Ragna The Bloodedge, the game splits it into 3 segments. "Chrono Phantasma", which follows Ragna as he strives to kill Saya, the Imperator, while running into acquaintances, both new and old. "Sector Seven" follows the likes of Kokonoe and Bullet, one who wishes to lend her aid to an upcoming rebellion, while worrying about the mad beast who just escaped from Sector Seven itself. Bullet on the other hand, seeks Kokonoe, for answers about her past. Lastly we have the "Six Heroes" storyline, which talks about Hakumen, Jubei, and all the other heroes as the game dives into their past, while slowly taking on to the present. Everything adds up well, and its a decent way to bring the player up to speed about what's what.

*Sniff*...The character cast has grown SO MUCH!

The most important thing about a fighting of course the fighting mechanics. "Blazblue" is a 2D fighter, and being the 5th proper entry in the series....most players should already know how the game works. If you don't, its simple, like every other fighting game, you just beat your opponent to death...though "Blazblue" has a lot of unique mechanics that you'll need to properly master if you want to at least be DECENT at the game. Guard crushing, move canceling and the latter aside, let's talk about the new game mechanics. The most game changing one so far that was recently introduced in this game is overdrive, which literally acts as a form of X-Factor from "Marvel Vs Capcom 3", though a lot less broken.

Each character has their own overdrive, which consumes your Break Burst upon activation. The Break Burst function is still there, though it charges up just as your Overdrive does. A+B+C+D when you're getting hit still activates Break Burst, while doing so when you're NOT getting hit activates Overdrive. The timer freezes, and your character becomes more powerful with new bonuses...DEPENDING on the type of character you're using. Bang enters Gale mode while in Overdrive, Ragna steals an obnoxious amount of health, Terumi actually eats your on and so forth. Its a brilliant new mechanic that actually encourages a more offensive style of play, making this the most fast paced game in the franchise so far.

You like to fight? Then fight a lot you shall!

Like in previous iterations, "Chrono Phantasma" has a MASSIVE amount of content, both in the online and offline well both old and new modes. There's A LOT to be done if you want to really dive deep into the game. The story mode is easily 20-30 hours, you can lose yourself in the challenge and training modes to discover new combos for your favorite characters. You've got your standard Arcade and Versus modes. Abyss mode is similar to the one in "Continuum Shift Extend", which pits you in a dungeon esque, survival style string of matches. Here you can earn EXP, points and auras to power up your character in this mode. Score Attack is back for those craving a good challenge, and Unlimited Mars mode is just freaking insane...its Score Attack but with unlimited characters as your opponents. Then as usual, you can go online to fight other players (more on this later), and go the gallery to unlock stuff with points which you earn through playing the game.

Now lets talk about the new characters. There are 7 new characters, bringing the new character amount to 26, which is a pretty sizable amount considering how the series starting with the game having only 13 characters. Of course, true to the "Blazblue" style, the new characters are all incredibly varied, ranging from the bloodthirsty Azrael and his melee based rush down game, or Kokonoe's insane mind games and pressure which she can assert from any point of the screen. And with new characters comes new themes, and while the new themes are pretty freaking badass, the more badass thing is that the entire game's soundtrack has been reworked. As if the game didn't sound awesome enough before, the new themes take a new spin on the old characters and sound completely different!

Terumi is going to kick your face in...time to hit D, Hakumen.

True to every new entry in the "Blazblue" franchise, older characters get balance tweaks here and there. In "Chrono Phantasma", this is more true than it ever was. Almost every character got significantly reworked, be it getting new moves, losing old moves, or just changing how they work. Some characters feel almost completely different (Ragna, Tsubaki, Hazama), while others just feel like they've only received minor changes and can be played the same way (Litchi is still broken, Rachel is STILL just a shadow of her former self in "Calamity Trigger"). This makes either learning some old characters feel new, or if you intend to continue using your old main, it feels refreshing with the new moves they may or may not have.

Online modes also received a makeover. While the ranked modes are more or less the same and you can still climb the ranks like you usually do. Lobbies are a welcome addition, since here you can meet all sorts of players, roam with your own avatar, fight, get owned, learn, so on and so forth. Its a lot easier to just find an opponent you want and go all in. You can see connection status and the such. Also, you can set up to 3 rivals, you can track their stats, then improve yourself accordingly, all to beat that stupid guy that you always wanted to before.

Story mode has a lot going for it.

If you're a beginner who wants to jump into the "Blazblue" universe, don't worry, we've got you covered. "Chrono Phantasma" has a fantastic tutorial mode that teaches you EVERYTHING you need to know about the game. Literally, everything. From break bursts to canceling, you can drill as much as you want about the very fundamentals about "Blazblue", just don't expect an easy time if you're a complete newbie to the franchise (it was originally a hard game to learn to begin with). And then with that, you can go even further about kicking ass with the character you want with the infamous challenge mode.

Challenge mode is a complete list of combos made specifically for a certain character. Move button inputs are displayed on screen, so its always not too much of a hassle for you to press start and go to the command list to search for the move you want, THEN execute it. Here, you can take your time to execute and learn the combos through muscle memory, and if you can't do it, there's always a demonstration on how to use your combos at the right time and at the right place. Its not really a must to learn everything, just get a couple down through hardcore muscle memory and you're good to go, though its not as easy as it sounds...

Challenge mode will really put you to the test.

The game isn't without its flaws of course. As mentioned earlier, while the story is fantastic here (my favorite story out of the 3 main games), the story telling gets really old. Sure it uses a visual novel style way of telling the story, with portraits, voices and text, but I believe the series deserves a lot better. We get cut scenes here and then, but putting a lot more budget into story telling might actually get us a lot more INVESTED into the wonderful lore of the "Blazblue" universe. Balance is another issue, and while this one was SLIGHTLY resolved during the recent May patch, it was horrible when Kokonoe and Hazama were so damn powerful at launch. Online mode was fine until you ran into those was rather painful, really.

Overall "Blazblue:Chrono Phantasma" is probably the best iteration of the franchise so far. While it hasn't evolved in terms of its story telling, almost everything else is perfect here. With a wealth of content, new characters, a lengthy story and much more, you'll be investing a lot of time into this game. Fans will probably love it to hell, and newcomers can find out why so many players love the "Blazblue" franchise. Either way, this is a fantastic follow up to "Continuum Shift", and I can't wait to see more.

Being an Otaku, Kokonoe style!

Happy Gaming!