Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Guilty Gear Xrd: Revalator

Gamespot Score: n/a

My Score: 8.5

(+) Pros: - Excellent visuals that are both extremely flashy and beautiful to look at, - Diverse cast of characters, - Core fighting mechanics are fun and pack a ton of depth, but remains beginner-friendly with its godlike tutorial, - Amazing soundtrack from my man Daisuke Ishiwatari, - Great set of online features, - Tons of unlockables that encourage more play time, - Story mode is a blast to look at.

(-) Cons: - Story mode has no need for you to play at all, - Single player is slightly lacking to other Arc System Works games.

Gameplay time: About 3-4 hours for Story Mode, Infinite for everything else

Here we are with the game that I consider to be the 2nd best looking fighting game in the market at the moment (only behind Tekken 7, which looks absolutely godlike). Sure, it might be debated as not many people favor the heavy anime styled visuals that is present in "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator", but nonetheless, it still looks absolutely amazing for what it is, that man you cannot disagree. I've never really had the chance to jump on the "Xrd" train during its first installment as I hadn't got myself a PS4 at the time, and I was probably hooked onto some other games to bother too much about it. So when "Revelator" came out in 2016, I had to give it a go, there's no way I was going to skip this one out. Needless to say, as someone who's loved Arc System's fighters since "Blazblue: Calamity Trigger" (and a little bit of Guilty Gear XX back on the PS2 era), "Xrd Revelator" was an absolute blast to play. Being very similar to its older games, it feels very familiar to fans of the franchise, and even someone like me who had always been more of a "Blazblue" guy...I found the game extremely easy to jump into. If we're looking at the most visually appealing fighting game in the market right now, I'd say "Xrd Revelator" takes the cake.

As I would expect from Arc System Works, they bothered to include an actual story mode into "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator", just like in their "Blazblue" games. Since I never had the opportunity to play "Xrd", it helped a lot that "Revelator" included a "previously on..." prologue episode before the story even begun to fill me in on the events of the previous game. Because of that, I never really missed much, and was able to get into the story rather quickly. It takes place after Elphelt was captured by Ariels, the mother of the Valentines that disguised herself as the supreme will that was even of a higher position than Ky Kiske, the king of his country. She apparently wants to fuse Elphelt with Justice to creature an omnipotent gear that could end the world. Of course, Sol is not going to take that lying down, so he collaborates with Ky Kiske and many others in order to try to find Elphelt and bring her back.

Now THIS is what I'm talking about!

Right off the bat I'm going to get the obvious out of the way, "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator" looks absolutely amazing. I know I know, I pretty much gloated that off at the very beginning, but I have to stress on that fact. It uses 3D  models that mimic those of the old school hand drawn sprites of older games, and it looks great. Characters are incredibly expressive, both in and out of battle, the animation style allows for some very vibrant character expressions on the models. It really looks like a well done CG anime during many sequences. During game play, character attacks look visually impressive, and visual impact when hitting an opponent feels extremely satisfying with giant orange flicks that flash on screen. Stage backgrounds look good too, though they don't do much to interact with the game itself.

With "Xrd: Revelator", the game has a decently healthy selection of 23 characters, 2 of which are DLC characters, which means its a 21 character in the base game itself. That itself is not too amazing, but considering its Arc System works, they do their magic on their character designs. If you've already known GG for awhile, then you should know, the cast is extremely diverse, in both their character designs and styles of game play. Almost everyone feels different from one another, with completely different move sets and fighting styles, ranging from the simplistic close quarters combat of Sol or Ky, to the extremely complex, micro managing combat style of Zato...or even a fighting style centered around kiting enemies from afar with Axl Low. The game has a ton of choices, and while some characters are most definitely a lot harder to use than others, there's always someone that's perfect for any player.

The dynamic camera that zooms in on you when you
launch your enemies into the sky for an air combo is great.

The core mechanics of the game itself are fairly diverse, as expected of a game from Arc System works. If you've played and are mostly familiar with the GG games of old, you should be fine, otherwise, its a game that's fairly similar to "Blazblue", though here, its slightly more complex. You've got your advance guards, your counter breaks and your rapid cancels, but unlike "Blazblue" where you have a button dedicated to a specific character trait, in GG, its all simply just another attack button, so there's certainly going to be a little bit more complicated when it comes to chaining combos and attacks. Still, GG focuses a lot more on using the tension meter on canceling than using special attacks, much more so than BB. Even if you know next to nothing about the game, the tutorial mode is fantastic and should quickly get you up to speed with its various training methods.

Even IF you're already somewhat decent at the game, the game further tries to educate you by providing match-up tips against other characters with the character you are playing as! This is rarely seen in other fighting games, and I'm glad to see Arc System works apply this to "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator"...though this is strangely missing in "Blazblue". Even after ALL that and you STILL want to take it easy, the game has a "Stylish" command input, which pretty much turns the game into "Persona 4:Arena" and lets you blindly mash buttons for standard bread and butter combos. I highly do NOT recommend you to play the game this way though. There are plenty of ways to practise, ranging from the standard Arcade Mode with character intros and outros to training missions in the dojo, which teach you combos for certain characters. All this, combined with an excellent rock-based soundtrack, makes for some damned, good fun.

Ride the f**king fire, Ky.

Alright, now let's get on to the main meat of what GG does really well, its online features. Going online to kick some ass in "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator" is relatively simple because of its online infrastructure. Now, the netcode is decent, but what's really good here is the feature list. They've made a very charming lobby where you get to move a relatively cute avatar around to challenge others. The standard list of to-dos here in a fighting game online lobby are here, you can challenge others one on one, you can go into ranked queues for increasing your rank, you can queue up in individual private lobbies to fight against others as you spectate...the list goes on. The game spots a nice replay theater for you to view past games against players you went up against, and you can keep track of your stats.

Playing the game earns you world dollars, which you can use to purchase many other things in the game store. These include custom themes, character system voices, character color pallete swaps, character icons to use to edit your online profile, items to dress up your online avatar in....and many, many more. There are a metric f**k ton of things you can buy, and you'll accumulate the money quite quickly anyway. Most important is the fact that one of the DLC characters Raven, can be purchased in game with in-game currency (sadly, Kum and Dizzy are still paid DLC if you didn't manage to get them for free during their release windows). Of course, you could technically fish for those...but fishing is incredibly RNG heavy and you usually get useless stuff from it anyway.

Dizzy is bae.

Finally, let's talk about the game's story mode. Its really quite refreshing to see Arc put so much effort into the story. Unlike "Blazblue"'s visual novel styled story telling which is starting to look a little bit aged and old now, "Guilty Gear" uses full blown cut scenes with their characters moving around and talking to each other. In a way, its almost like a full length 3D CG anime film, complete with fully voiced dialogue and its individual arcs within the story that the game splits itself into. I'll be honest, the story is pretty straightforward, but at least its a blast to look at and quite fun to watch from start to finish. Honestly though, after you're done with it, there's no real merit to revisiting it, but at least it was fun while it lasted.

Yeah, these story segments are really great to look at.

Now let's talk about what the game could have done better. For one, the story mode, while fun, is very much just you watching how it plays out. At least in "Blazblue", you could make choices for a more branched out story, and you had to play the fights out yourself. Here in "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator", the story is STRICTLY a movie ONLY. There's no fights that you have to play out, no QTEs like in "Mortal Kombat", nothing. They really could have done something more interactive so that we could feel like we were a part of this story that was being told. Secondly, which is the more important point that I have to get to, is that the game feels a bit light on content compared to other Arc System Works games. Considering this is "GUILTY GEAR", their first and possibly most well known franchise, they could have put more stuff into it, like its own Score Attack mode with insane AI settings or something like that...

Anyway, that's "Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator" for you. It's a damned good fighting game that looks freaking amazing, its a game that well deserves its asking price. Now that GG has come to steam, hopefully it gets an even bigger community so that we get more games. With that in mind, "GG Xrd: Rev 2" is coming soon, with Answer and Baiken (f**king finally) on the way. Since we DON'T have to pick up a brand new retail game for the update (thank god), I'll probably be getting that one too...and I can't wait to play as Baiken, who looks incredibly sexy in her new look.

Happy gaming!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Almost Too Heavy (Heavy Object review)

Opening Songs
OP 1 - One More Chance (ALL OFF)
OP 2 - Never Gave Up (ALL OFF)

Ending Songs

ED 1 - Dear Brave (Kano)
ED 2 - Unchanging Strength (Yuka Iguchi)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction

Episodes: 24

I'll be straight up honest with you guys, I only watched this one because its story was written by the great Kazuma Kamachi, the author behind the "To Aru Majutsu No Index" franchise. I was quite hyped to learn that another one of his many works got an anime adaptation, and soon grew quite eager for "Heavy Object" to end so that I could watch it. Sadly for me, while "Heavy Object" is a rather unique concept to say the least, I found it extremely hard to grow on the series as a whole. I'm not too huge of a sci-fi guy, so "Heavy Object" didn't exactly sell me on the premise alone, even after finishing the entire 24 episode offering, I was feeling rather iffy and confused as to what to think of the series. The series has its strong points, but I feel that it has far too many issues that stop it from achieving greatness. I mean, if you're into giant mechs and destroying them, this one might be for you, otherwise, I feel that "Heavy Object" only appeals to a certain niche audience.

Well, at least it shares ONE similarity to Index: It has
some great ladies in it.

For one, the series does have some solid theme songs, I'll give it that. Both opening songs are performed by ALL OFF, the first opening theme is "One More Chance", and the second one is "Never Gave Up". Both songs are fast, furious and get you freaking pumped with its high strung vocals and powerful instrumental flurry. "Never Gave Up" does feel a little bit uplifting, which is slightly questionable, but its still a powerful song nonetheless. The ending themes are your typical slow affair, with the first theme being "Dear Brave" by Kano, and the second theme being "Unchanging Strength" by Yuka Iguchi.

Rating: 7.0/10

While I personally don't enjoy it AS much, I'd say that the show does have some undeniable charm. "Heavy Object" is a sci-fi anime that takes place in the future, and it does have a rather ridiculous setting. Right off the bat, things will seem infuriatingly confusing and completely nonsensical, that much is similar to the "Index" franchise, that much I can say for sure. If you don't pay attention to even the slightest bit of detail, you'll have question marks flying out of your heads. The story itself is mostly your typical political struggle between countries and factions, nothing TOO complicated or mind blowing here. The characters are a rather strong point, since most of the screen time is focused on our main central 4 characters, which do turn out to be somewhat likable down the road (plus, Capistrano is a freaking goddess). While there are plenty of other side characters thrown in from time to time, the show's focus never breaks away from our central cast, which gives them some good character development. The show's main focus however, is the action, and while most of the mech battles are done in CG, the main meat of the show with regular foot soldiers taking down mechs can range from good....to "meh". Some of the battle arcs are nice, while others aren't that great, which is probably why I feel like this show doesn't appeal to me that much, since the later strategies to take down future mechs don't feel that mind blowing anymore.

Too bad it doesn't work like that.

Quenser is a regular young man sent out to the army to investigate and learn about Objects, mysterious mechs that surfaced in the world and took it by storm. An Object is a massive mech that is powerful enough to completely obliterate armies, tanks and any sort of planes that even dare to mobilize against it: simply put, it is the most powerful thing in the world. Since the introduction of Objects, wars have been completely skewed and even removed at times, with most conflicts between factions being settled between 2 Objects duking it out with one another. Whichever Object wins will have its supporting factory win the war, so to say. Quenser is a mechanic studying the Objects up close, as such, he is treated a foot soldier. There, he meets someone who'll become his best buddy in the battlefield, Havia, a prince from a faraway land sent to fight for his family's honor. Together they work under the voluptuous Major Capistrano and her Object pilot Milinda. They go on various adventures, fighting against armed soldiers and objects alike, except on most situations, Quenser and Havia have to deal with Objects by themselves...as mere foot soldiers.

"Heavy Objects" threads on a very niche line in my opinion. Surely it has its nice bursts of charm, but I feel like the show gets repetitive and bland after awhile, especially if you're not huge into mechs. As one of Kazuma's works, I feel like it's going to have a nice following, but for myself...well, we're just going to have to see how the future for this franchise turns out.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Secret Arms (Ray)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Gardens (Mami Kawada)

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Episodes: 14

It never ends, doesn't it? At this point I'm not even surprised anymore: "To Love Ru" is simply one of those shows that will never go away as long as the fan base remains intact. If there's demand for it, there'll definitely be another season. I won't lie, more "To Love Ru" will make me a happy man, that's for sure. With the second season of "Darkness", it brings us even closer to the eventual reveal of Lala's mother (please make it happen in full anime glory)! With more new characters, more ecchi filled scenarios and more screen time with our favorite girls of this harem with a long anime heritage, "To Love Ru Darkness S2" pulls out all the big guns, bringing the ecchi levels to new heights. Those looking for fan service will be more than happy to know that this show somehow manages to be even MORE pervertic than the last season, which is downright insanity. Without further ado, Rito has more boobs to fondle, asses to grab, and panties to dive his face into. All hail the harem lord and king of pervertic accidents!

More Yami and Mea...I can't exactly say no to that, can I?

"To Love Ru" opening theme songs have been somewhat improving in my opinion, especially with "Secret Arms" by Ray here. It'll never have an opening song that's fast or rock heavy due to the nature of the show, "Secret Arms" is as good as it gets with its smooth tempo and good vocals. The ending theme is "Gardens" by Mami Kawada, who is sadly retired at the time of this post. I've always been a fan of her faster paced songs in "Shakugan No Shana" and "Index", which "Gardens" sadly is not. Still, its a slower paced song that's better suited for an ending theme.

Rating: 8.0/10

I won't be ashamed to say it: I very much enjoyed myself with "To Love Ru Darkness S2". Considering the scale of things here, it's extremely hard not to, as a show that delves on having its fan service to be one of its biggest selling points, it does a great job. Hell I still do believe that when it comes to these fan service shows, "To Love Ru" is still THE best franchise to do it, outside of maybe "High School DxD". How Rito spends time with the girls and how his everyday life simply continues to unfold really doesn't get old, despite this being the 4th entry in the franchise. With even some much needed screen time on other girls that usually don't show up (Kujou Rin) and the new character, Nemesis, there's really nothing that's being left out here. "To Love Ru" has always been awfully quirky with its romcom comedic moments, like how Rito frequently causes upskirts, or how he nosedives face first into some random girl's panties...its all here and it skyrockets to insane proportions. The ending arc is even surprisingly well done, with a nice amount of detail, character progression and background story on one of the franchise's most popular but under-developed characters, Yami.

Well, we all know this shit is going to happen eventually.

Taking place directly after the events of the first season of "Darkness", Momo still grows increasingly insistent of making her bat shit insane harem plan come into fruition. Trying to force her ideals onto Rito to become the king of Deviluke and have multiple wives...of course, for that to happen he has to marry Lala first. With Mea now finally being more on the "good" side, there are fewer things interrupting Momo's plans now...until a new sinister presence shows up. Meet master Nemesis, the mysterious voice that has been keeping contact with Mea up till now. Out of nowhere, she suddenly decides to appear in her physical form. She sends Mea on another mission to screw around, and now, Rito suddenly has to worry about the darkness project that happens to be the background story of Yami...

With even the release of an OVA episode that's incredibly high in terms of fan service volume, it's almost confirmed that we haven't seen the end of "To Love Ru".The manga is STILL growing strong, and artist Yabuki Kentarou shows almost no signs of slowing down. Well then, here's to "Darkness" season 3, my fellow weebs!