I know I often complain about how fighting games aren’t terribly accessible to outsiders; people who genuinely want to play a fighting game for fun are often left in the dust due to an overwhelmingly barricaded community of gamers, intense difficulty that never seems to make learning the basics of a game worth it, and games get constantly re-released with tweaks and added features, meaning it’s tricky to know where to start.
Guilty Gear is a series guilty (pun fully intended) of all of these, but it usually gets a pass simply for being twisted, unique and totally awesome.
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, besides having one of the longest titles in video game history, is a re-release of a PS2 game, which was a localization of a Japanese arcade game.
The Guilty Gear franchise is known for featuring drawn sprites as characters and backgrounds, and this is no exception. The characters are probably some of the most unique in the entire fighting genre. Where else can you see a character select screen populated with the likes of a doctor gone mad wielding a giant scalpel and a bag on his head? Or an adorable looking girl fighting with a yo-yo and a robotic teddy bear, who doesn’t happen to be a girl? Or a witch of sorts that flies into battle with a guitar and rips off her jacket as a part of her victory pose? It’s quite the cast, that’s for certain. If nothing else, the game gets massive points for originality.
Inside the game you’ll find many of the standard modes you’d find in just about any fighting game. Your quick battle modes, survival modes, story modes, arcade ladder modes and VS. modes are all here. What makes this re-release of GGXXACP unique is the jump into the HD universe, and the added inclusion of online play. While the HD leaves something to be desired due to the game not running in actual widescreen as seen in the screenshots here, it’s nice to see the insane particle effects and special moves be just that much sharper.
Online play is obviously a big deal to fighting fanatics, and the system here runs fairly smoothly. I didn’t encounter any major problems during a few matches online, except for the occasional instance when it was difficult to find a match.
A word of warning, however. Going online with this game should only be left to those that are professionally trained or have a deathwish. Here’s why.
As I’ve mentioned, Guilty Gear has gotten somewhat of a cult following over the years, and there’s a very large community within the much larger fighting game community that have spent years of their lives perfecting how to play the game. Whereas it shouldn’t come to any surprise that an online fighting game community have the ability to wreck less-skilled players with great ease, Guilty Gear players have the ability to downright embarrass players that aren’t fully in-tune with the game’s mechanics. Playing against these people are perhaps the best way to actually improve at the game, since playing against an AI and playing against a human will never be the same kind of experience, just be sure you can handle the game itself first.
I say this because even the single player modes for the game are quite difficult, and have a learning curve steeper than perhaps any other fighting game I’ve ever played. It’s not uncommon for someone new to the game to turn the difficulty all the way down to “beginner” and still have problems, even if that player can hold their own relatively well in other modern fighting games.
The game is worth trying to figure out the mechanics, however, because the effects and special moves are pure eye-candy for the players involved. Imagine the satisfaction obtained from playing through a perfect match by just obliterating your enemies in a flash of flames and lights. It’s an immensely satisfying feeling if you can manage the patience to get to that level.
But even if you can’t manage to get a hang of the game itself, you’ll likely find much to like with the sensory details of the game. The combination of the expertly designed characters and levels mixed with the driving heavy metal soundtrack make a great combination. As a renowned metalhead myself, I can admit with pride that each soundtrack to the Guilty Gear games always manage to make their way into my collection. There have been a few times where I didn’t care I was getting my ass handed to me online simply because the music was really, really awesome.
My usual warnings of newcomers being interested in fighting games remain here, however Guilty Gear is a bit different. I make that warning somewhat louder with this game simply because it’s a bit more difficult than others, but I don’t think it should hinder anyone from playing, because learning how to last longer than a few seconds is ultimately more rewarding than most other games that I give the same warning to. You might have trouble finding value here if you have only a passing interest in fighting games in general, and want to experience all the genre has to offer. But for established fans of the franchise who are looking to open their opponent possibilities with the inclusion of online play, I’d say you’ve probably made your decision already, but I’ll confirm your suspicions and say GGXXACP should make its way to your hard drive somehow.
This review is based on a PS3 copy of the game provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.