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Guilty Gear X2
Review By: Josh Fishburn
 
Developer:  Arc System Works
Publisher:  Sammy
# Of Players:  12
Genre:  Fighting
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  7-3-03

Another 2-d fighting game?  Seriously folks, do we really need another one of these.  Even talking about how clichéd Capcom and SNK’s fighters have become is becoming cliché in itself.  Luckily, Guilty Gear X2 sidesteps cliché-dom and strikes out on its own with unflinchingly bold characters, frenetic gameplay, gorgeous graphics and deliciously corny rock music.  Whether this series will leave a Street Fighter – like legacy is yet to be seen, but seeing a game put together with this much care has made a believer out of me.

Having not played Guilty Gear X (but read press snippets) my expectations for X2 were non-existent except for anticipating a beautiful game.  That said, X2 exceeded my expectations in almost every other area as well.  Arc System Works has included a lovely variety of modes to keep you playing for months.  In addition to the standard arcade and versus modes, we are graced with M.O.M., Survival, Mission, Story, and Training modes.  M.O.M. (Medal of Millionaires) is a treasure hunt of sorts, allowing you to choose a fighter to face an endless barrage of enemies.  Based on your fighting skill you earn medals and eventually healing items.  Survival mode is similar, with a level system based on your fighting ability.  These two modes are about survival and continue as long as you do.  GGX2 really brandishes its sword with the hearty mission mode.  50 formidable (read milking-a-duck hard) challenges await you here.  The missions range from battling an enemy while poisoned to facing a foe with iron constitution regaining health all the while.  The story mode is a great break from the insane missions; you get to learn a little bit of weirdness about each character and how they fit into the whole outlandish GG universe.  Along with all of the great gameplay connected to these modes, the extrinsic rewards provide that extra kick of motivation.  You can win extra characters, slick anime artwork, movies and music.  The training mode is adequate, but is missing any sort of tutorial that a complicated game like this would benefit greatly from.  On the plus side, you can “record” a set of moves to play back against yourself so you can get practice with the large order tactics.

Guilty Gear X2 surprises with its subtle charms.  At first glance, I was wowed by its beauty, but unimpressed by its gameplay.  On the surface it seems like you can just mash on buttons and pull out some quarter circle moves to bury your opponent.  This may be true with a small fraction of the battles, but once you hit the mission mode you better be a seasoned professional, ready to pull off those lightning-fast techniques, overdrive attacks, and gatling combos.  These strategies form the basis of the game.  Each fighter can dash forward, backward, and even in the air.  In addition, fighters can double and high jump.  All of these moves create very frantic fights where your fighters are always moving.  The overdrive attack can be unleashed when you have accumulated enough of your tension gauge (filled by your aggressive moves) and is essentially a beefed up special attack (a la Street Fighter).  Gatling combo is a fancy name for what is simply a combo using regular attacks, special moves, and overdrive attacks, and even some of the more advanced techniques.

These advanced techniques are the holy grail of the fighting in this game.  Executing them is illusive at first, but the payoffs are great.  Faultless defense creates a barrier around your fighter that prevents erosion of health from powerful attacks and pushes your opponent back further than the standard guard.  Roman cancels put breaks in the action and throw off your opponent’s timing by stopping your current move mid-combo, allowing you to orchestrate your own complex attacks.  Most of these deplete the tension gauge.  The game also offers recovery moves, counter-attacks, throws, the famous instant kills, and a new gauge called the burst gauge.  This gauge allows use of the psych burst technique, which adds further strategy to the game.  When the burst gauge is at its maximum, unleashing a psych burst will render your fighter invulnerable for a short time.  If you activate it within reach of your opponent it will cause offensive damage.  In some cases it will even increase your tension gauge to max, potentially shifting the momentum of the fight in your direction.

The graphics are beautifully conceived.  Not only are they sharp, colorful, and fluid, they are also totally original and seemingly unrestrained.  They allow the personality of each character to truly shine, as strange as some of these characters may be.  Even on my standard analog television the graphics soared, but included with X2 is progressive scan support for those of you with well-endowed viewing equipment.  While I can’t comment on this directly, I can say that a sharper game is beyond my imagination, so the progressive scan will definitely wow you.  To nitpick, the animation is not quite as smooth as say Street Fighter 3, but you will hardly notice during the wild battles.

In a way, music is a very central theme to this game.  Many of the character names allude to certain monsters of metal (Axl and Slayer to name a couple).  The music doesn’t disappoint, with heavy metal and a healthy dose of classical to keep the metal is classical crowd happy.  The sound effects are good, and purists will appreciate that the voices are 100% Japanese with English subtitles.

HIGHS:

  • A perfect blend of speed and skill
  • Gorgeous, sharp visuals
  • Incredible replay value with tons of game modes and extras
  • Unique characters

LOWS:

  • Very high learning curve, the lack of an in-depth tutorial hurts here
  • Quirkiness of characters may put some people off

FINAL VERDICT:

Guilty Gear X2 definitely gets my recommendation.  The game is gorgeous and crisp.  It is obvious that oodles of time went into the character design and general graphical presentation.  Don’t buy this strictly on the merit of graphics however.  If you aren’t a fan of 2-d fighting games, this won’t likely change your mind.  Even though it does a lot of unique things, it still fits the 2-d fighter niche.  The learning curve is also high compared to your average fighter, but your average fighter this is not.  It requires a quick hand and offensive determination, but the practice will pay off when you can start forming your own combos and warding off your opponent’s attacks.  X2 does just about everything I could imagine for a 2-d fighter, which, along with its challenge and extensive replay value (even the single player game), is why I endorse it.  Arc System Works has crafted a beauty.

Overall Score: 9.0

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