Some aspects of Guilty Gear X2 #Reload may seem antiquated, but the game still manages to deliver a solid fighting experience that feels extremely original even after years of its release.
The last few years have seen the revival of the fighting game genre with popular titles such as Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat among some others. As a consequence of the popularity and the incredible amount of consistency the aforementioned titles have, it’s really hard to go back to certain games in the genre. Although some aspects of Guilty Gear X2 #Reload may seem antiquated, the game still manages to deliver a solid fighting experience that feels extremely original even after years of its release.
For the uninitiated, the original Guilty Gear XX (also known as X2: The Midnight Carnival) was a two dimensional anime-style, sprite-based fighting game that featured some of the most flamboyant characters ever created. Furthermore, that game had better graphics than Guilty Gear X and new gameplay mechanics (such as Force Roman Cancel, Air Throws and Aerial Dust.) Fortunately for fans of the series, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload brings the same level of panache along with a more balanced gameplay, tweaked controls and even more characters.
All in all, the game has a variety of modes including arcade, versus, training, survival, mission, story and some others. As you can see from this description all the mandatory modes have been included along with some refreshingly unique ones. In mission mode, the player is required to undertake various… well, missions. Most of them are quite simple as the player needs to defeat an enemy within a limited time in order to progress. But there’s a twist, as some of these missions prevent you from using certain special abilities like jumping or combos. In total, there are a hundred missions to complete and even though this may seem like a staggering number, most of them are eerily similar to each other and quickly become overly repetitive. Then we have survival mode which lets you fight random enemies and as you use different combinations of attacks, your character levels up. Every time you reach a number of levels multiple of twenty, you participate in a boss battle. Interestingly enough, the bosses happen to be darker versions of regular characters and apart from having a different color scheme, all their respective moves remain the same.
And then we have the main story mode. In this mode, you select a character to fight a specific number of enemies and between each fight you hear both characters stating their unidimensional motivations. Additionally, at the end of the final fight you watch a specific ending to the fighter you chose in similar fashion to Tekken 3. Although the story mode offers a nice diversion to all the other generic ones, the ridiculously simple plots feel forced and contrived. You clearly see that there are two characters speaking, but there’s never real interaction between them. On top of that, characters lack proper motivations, making the process of listening to dialogues dull and excessively long.
Graphically, the game has some appealing anime-style visuals that enhance the characters’ colorful look. When you first look at the weird bunch of fighters, you may think that this is yet another roster full of stereotyped characters. If you think that, you may be right, at least to a certain extent. There are charming bounty hunters, stylish vampires, deadly mercenaries, busty ladies, giant evil doers, androgynous young men and mysterious ninjas. But wait, as the list goes on and on. Then there’s a guy called Badguy, a girl who fights with a Yo-Yo who’s actually a man… Wait, what? Yes, the game comprises a wide array of grotesque-looking characters that add to its bizarre sense of humor.
Characters animate quite well during the fights and the story mode even includes the original Japanese voices. Unfortunately, the dialogue becomes unbearably long, diminishing the voice actors’ great performance. In addition, the different stages are varied, detailed and quite colorful, maintaining fights vibrant and enthralling even after hours of playing the game. Another element that adds to the game’s bizarreness is the soundtrack which is composed of multiple heavy metal songs that seem particularly suitable for an over-the-top fighting game like Guilty Gear.
But even when Guilty Gear X2 #Reload feels like a splendid fighting game, it does have some serious flaws. The most prominent one is probably the fact that the game can become really technical once you start fighting against experienced players. Unfortunately, the basic mechanics are never explicitly explained and the training mode does a poor job at providing some additional details about some of the more advanced moves. As in most fighting titles, getting good at Guilty Gear X2 #Reload takes both practice and finesse, but the game does little to alleviate the aforementioned issues as it never clearly explains some of its most basic elements. It’s a shame that the game has such a deep combat system and that you may never get to actually discover it. If you pause the game, you can look at your character’s full repertoire of moves and combos, but this isn’t very helpful when you don’t know how to use basic maneuvers like Recovery or the Roman Cancel. It’s like the game expects players to figure out things on their own. Another problem is the conspicuous absence of an online mode. The game doesn’t include online connectivity of any kind so the only way to play against others is through local multiplayer.
Guilty Gear X2 #Reload is a terrific game. The unconventional roster of characters suit the game well, the breakneck action is definitely engrossing, there are barely loading times at all and most modes are quite gripping. Unfortunately, the story mode is deeply disappointing, no online modes have been included and the basic combat system is poorly explained. In the end, if you do have somebody you can play with locally, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload is a great option. If not, you’ll probably be very disappointed.