Hey, you. Yeah you, staring at the screen. I see you there, thinking you’re pretty good at fighting games because you played Street Fighter II back in the day. Or maybe you beat all of your friends in Soul Calibur.
Well, this ain’t your grandpappy’s fighting game. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is the fifth installment in the Guilty Gear franchise, bringing the legendary series into the modern age with full 3D graphics. With this 2014 iteration, Arc System Works proved themselves the king of anime fighting games. If you’re a fighting game aficionado, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you’re not, consider lowering the volume a few notches down from eleven.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- separates itself from the pack with balls-to-the-wall action, flashy combos that last approximately a million years, more mechanics than you can shake a fight stick at, and stylish presentation that is anime incarnate.
Rhythm of the Beatdown
If you come from a more traditional fighter background with games like Mortal Kombat, the anime genre may surprise you. In a traditional game like Street Fighter, the air is a dangerous place. With no ability to block after jumping, the enemy can wait and punish any fool who dares enter their airspace.
In contrast, anime games spread their wings and take to the skies. Super jumps, airdashes, and double jumps enable players to mix up their approach and perform aerial combos till the cows come home. If you find yourself stuck in one of these combos, a burst will interrupt the other player’s beatdown. Bursts act like a get-out-of-jail-free card during a combo. Be careful though, as experienced players can anticipate and counter a burst.
Guilty Gear adds to these established mechanics with some of its own, featuring a laundry list of options like faultless defense, blitz shielding, dead angle attacks, and Roman cancels to give players a tool in any situation. While this seems like a lot of information to handle, the game’s in-depth tutorials offer players a way to learn. Soon you’ll understand the unique mechanics and intricate ballet (more accurately, rock opera) that is Guilty Gear.
The Performers of Guilty Gear
In Street Fighter, characters like Ryu, Guile, or Sagat have similar moves, relying on projectiles and strong anti-airs to control space. In Guilty Gear, no two characters feel even remotely the same. Each fighter packs an insane amount of depth, diversity, and nuance that rewards persistent players for learning the ins and outs of their character.
If that seems intimidating, don’t worry, as every character shares the same basic gatling combo. Gatling combos work by chaining a series of attacks that work their way up from lightest to heaviest hit. Once you’ve found a fighter that speaks to you, character tutorials and combo trails make exploring their individuality a breeze.
There exists no greater satisfaction than finally landing that insanely hard combo in a real game, or using a seldom-seen tool of your character to open up your opponent like a can of Pringles.
If competitive play isn’t quite your tempo, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- offers a wide array of single-player content. The story mode feels like a TV show, with a voice-acted story expanding the lore of Guilty Gear. Episode mode gives insight to each character’s individual story, with cutscenes that shed light on their background.
If you’re looking for a fight, the arcade mode allows players to customize the difficulty of the A.I. opponents, and the M.O.M. mode takes players through a series of battles with a progression system used to upgrade your character. Even if you don’t feel ready to face off against live opponents, casual players will find value playing solo.
Screenshots don’t do this game justice. Do yourself a favor and watch some gameplay, particularly from two players at a high level. Guilty Gear Xrd is the pinnacle of fighting game animation, utilizing a revolutionary art style that maintains the clarity of pixel-animated 2D fighters while allowing the freedom to swing the camera around a 3D model.
3D fighting games on a 2D plane like NetherRealm Studios’ Injustice generally lack the clarity hand-animated sprites. On the other hand, games like BlazBlue can’t reach the same level of intensity when it comes to super moves. Guilty Gear brings the best of both worlds, resulting in an experience that feels like playing out an over-the-top fight from an anime.
If you like fighting games, rock-‘n’-roll, and anime, Guilty Gear Xrd is a must-play. With rock solid gameplay, amazing visuals, headbanging music, and an insane depth of single-player content, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
To take advantage of all that Guilty Gear Xrd has to offer, make sure to pick up the -REVELATOR- upgrade and subsequent REV 2 DLC. That bumps the character count up to 25 and features an active multiplayer. Whether you’re a veteran or new to fighting games, Guilty Gear’s tenacious action and radical style will have you screaming for an encore.