Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- - This Must Be Heaven

Review by Nathan Miller
Exclusively on PS3 and PS4

Gif of Chipp using one of his Overdrives.

Gif of Chipp using one of his Overdrives.

Over the years, fighting games have amassed a close-quarter community that are passionate to their core. Although they are ruthless on the coin machines regardless of your pedigree, they are willing to embrace anyone capable of standing toe-to-toe with them. The same can be said about the fighting games themselves. The community can ultimately dictate the success of a game especially when it is one that is not known by casual gamers. Guilty Gear is a series that has graced many different consoles yet remains somewhat a cult classic of fighting games. It is popular in the tight knit fighter community, but anyone outside of it most likely would not know of the series. The Guilty Gear series is a heavy metal loving technical fighter that is not easy to pick up.  As the guitars wail behind the clashing of fighters, you can't help but feel energized about the experience. Arc System Works has transformed the game into a 2D/3D hybrid fighter utilizing the Unreal 3 Engine and created the visually best looking fighter I have ever seen. The fighter intros, story cut-scenes, and fast paced gameplay will leave onlookers in awe with its anime level visuals and detail. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- has updated itself to keep up with the competition, and they have easily surpassed most of them. There is a lot to praise about this game, so let's check out more about it.

The Story

Burst meter next to character's name. Tension meter is on the bottom.

Burst meter next to character's name. Tension meter is on the bottom.

The nations of the world are at full alert when a woman identifying herself as Ramletherl Valentine has declared war against the entire world. The severity of past events, that lead to the destruction of the capital city in the United Kingdoms of Illyria, has made no one take this threat lightly. The name Valentine was involved in that unfortunate event which makes the appearance of this new individual that much more unnerving. As various people step forward to put an end to the situation, there seems to be a mysterious group with tremendous power working behind the scenes with Valentine as the facade. There are 15 characters included in the game with two more as DLC. Every character has their own story-line and even the DLC characters are a part of the story mode (Non-playable).

  1. Sol Badguy - Bounty Hunter who decided to take matters into his own hands.
  2. Ky Kiske - King of Illyria with a long history with Sol Badguy.
  3. Millia Rage - Ex-Assassin searching for Eddie.
  4. Zato-1/Eddie - Resurrected for an unknown reason. 
  5. May - Leader of a pirate group. She is searching for her predecessor Johnny. 
  6. Potemkin - Presidential Guard who will fighting to the death for his country.
  7. Chipp Zanuff - Ninja turned President. Chipp is looking for recognition of his new role. 
  8. Venom - The pool cue wielding assassin's guild leader.
  9. Axl Low - British time-traveler still stuck outside the 20th century.
  10. I-No - Guitar wielding woman on the hunt to kill Sol Badguy.
  11. Faust - A genius turned insane doctor who performs operations on random people in need.
  12. Slayer - Vampire and retired leader of the Assassin's guild. 
  13. Sin Kiske - Son of Ky. He is being mentored by Sol Badguy.
  14. Bedman - A mysterious individual with a mysterious goal. He is attached to a mechanized bed. 
  15. Ramletherl Valentine - The antagonist who challenged everyone and everything.
  16. Elphelt (DLC)
  17. Leo Whitefang (DLC)
DLC Characters already have a space waiting for them.

DLC Characters already have a space waiting for them.

The Gameplay

Swimming? Yes..

Guilty Gear Xrd is very close to its predecessors in terms of gameplay. Dashing and movement along with combos and overdrives (super moves) are all familiar mainstays of the franchise while psych burst, roman cancel, and blitz shield are what separates the hardcore players from the casual ones. Psych burst pushes the opponent away from you as they begin to unload on you. Roman cancel interrupts whatever your character is doing in order to perform a new action. Blitz shield will repel attacks thrown at you for a certain amount of time. Roman cancel and blitz shield requires "tension." The player has a gauge at the bottom of their screen for "tension," and it is the power bar that is built up by taking or inflicting damage like most fighters. "Tension" should be on the player's mind at all times especially when debating whether to use an overdrive rather than one of those skills. Psych burst has its own little gauge next to the player's name. You do not want to use it if you do not need to.

There is a mid-fight event that is triggered whenever attacks from both fighters land simultaneously called "Danger Time." Whenever this event is happening it is crucial that you either inflict damage or avoid being hit, it is a great opportunity to completely destroy an opponent with combos. A dust attack is a launch type of move every fighter has that can be used to knock opponents away or unleash a small combo up in the air. Lastly, this would not be Guilty Gear without instant kills. Whenever you unleash an instant kill, an animated sequence of pure opponent destruction occurs that is very gratifying to say the least.

In terms of game modes, there is a network mode (online multiplayer), a mission mode, a  challenge mode, a story mode, a training mode, an arcade mode, a versus mode (local play), and M.O.M. Mission mode is a great way to learn a player because it involves doing every move for each character. Challenge mode kicks it up a notch by having you do the combos for all the characters. Arcade mode explores the stories of each individual character and is a necessity for every fighting game. M.O.M is a mode where you fight against CPU opponents to earn medals that will upgrade your character of choice. When you are confidant enough, you can take your enhanced character online and battle another player's enhanced character. Also, there is a gallery so you can view unlocked cinematic scenes, check out the games artwork, or listen to the game's heavy metal soundtrack. 

The Good

The risk Ark System Works took with the visuals and new game engine has paid off ten-fold. Colors lush out with a vibrancy better than most games in general. If anyone was to see the game in action, they would be instantly interested in learning more about it. Guilty Gear Xrd has incorporated nearly all the lore of the series and made it accessible for new or even returning players. The story is fleshed out more than any other entry of the series, and it has hours of storytelling within the game. Some animated and some in text form. The game is difficult to master, but this entry has introduced modes (mission and challenge) that can turn a novice player into a better one. The gameplay is always top grade in every sense of the meaning. The game is precise in every input you make and will reward those with patience to unload combos when necessary. If you have never played a Guilty Gear game, they would feel slow in terms of movement. This is not true at all. The moment you start dashing and stringing together moves is the moment you realize how fast this game is. It is a game that is dictated by its player, and it is a blast once you get the hang of it.

Instant Kill: The Grand Finale

Instant Kill: The Grand Finale

The online component of Guilty Gear Xrd has been responsive and fluid. I have not experienced an overwhelming amount of lag yet. The online is a tad weird in terms of setup, but it does it job just fine. One of the coolest features Guilty Gear Xrd has is the ability to cross-play between PS3 and PS4 users. It opens up the floodgates for possible opponents and if your friends have not made the leap to next-gen consoles, the ability to play against them in this game is a phenomenal feat. M.O.M is a cool concept mode that helps personalize the experience especially when you use your enhanced character online. It is a new type of mode unfamiliar to other fighters, and I welcome new ideas that push what is expected from fighting games. Also, the characters are diverse and more fine-tuned than ever. Each character has had the microscope over them and have been given a little extra in certain areas to give them a little more oomph. Lastly, did I mention how impossibly amazing this game looks? I seriously have never seen a better looking fighting game. Not only that: 1080p 60fps for PS4 users.  

The Bad

Wait.. What?

The Guilty Gear series is not known to have a huge roster of characters, so fifteen characters can be disappointing after paying $60. Luckily, the characters require a lot of practice to fully understand how they play so many players would be occupied with that alone. Although, the difficulty could be a turn off for players who would rather pick up and play the game. The story mode is a lengthy visual novel with cut-scenes mixed in with a lot of text and moving images. It can be a bit of a letdown that you do not actually play the story mode, but it is worth checking out because you will actually know what the game is about. Lastly, everything has been translated from the original arcade edition but somehow the online profile "titles" are still all in Japanese. I scratched my head in bewilderment because everything else was perfect in regards to translations.

Conclusion

Arc System Works built a Guilty Gear worthy of next-generation consoles, but they were kind enough to give last-generation a taste as well. Hell, they even threw in the ability to play against one another regardless of which platform you pick it up on. This fast-paced technical fighter may be the bane of a novice's existence but once they are running on all cylinders, they will be engulfed in the best fighter currently available. If they use the tools (mission and challenge mode) given to them, they will attain excellency faster than being destroyed online repeatedly. The characters are full of life and are only fortified with the storytelling within the game. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is the fighting game Playstation owners have been waiting for.

Into the flames

Final Pew Rating: 5 out of 5 Pews

Should I buy this if I am a street fighter fan? i recommend this game to any fan of fighting games. this game is more technical than the recent releases of street fighter, so you may need to practice before going online.

Should I invest in those DLC characters being released? Yes, more characters is always a good thing. they were never in the arcade version either, so they are console exclusive. the first dlc character will be free for a limited time.

Should I wear a bag on my head and roam around the world performing surgeries on random people? Uhmm, I think you are taking these characters too seriously my friend.