Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review #362: Blazblue - CentralFiction

 The end of Blazblue.... as if!
 Calamity Trigger, Continuum Shift, Continuum Shift II, Continuum Shift Extend, ChronoPhantasma, ChronoPhantasma Extend and now... CentralFiction. It sure's been a long ride filled with nonsensical titles, but we've finally arrived to the last chapter of Ragna's Story.... yeah, right....

 So, the story mode... it's as bad as it's always been. It's long, boring, derivative, filled with anime cliches, moments and characters you've already seen before and seen execute better. There're mandatory boob jokes, because it is an anime game and animu girls are never content with their breasts. The first four chapters are a an unbearable remix of Calamity Trigger, but, for what it's worth, for the very first time in Blazblue's history.... it did have some interesting plot points. Chapter 10 did get sorta interesting, even if Ragna's decision was very animu in nature. Now then, a lot of characters die or... evolve during the course of the story... but this is a Fighting game, we know that they will find a roundabout way to bring everyone back for the next installment, so don't worry too much about the fate of your favorite character. Plus, there's no way that this is the last Blazblue game, taking nto account how many unresolved plot threads were left hanging.
 Once you are done wasting your time with the generic, senseless and convoluted Story Mode, you've Arcade Mode waiting for you, and now there're up to three different 'Arcade Routes' per character, although not every character gets three of them. There're both online and offline VS modes, Grim of the Abyss(Think Survival with some customization elements), Score Attack(10-opponent gauntlets where you aim to score high), Speedstar(You don't lose health, you only lose time! It's a rather novel idea!), training, the obligatory combo challenges for every character and a tutorial. The tutorial, as per usual for the Blazblue franchise, is pretty good, and this time it offers pointers on every specific character and how they should be played, which is pretty neat. It's a very meaty offering of modes, more than what you get in your average Fighting game, plus, thirty characters from the get go.... it does feel like you are getting your money's worth out of the game... even if ArcSys scummy DLC practices are present here, because ArcSys is that kind of company. You can either finish the story or pay to unlock Susanoo(If you offer a paid alternative, you are basically admitting that your story mode is a waste of time), and during the story mode you actually get to fight Es a bunch of time, a DLC character, and then there's Mai, the second DLC character. At least these latter two don't make an appearance on the game's cover or the character selection screen, so we're making some progress.

 There're 5 new characters, and if you skipped Extend, like me, you are getting Celica and the returning Lambda as well, and since I didn't even buy ChronoPhantasma's DLC, this is also my first time with Terumi and Kokonoe, so, potentially, you are getting a lot of new characters. Hibiki is my favorite of the bunch, being a speedy rushdown character who can create clones with his drive, Nine is another personal favorite, she can pull off magic attacks with her normals, which the stock, and mix, for her Drive. Naoto is based around a chargeable Drive attack, but unlike Makoto there's no timing involved, regardless, he works better without using his drive! Izanami gets some projectiles at the cost of her guard while under her Drive and lastly there's Susanoo, who is built around unlock and powering up his special moves. I liked all the new characters, even if Izanami and Nine couldn't escape the obligatory Japenese panty shots during some of their attacks.
 Mechanic-wise the game hasn't seen many changes or additions, which I guess is a good thing, since the entry level barrier, if you want to go competitive, is rather high. Being an animu fighter, the game is already relatively friendly for casual matches, since you can just mash buttons and watch flashy stuff happen, but they've revised Stylish Mode to work more like it does in Guilty Gear Xrd. Mashing buttons will result in different combos(I tried it with only three characters, but it seemed like Naoto only had a single normal combo? But Jin had many more alternative combos) and there's a new fifth button that can be used to pull of special attacks by pressing it alongside a single direction on the digital pad or analog stick. There's also the new Active Flow, by playing aggressively you are rewarded with higher damage and the energy bar will fill faster, and a new Exceed Accel, a unique special move for every character usable only while in Overdrive Mode. Very simple mechanics to use and grasp, but in a game as deep and complex as Blazblue they turn into good additions.

 I haven't been able to enjoy Blazblue as much as a I did with Continuum Shift for a while now. The story is presumptuous drivel, character designs are too much animu, fanservicey and pandering for my tastes and ArcSys scummy DLC practices keep trying to make me feel as if they haven't had enough money. But CentralFiction was different. We've so many different characters already, so many different ways to play the game and some of the newest additions are so much fun to play as well as original. The game has accumulated so many mechanics already that there're dozens of ways to play the game, and doing flashy stuff is so easy even if you don't intent to play competitively or succumb to Stylish Mode. What I mean to say is that I feel like CentralFiction injects new blood into Blazblue, it might simply be 'more of the same', but the quality of the additions is very high.
 8.5 out of 10

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