One on One competition in a computer game is a brutal affair, a mixture of fun, stress and potentially trash talking. There’s no outside interference, and ignoring any inherent skill you may have, the playing field is level. This is why fighting games especially are great. With every fighting game there are three options of play style:
1. The Expert: someone who knows every button combo and the motions to perform the best of the best attacks.
2. The Safety Player: Someone who can comprehend what jump, punch and kick are and use their limited move-set to win.
3. The Button Masher: Someone who hits every button and hopes for the best, occasionally they jump at the right time to avoid an attack, this is counted as a calculated and successful move.
More often than not fighting games rarely just stop at one game, they often span years and span multiple entry in the series. This is why fighting games have plots so crazy and insane that they make Metal Gear Solid’s plot arcs look like a simple telling of a nursery rhyme. Guilty Gear X2 #Reload comes in to the mix with a fine heritage and a back story for its characters that beggars belief.
Arc System Works and Kiss, not the band, has recently re-released Guilty Gear X2 #Reload on Steam. Although released on PC many, many years ago only now has Guilty Gear X2 #Reload come to Steam to join it’s GG brethren Guilty Gear Isuka. Guilty Gear Isuka was only released 9 months ago on Steam (January 2014) and with the hints from the community lead for Guilty Gear at Steam hinting more is on the way that news can only keep fans happy.
My knowledge of Guilty Gear is minimal at best, I’ve played BlazBlue which was the spiritual successor to the series, namely because of apparently awkward ownership issues, but until now I’ve never gotten my hands dirty with the series, my initial impressions were those of someone who stepped into a performance art piece when thinking they were going to a boxing match.
To say this game is crazy would be an understatement of epic proportions. There’s numerous characters that will make you query what is up with this game world, a witch called I-No who seems to own the sorting hat from Harry Potter and rock out with a possessed guitar. A character called Faust who was once a great doctor, then went insane, and then went sane with a crazy edge, mainly that edge being him wearing a paper bag on his head. Amazingly that’s all relatively normal when you compare their stories with Bridgette, a child from a village in England where having two twins of the same gender is bad luck, as such despite being born a twin boy, his parents raised him as a girl. He then wants to prove his masculinity in his teenage years and sets about becoming a bounty hunter. Somewhere along the line he finds a teddy bear possessed by a demon that turns into a yo-yo his weapon of choice.
Everything about this game screams style, whether it’s the beautiful art in the sprites or the backgrounds, or it’s the heavy metal references like the characters Slayer and Venom or when you win ‘SLASH’ appearing across the screen in big letters, everything is just simply cool. Animation is smooth and the music is a pleasure to hear, also with each purchase you can find the official soundtrack buried in the Steam folders.
Every time my friend and I try a new fighting game out we have a series of things to experiment with before we get to the fighting. The first thing is to see if the game uses the Capcom move set. By that I mean, whether with most characters you try to do a quarter circle forward and then follow it with a punch you get a decent move. Thankfully, and majorly to its credit, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload’s moves list is wonderfully simple, and those moves are well enough animated so that even if you aren’t doing big damage attacks you still feel like you’re doing something, you feel part of the action and you feel like a badass. The roster is big enough to keep you going with random characters selecting and the single player provides enough of a challenge so that people like me could try again and again and never complete it before giving up and returning to fights with a friend, locally.
There’s a lot of contention at the lack of online play, there is a user made patch that could be implemented but a number of people question why this wasn’t automatically implemented, rather than expecting Steam users to lay into the config files. I can see why this wasn’t practical, it would be a case of ensuring it was safe, but also getting in touch with the original creator who may have asked for recompense. All that being said, for a fighting game to be released in 2014, whether a new or re-release, without netplay enabled from the get-go does seems like a misstep from an otherwise sound release. There is also some issues with certain graphics cards, I was unable to get this game running on my PC tower unless it was in windowed mode, and it took quite a bit of tinkering to get it full screen on my laptop. Hopefully a patch down the line may open up some of this teething trouble.
The whole point of these reviews is for me, the almighty and powerful writer, to let you know whether you should spend your hard-earned sheckles on this game. In short, yes. I know this came out well before, but it does remind me a lot of Skull Girls but somehow more accessible. Skull Girls is a great game but, despite mostly using the Capcom move-set, it still seems a struggle to get anything going in terms of skills or combos. Guilty Gear X2 #Reload however is forgiving to players new and old. At the start of this review I listed the three main types of fighting game players in my eyes, Guilty Gear ticks all boxes and allows for fun and craziness from the get go. The art is a joy to behold, a ten-year old fighting game should not be as beautiful as elements of this game are. The Guilty Gear series is definitely an underdog in the world of fighting games, never reaching quite the peak of Capcom’s or Netherealm’s releases in the west, but I now truly consider myself a backer of this series, the story, the world, the combat, simply put it all just works, and it works damn well.