Fighters come in many different forms. Some come with swords while others fight with their bare hands. Some use common household items while others use unfathomable powers that root from the bowels of evil. Sammy Studios’ Guilty Gear X2 brings these fighters together in one game and allows them to continue the journey left behind in the game’s prequel.
Guilty Gear X2 takes place several weeks after the end of Guilty Gear X, the 2001 Playstation 2 title. Though the Gear was defeated and the bounty was collected, many combatants still have yet to hear the news. With new characters mixed with the old, the search for the Gear, among other things, continues.
At first glance, the intro provides enough of an insight to the anime style X2 is created around. The gorgeous character concepts are enough to capture any anime otaku (those obsessed with anime) and encase them in the absolutely gorgeous intro that takes the player through the new line up of characters.
Sammy Studios introduces six new characters to the already zany cast. First, a mysterious rocker chick by the name of I-No. No one knows her purpose but it seems that everyone, at one point, is working for her or proving to her that her defeat is legitimate. Next in the line up is Zappa. The poor boy is possessed by evil spirits and wishes only to find Faust to alleviate the terrible curse. The vampire, Slayer, joins the cast in hopes to either straighten out or destroy his guild, which ever he sees most advantageous. Lastly of the four new main characters is the unique boy, Bridget. He, due to a confliction of a twin birth, was raised as a female by his parents. Bridget’s purpose lies in finding Dizzy and destroying her as well as proving to his family that he is masculine. The other new characters are unlockable by different means throughout X2.
The mention of unlockables brings us to the extensive list of gaming modes X2 has to offer including, but not limited to, story, survival and multiplayer. Story, as in other fighters, takes you through each character’s reason for fighting and it is up to you and your skills whether or not they will succeed. Though each character has 3 endings, the combination of wins can make getting the different endings difficult and does not necessarily hold much replay value. M.O.M. mode brings back the medal mode from Guilty Gear X by having the characters go through single round duels to gain points from collecting medals. The contenders do not recover health from fight to fight but rather, health is replenished by picking up a certain type of medal in the fights. Mission, as it sounds, sets you out to defeat certain opponents by specific means whether it is by instant kill or regular win. You get to choose the missions you partake in and the number of missions completed sets forth the standard for gaining unlockables including the EX characters.
Multiplayer allows you to go up against one other player which is kind of a down side to the game since it would be interesting to see four players duke it out at once or a tag team type instance when there’s no story involved. This downside is not the only one in the modes of the game. Training proves to be a disappointment as well. Though it is not tacked on to any other mode, it is somewhat useless in actually training the player unless the player only wants to learn defense. There is no example of how the attack should look nor is there a guide, except the command list, that tells you how to complete the attack. This can be quite a loss for those non button mashers that like to have an actual training session rather than a go-at-it-until-you-think-you-have-the-move-learned session. Story, M.O.M., mission, multiplayer and training are just a few of the ways to play in GGX2. The other modes are just as fun without the need for griping due to their simplistic yet totally fun nature.
Some new features have been brought to the table, such as the burst gauge, to join the Guilty Gear signature features like Roman cancels. The burst gauge allows the user to unleash a counter attack when full by pressing R1+ any attack button. However, the use of the burst gauge must be used in correct timing to deal any damage to the opponent. The rest of the features rely on the tension gauge which increases with offensive actions, such as attacking, and decreases with defensive techniques, such as guarding. Faultless defense, a new feature, is an interesting technique that sets up an impenetrable barrier around your character but only lasts as long as your tension gauge holds out. The Roman cancels, the aforementioned signature Guilty Gear feature, hold a unique value in duels. They make it so that any attack can be cancelled in mid-animation and another attack can be executed immediately. Instant kills and overdrives just add to the uniqueness this title provides to the genre.
As mentioned before, the character design is a treasure all its own. Each character is given a distinct personality with a list of interesting moves to go along with it. The bright or dark colors given to the characters only enhance the side, Heaven or Hell, they represent. The backgrounds of the fighting sets are shadowed in a way so that the lighting from the background does not interfere with the actions of the foreground thus, making an ideal environment for fighting, especially with the 2D screen set up. The anime feel and 2D set up may be a turn off for some next-gen gamers but, just remember that’s what the fighter genre started with and you will be good to go.
Another thing that adds to the fighting is the rock based music. From the intro, you get a snippet of the type of music placed in the game. Also, the decision Sammy Studios used to stick with the Japanese voices rather than dubbing the game in English was possibly one of the better moves in the game due to the Japanese voices fitting so well to the history and personality of each character.
From decent characters to the lack of a useful training mode, the game does fair well in the fighting game genre however, it is not as strong as some of its leading competitors. With a different feel from most fighters, Guilty Gear X2 can hold it’s own but Sammy Studios may not be able to rely on X2 capturing the same amount of praise that some fighter titles receive. With that said, GGX2 may be good for a week rental unless you absolutely love the game but with the little amount of replay value, it’s not worth much more.