Sometimes you just want to fight. It’s that inexplicable feeling that overwhelms the male population. It happens when somebody cuts in front of you in a queue, or when somebody is driving in the middle lane – when there’s no traffic in the slow lane. I don’t know about you, but my left eye starts twitching at first. Then I start swearing, seeing red and begin breathing heavily – but I just don’t have it in me. I’m not a violent person. I live in England, I’m a pushover. Here, you’re either a softy or a vicious thug. There’s no middle ground. I’m a softy – but at least I don’t drive in the middle lane. I hate those people.
So what do me and the rest of the softies do when we need to fight? It’s simple, whip out the old PS Vita and crack on a fighting game. Which one you ask? Well, it might have to be Blazblue, although the PS Vita has a few fighting games available, and it’s still early days yet. There’s Marvel Vs. Capcom, Reality Fighters, and, of course, Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend. The good news, they all look pretty good, but we’re here to evaluate one in particular, so let’s get on with it.
Blazblue: Continuum Shift is pretty much a PS Vita port from the Xbox 360 and the PS3. It has all of the characters, stages and modes that the console counterparts have – and it looks just as good. The graphics on the Vita definitely measure up; quick combos, luscious extravagant moves, all backed up with awesome bright, colorful visuals to give this game that Japanese-arty feel that you’d expect from a game like this. I wish the same could be said for the menu system which looks and feels clunky and basic – it’s definitely out of place when you consider how good the game looks out of the menu system, but it’s not a majorly big deal. I just like neatness.
Where Blazblue really stands out for me is the wealth of content available – and at over 3GB (for the downloadable version) you’d expect a meaty game. There are a ton of modes on offer, from arcade to multiplayer, story and career modes, options to let you train, exhaustive tutorial modes, a Score Attack mode which is pretty addictive if you have friends who play this game, a mode called Unlimitedmars which is like a hardcore fighting mode that’s painstakingly difficult and many ways to play online or multiplayer offline as well. In todays market, a plethora of modes and options can only be a good thing – on first glance it really looks as if the value for money factor is here.
If you press on from here, the options keep growing. There are nearly 20 unique characters to try right off the bat without having to unlock a thing. Each character has a unique list of special moves as well, a bunch of eye-pleasing, skull-bashing, ultra ferocious attacks that will quench your lust for any violence you may want to partake in a lifetime. Satisfying.
So with all those options, there’s got to be some kind of catch right? I can only see a few, the first being that Blazblue has quite a high learning curve for a fighting game. I’m use to picking up a game in this genre and just mashing buttons, it’s the simple pleasures in life. With this game, there are serious combinations to remember, and if you want to do well, you’ve got a choice: either remember them, or enable Stylish Mode. This mode turns the game from a complicated affair to one of those button mashing games that I was talking about before – deadly combinations assigned to quick mashes of any one of the many buttons on offer. The advantage here is it makes the game a little more accessible for those who don’t want to invest a lot of time on the tutorials (there’s a lot of tutorials, and they take quite a long time to get through too). The disadvantage with Stylish Mode, is that by using it, you might be okay with most of the game, but online against real people, or on the harder modes, Stylish Mode won’t cut it because not all of the moves are available with it activated.
That’s really the biggest flaw for me. Blazblue is either deliciously complicated or stupidly simple, and there’s no middle ground. I felt lost in the sheer amount of choice available, and the tutorials bored me to tears. Maybe I’m just never happy, but I don’t want to be assaulted with options, modes and characters without any knowledge of what to do. I want to unlock and earn modes, discover characters, and have a little bit of structure in my fighting games.
Don’t get me wrong, if you study each mode and have patience to endure the tutorial you’ll probably go far – and the content here isn’t bad, on the contrary, it’s quite enjoyable. It goes without saying that if you’re a Blazblue fan, you won’t be disappointed by this exceedingly good port – but those who are just in the market for a fighting game might want to wait for something with a more backbone.
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