Guilty Gear has a special place in my heart for fighting games, right next to Killer Instinct. While everyone was going on about Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, I would point to these unique, intense, cult fighting games that dared to dream bigger. Both games stole my heart for having unique characters; high-speed, high-combo action; all backed by an incredible soundtrack. It’s a good thing then that I never played Guilty Gear 2 -OVERTURE- when it came out on the Xbox 360 back in 2007, or it would’ve completely tainted my love for the franchise being a boring, dreary, slog of a game that does absolutely nothing with the strong foundation the series was built upon.
The first thing that surprised me about Guilty Gear 2 -OVERTURE- was that it was not a fighting game, at least not in the proper 2D, tournament style of its predecessors. Initial screenshots made it seem that Guilty Gear was taking the Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks approach, going for a 3D beat em’ up style game. But instead, the game is actually more of an RTS akin to something like Brutal Legend or Kingdom Under Fire. But rather than having massive battlefields to fight and conquer, Guilty Gear 2 -OVERTURE- has a sequence of fairly linear levels where players must capture nodes called “ghosts” and eventually the enemies “Masterghost.” It’s pretty straightforward as these action RTS games go.
However, while I have no problem with a change in gameplay for any franchise, what I do have a problem with is just how dull the whole game is. The combat is tedious and while it definitely makes an attempt to incorporate some of the technical elements of directional attacks and combo-building, it feels incredibly out-of-place in a game like this. It tries to go for Devil May Cry when it should’ve been going for Dynasty Warriors and in neither case is it fast or satisfying enough to be fun. The incredibly monotonous action is broken up every five seconds by incredibly boring exposition cutscenes, followed by added tutorial menus and it never seems like the game can settle on one mode of gameplay. In one mission it’s an RTS, in the next it’s a race (like literally along a racetrack), the next it’s a one on one fight, and not once is it ever interesting.
As is the case with a lot of these games, releasing an “HD remaster” of a game from the original Xbox era does it no favors. The game looks dated, even in HD textures, effects are pretty pathetic and the whole thing ends up looking cheap. The game doesn’t even have an intro cinematic, just a cold cut to the title menu after, “Now Loading!” flashes on-screen (the exclamation mark makes it more intense!) And like I said in my Senran Kagura review, Dynasty Warriors gets away with having 100 identical enemies on-screen because they’re soldiers so it stands to reason they’d be in identical outfits, and you don’t notice as you hack them to bits in fun fast-paced gameplay. But when there are four identical looking enemies to fight and that’s it, it just looks like you couldn’t put the effort in.
Problems find their way into the game’s sound design as well. The English voice work is particularly unbearable with flat readings of every line, which also doesn’t help when dialogue cuts out every other sound during gameplay. However, the soundtrack is the same high-octane guitar licks you expect from the series, so I guess that’s OK.
I can’t imagine even the most diehard Guilty Gear fans wanted this, then or now. Guilty Gear 2 -OVERTURE- lacks everything that made the franchise great. It’s directionless, its combat is boring, it’s missing the wide cast of characters that made the franchise unique and it’s emphasis on story consistently grinds the pace to a halt. Suffice to say, Guilty Gear 2 -OVERTURE- is a guilty wrench in the gears of such an amazing franchise.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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