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Blazblue: Central Fiction
 

 
REVIEW:  Blazblue: Central Fiction is the seventh installment of the series. Ever since Blazblue's 2008 debut in arcades (2009 on consoles), Arc System Works certainly tried their darndest to keep the series fresh by releasing both minor and major updates over the course of its lifespan. Perhaps the final "major" update to the series, Central Fiction was officially announced 12 days after the North American release of the prequel, Blazblue: ChronoPhantasma Extend. (Which came as a surprise to overseas fans who possibly shelled out their hard-earned money for a full price "new" game, only to find out that they will soon be playing an outdated version... yet again.) In any case, there's another new iteration of Blazblue out, and you should know by now whether or not you're excited about that.

The console version of Central Fiction does introduce the most new characters to ever appear in a sequel. A total of 7 newcomers join the fray:
Hibiki Kohaku, Naoto Kurogane, "Nine" (AKA Konoe A. Mercury), Hades Izanami, Es, Mai Natsume, and Susanoo (unlockable through completing story mode). Hibiki and Naoto are brand new characters to the franchise, while Nine and Hades Izanami are characters who appeared previously in the Blazblue storyline but are playable for the first time in Central Fiction. Newcomer "Es" is a crossover character from XBlaze and now has a role in the Blazblue storyline. And last but not least, the hulking beast known as Susanoo is the "true" final boss of Blazblue and the final form of Yuki Terumi. In addition to the colorful newcomers, all returning veterans have new moves added to their moveset.
  

7 new playable characters... The Wheel of Fate has grown to 35.

 
Following series tradition, the latest Blazblue on console features a ton of modes, many returning, some new. Central Fiction's modes are as follows: Story, Library, Tutorial, Training, Challenge, Arcade, Versus, Grim of Abyss Mode, Score Attack, Speed Star Mode, Alliance Mode, Network Mode, Replay Theater, Gallery and Item Shop. New aesthetics include cool "relaxing" tunes for the main menu and other menu screens. The character selection screen also debuts a new soundtrack, new artwork, and other refreshing visuals... (although, the fact that the select screen is unsymmetrical irks me a bit).

The new Item Shop features a slew of unlockable character colors (mostly non DLC, which is always good). It's always fun checking out the bizarre new alternate character palettes. Some are pretty slick, but others color combinations are such eye sores - featuring palettes that just don't match at all (keeping in tradition with the later of the GGXX series). Certain other palettes are actually homages to other fighting game characters - cool throwbacks that fighting game veterans can pick up on. Noel's original costume also unlockable in-game - a nice touch for fans of Blazblue since the beginning. Other crazy extras like unlockable "Location Test Voices" add even more variety for fans that appreciate such ridiculous extras.


Technical and Stylish gameplay modes return, making the game immediately accessible for players of any level. Furthermore, Central Fiction's Tutorial mode assists players in learning a new character, with Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Lessons, plus character specific lessons. Tutorial is narrated by a variety of characters throughout the mode, fully voiced in Japanese, who seem to want to help you learn Blazblue. In short, it's walls upon walls of (perhaps unnecessary) text with attempts at humor and "1000 times more" than you need to read in order to understand the mechanics the game is trying to teach you. (It's an Arc System Works fighting game Tutorial, what did you expect?) I also thought - do we really need another Blazblue Tutorial starring Ragna as the main character? Why not mix it up and use one of the newcomers? We've all been through Ragna's moves... what? 5 or 6 times by now? The BGM selection option during Tutorial is convenient way to break up the monotony, at least. And thankfully, the load times between Tutorial lessons are quick.

 

"Nine" is one of the 6 newcomers who will mix things up Central Fiction.

  
Central Fiction has an intimidatingly lengthy story mode, containing "three times" the story volume as Chrono Phantasma (approximately 30 hours of story content)! This sounds good on paper, if you're a huge fan of Blazblue lore... but there's one major problem. NO ENGLISH DUBS. The entire game is Japanese vocals only, which is a major disappointment for overseas fans. The character personalities "created" by the English voice actors really did something special for Blazblue's characters and spawned something of a cult following. To not have the "finale" of the story played out by the English voice actors is pretty much a sin. Not having English voices also makes "watching" 30+ hours of text-based story mode more than a chore, for some. I'm personally don't have time to sit and read Blazblue character dialogue for 30-something hours, so I won't be able to tell you my impressions about the game's story mode. It's long... It has some cool artwork... And it's long. I can tell you that much. 

As with most recent past installments, one of the main draws of the new version is the new playable characters. All 7 of Central Fiction's newcomers are impressively different from other characters in the series both visually and gameplay-wise. Discovering how to properly utilize each character's "Drive" attack/ability, along with their unique playstyle is fun, yet a challenging task if you want to master any character. Speaking of challenging... even after 7 installments, getting a grip on all of Blazblue's mechanics is a challenge all on its own.

Central Fiction's gameplay mostly borrows mechanics from Chrono Phantasma and Chrono Phantasma Extend. New gameplay mechanics, include: Exceed Accel, Active Flow, and Crush Trigger. The first is a new type
of Distortion Drive (performed by hitting "A+B+C+D" in Overdrive or holding "A+B+C+D" after Overdrive). Exceed Accel warps the background with new visual effects and if the attack connects, it's big damage. The next mechanic, Active Flow, is the opposite of Negative Penalty status. Active Flow will activate when a character fights aggressively, boosting damage and Burst Gauge recovery. This also increases damage of Exceed Accel (and may add extra effects and animations for certain characters). Finally, "Crush Trigger" is a faster Guard Crush that can lead to a combo when charged up.
 

Naoto looks like he punches hard... I always wanted a puncher in Blazblue.


Blazblue: Central Fiction was previously Arc System Works' best looking 2D fighter, reigning for several years even... but that all changed when Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- arrived. While Blazblue's 2D sprites are still impressive to 2D purists, Blazblue definitely doesn't have that "wow" factor that it did in 2009. Also, I was disappointed to find out that the "Scaling Type" option for how 2D sprites are displayed on your television screen are missing! Really? This feature has been in every past PS3 installment of Blazblue, but now it's suddenly missing in the PS4 version? How does that even make sense? Disappointing.

Online mode retains most of its features from past installments, but now features 2D character avatars that can move around 2D environments. The lobbies definitely aren't as cool as GGXrd's, but they're appealing for people into cute anime-type stuffs. Players can also design their own "rooms" for their avatars with various items? Points for uniqueness... I guess? This random feature seems catered to the Animal Crossing crowd more-so than players of fighting games (Animal Crossing does it better, I might add). In my experience on PS4, I found the matchmaking to be mostly a ghost town only a few months after the release. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the time of day or my beginner-level rank, but I wouldn't say the online community is thriving.

Page Updated: June 6th, 2017
Developer(s): Arc System Works
Publisher(s): Arc System Works
Artwork by:: Toshimichi Mori, Yuuki Katou
Platform(s): Arcade, PS4, PS3, PC
Release Date(s): Nov. 19th, 2015             ( Arcade)
Oct. 6th, 2016                ( PS4/PS3)
Nov. 1st, 2016                ( PS4/PS3)
Nov. 4th, 2016                ( PS4/PS3)
Apr. 26th, 2017              (Steam)
Characters Ragna The Bloodedge, Jin Kisaragi, Noel Vermillion, Bang Shishigami, Iron Tager, Arakune, Rachel Alucard, Litchi Faye Ling, Carl Clover, Taokaka, Hakumen, Hazama, Tsubaki-Yayoi, Makoto, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, Platinum the Trinity, Relius Clover, Nu-13, Mu-12, Amane, Bullet, Azrael, Izayoi, Yuki Terumi, Kagura Mutsuki, Kokonoe, Celica, Lamda-11, Naoto Kurogane, Hibiki Kohaku, Hades Izanami, Nine, Es, Mai Natsume, Susanoo

Featured Video:

Related Games: Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Skullgirls: 2nd Encore, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm, Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st], Killer Instinct Season 3, Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, King of Fighters XIV
 

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  7.0 / 10
Animation  8.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  6.0 / 10
Art Direction  7.5 / 10
Customization  8.5 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  6.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  6.0 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 7.7 / 10

 Review based on PS4 version

  

Final Words: Living in a post Guilty Gear Xrd world, Blazblue certainly doesn't have the "wow factor" or the spark that it had 7+ years ago... but, it's still Blazblue (whatever that is, exactly). For the hardcore players, there's plenty of new mechanics and moveset updates to dive into. For everyone else, there might not be enough this time to warrant yet another return to the "wheel of fate"... especially when there are so many other fighting games doing big things in 2016-2017.

Central Fiction is mostly, very familiar... but certain aspects are refreshingly new, at least. There's plenty of updated aesthetics, sounds, and artworks for the casual fans. As a very casual Blazblue fan, I was surprised (yet not surprised) when this new version was announced only 12 days after the North American release of the prequel, Chrono Phantasma. If I was a serious Blazblue player, I would be significantly peeved that the "new game" I just purchased hit "prequel" status after 12 days. At this point, diehard Blazblue players are either beyond disgruntled by now... or have become "used to it" and simply accept this practice. In any case, at least Arc System Works is supporting the series with new content in a "timely" manner. We can poke fun... but they are doing work. 

Thankfully, Central Fiction featurea enough to content to be deemed a proper, full sequel. Personally, the "bullet hell" projectile-wars, floaty-ness, and 45-hit corner trap combos still don't cater to my personal 2D fighting game tastes. I assume Blazblue: Central Fiction offers diehard fans one final reason to bust out their Distortion Drives and return to the 7-year-strong series, but if you're not a hardcore Blazblue'r... you're not missing out on too much this time. It's worth noting that the PS4 port doesn't offer anything extraordinary over its previous PS3 incarnations (in fact, it has less graphical options). If the new character designs look interesting to you, definitely check out Central Fiction... because they're even cooler to watch in motion. Otherwise, there are other big 2D fighting games in 2016-2017 that are definitely worth putting your time into.

In closing, it's clear that the golden age of Blazblue is behind us... but at least Blazblue is still doing its "thing" (whatever that is, exactly). Once again, the "final" Blazblue installment is a very authentic Japanese anime fighting game experience, with no English subtitles or voiceovers. That flaw, in itself, is pretty much a deal-breaker for many overseas fans who immerse themselves in 20+ hour story modes. English-speaking fans and voice actors alike actually held a petition to attempt to get English dubbing for Central Fiction, but to no avail. English dubbing isn't usually a big deal for a Japanese anime fighting game, but when "30+ hours" of voiced Story Mode is one of the main advertised features of the game... it is a big deal.
Sayonara Blazlue.  ~TFG Webmaster
 

 
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