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Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-
  

 
REVIEWReleasing back in 2014, Guilty Gear Xrd -
SIGN- was no doubt one of the premiere "next-gen" fighting games of the era, showcasing groundbreaking 3D-based visuals presented in a classic "2D" game style. Even non-hardcore Guilty Gear players could appreciate -SIGN- not only for its innovative visual style, but thanks to the streamlined, easier-to-grasp mechanics. -REVELATOR- is the ('everyone knew it was going to happen') sequel to move forward the vibrant new direction of the series, adding 6 new fighters to the roster (3 returning, 3 completely new). Arc System Works didn't have to reinvent the wheel to expand Xrd -SIGN- besides adding new characters and content, and they arguably succeeded with their usual formula of creating a "sequel"... but is it enough to win back fans who migrated over to other fighting games?

Arc System Works made great choices for returning characters. Jam Kuradoberi, Johnny and Dizzy never looked better and retain everything that made their personas and movesets stand out in the beginning. There were no missteps in bringing them back, especially since they don't look much different from their GGXX incarnations. Not to mention, their new "fleshed out" Overdrives and Instant Kills look TOO SICK. The (always) obscure newcomers to the series this time include: Jack-O, Kum Haehyun and Raven. Each of them have intriguing play-styles and bring something original to the outlandish cast. Whatever "opinion" of the character designs you might've had at first glance will likely be smashed to pieces when you see what these beasts can do in battle (for better or worse). Each of the newcomers are bat-shit crazy for different reasons... but all in good way. Somehow, Arc System Works still pulls off these "crazy" designs with superb detail and finesse. 
 

Guilty Gear... always with the sexy character select screen.

 
While the standard "recipe" of creating a sequel in Arc System Works' cookbook may work for hardcore fans, lesser-hardcore fans might notice they cut some corners with this release. First impressions matter... and one thing I was immediately disappointed with when I first turned on the game was the return of the SAME EXACT menu song from -SIGN-. You'd think they'd want to give REVELATOR a unique presentation over the prequel, but pretty much everything about the main menu feels "copy-pasted". The character select theme is also the same... (but I'll let that one slip because it is a badass tune). Thankfully, the substance of the new modes mostly makes up for the lack of a visual menu upgrade. Along with all the returning modes from SIGN, REVELATOR offers several new modes, such as a full-fledged Tutorial and charismatic Online Lobbies featuring customizable avatars players can move around.

I heard good things about REVELATOR's Tutorial Mode before playing it. From basics, to chain combos, to the deepest mechanics, the Tutorial covers everything (and more) that you need to know to play the game and proudly aims to discourage anyone from shamelessly button mashing. The Tutorial is "very good" in terms of its content and value, but I actually wouldn't rank it above some of the best-designed fighting game Tutorial modes I've ever played. Again, the substance is there... but it's presented in a loud, almost obnoxious way. Particularly, the clashing colors of the "oddball" Tutorial stage setting and the "props" (to avoid or jump over) really really hurt my eyes. It's like they designed this Tutorial mode to hurt my eyes while I learn. And why are we popping "pumpkin balloons" on a "beachy" water stage? On the bright side, beating up Jack-O's little minions while learning stuff is rather fun. Overall, a few things seem rushed and could've been implemented with more style, but Tutorial gets the job done and "playfully" introduces new players to the fairly complicated mechanics. Parts of the Tutorial are even legitimately challenging for a seasoned fighting game player, as it directly tests your input-accuracy and reflexes.

To talk about some of the other modes.... As a continuation of the Tutorial, Mission features "practical applications" and actual specific match-up strategies that hardcore players will probably flip out over. This sort of in-game training is the first of its kind in a fighting game, and a nice touch if you're serious about the game. Nitpicky pro-level players will also be happy with the Training mode, which includes tons upon tons of ridiculous options. Gallery features unlockable artwork, character voices, movies, music, and character colors (lots of stuff!) Last but not least, the obscure Digital Figure mode was released post-launch as a free DLC update. Digital Figure is basically a 1st-person camera mode where you can place the 3D character models on different backgrounds. You can also unlock lots of new figures and poses. Appreciators of obscure modes might enjoy this one, and it could even double as a drawing reference for you "artistic types".
 

Jam Kuradoberi will bring her martial arts waitress badassery to Xrd.

-REVELATOR- doesn't add or change that much about the gameplay engine or returning characters. All characters still seem just as powerful (and potentially broken) as ever. New / updated gameplay systems include: Throw Clash (nullifies throw when 2 players throw at the same time), Blitz Shield (allowing fighters to defend and repel attacks), and Burst Overdrive Attack (Activates an Overdrive Attack with increased damage. Also consumes 50% of the Tension Gauge and all of the Burst Gauge.) The new Blitz Shield is particularly interesting, because it now acts more like a Focus Attack from SF4 (and only costs one bar). Arc System Works also added "Stylish Mode" to REVELATOR (previously seen in Blazblue) which allows players to perform ultra-flashy combos simply by mashing one button. Scoff at it if you want... but Stylish Mode is great for "non-Guilty Gear pros" to get an understanding of how combos work. Even your lesser-skilled friends can mash buttons and make awesome stuff happen, so it's a welcome addition.

GGXrd -REVELATOR- features 2 main Story Modes. The regular "Story" will let players enjoy the console exclusive main story of the game, while "Episode Mode" features the arcade version telling of the storyline. REVELATOR's main 9-chapter Story Mode is very ambitious... but very very long (and a bit "sleepy" at times). You can expect plenty of typical "over-dramatic" anime fare, characters hitting badass poses, and a few LOL / WTF moments... but, the Story mode is made up of mostly talking. Many scenes seem to drag on and on... and on... without much change of pace or variety. Worst of all, there's no English dub. So if you don't constantly stare at the screen (for hours) to read the subtitles, you'll be lost.

Story cinematics and cut-scenes offer fairly-entertaining eye-candy most of the time and present the 3D character models in a new light. The 2D style animation mixed with the 3D character models is engaging to watch. The graphics aren't perfect, however... as there are some random unsightly textures and generic backdrops in certain scenes. The cinematography is pretty good, but there are some iffy camera angles with close-ups of boxy polygonal objects. Sometimes character models also appear heavily aliased in certain angles. At the least, REVELATOR's story is an artistic achievement, and while the actual story content might not be clear (unless you pay ultra-close attention) it is pretty clear that ASW put heart into this mode. They also managed to give all participating characters a good amount of screen-time, which is an achievement.

Strangely, there's absolutely no gameplay in Story Mode to break things up. (A very odd decision from ASW). I've nitpicked past fighting game story modes for not having enough gameplay and putting me to sleep... but ZERO GAMEPLAY??? Someone check my pulse. I thought this was a video game? Even when considering the coolest moments of the story, and the classic character cameos (no spoilers here), Story Mode isn't quite enough to stand on its own as something only to "watch"... but it is what it is.
 

Possibly the coolest (and cutest) online Battle Lobby of any fighting game to date!

 
To wrap things up, let's talk about Online Mode. Thankfully, the netcode has been vastly improved over -SIGN-. Fighting against players even in other countries (and with PS4 to PS3 cross-play) is surprisingly smooth at its best moments. It also states how many "delay frames" there are during online bouts, and it's actually accurate this time (unlike -SIGN-). By far, the coolest part of REVELATOR's new Online Mode is the all new Lobby system, which features chubby little Avatars with square heads whom you can customize with hair pieces, hats, and colors. Your Avatar can walk up to arcade machines and wait for opponents or just run around and look silly. Lobbies also feature a "Fishing" pond where your avatar can fish for new unlockables (again, there's a ton of unlockables! You can catch new character colors, emoticons for chat, digital figures, System Voices, lots of stuff. Your avatar can fish at any time while walking around the lobby waiting for opponents. The Lobby also features its own camera controls, with zoom-in and -out features so you can get that perfect angle on your chubby little persona.

Other options I liked about REVELATOR online: You can select your opponent in Ranked Battle to make sure the connection and opponent is to your liking. There are tons of settings for matchmaking (such as the feature to fight PS4 or PS3 opponents only) and tons of options for setting up a room, possibly the most I've ever seen in a fighting game (17+ options). There are even room "passwords" you can use to keep lowly riffraff out of your "high class, exclusive" club of a room. Another thing I LOVE  is that you can enter the game's full menu screen directly from online lobbies, which is a very convenient option that other fighting games should adapt in the future.

While REVELATOR's lobbies are charming as hell (and probably the most fleshed out battle lobbies I've ever seen in a fighting game), they aren't perfect. Lobbies can fit upwards of 50 players, but start glitching when they get this full (the arcade machines actually stop working for matchmaking). Player match rooms are a little more "under control" than the group lobbies, where players "line up" at arcade machines to play the winner (old school!!!). Player Match lobbies even have a little soccer ball you can kick around. Arc System Works still has a great sense of humor. Last but not least, GGXrd's lobbies might not be as populated as lobbies from more popular fighting games, and finding an opponent at certain hours can prove to be a difficult and lonely experience. Good luck out there!

Page Updated: April 28th, 2017
Developer(s): Arc System Works
Distributor(s): Sega
Designer(s): Daisuke Ishiwatari      (lead director)
Takeshi Yamanaka      (director/writer)
Hidehiko Sakamura
     (art director)
Artwork By: Daisuke Ishiwatari, Hidehiko Sakamura
Platform(s): Arcade, PS4, PS3, PC
Release Date(s): Aug. 25th, 2015          ( Arcade)
May 26th, 2016          ( PS4/PS3)
June 7th, 2016             ( PS4/PS3)
June 10th, 2016           ( PS4/PS3)
Dec. 14th, 2016           (Steam)
Mar. 30th, 2017         ( Arcade - REV 2)
May 25th, 2017
          ( PS4/PS3/PC - REV 2)
May 26th, 2017          (/ PS4/PS3/PC - REV 2)
June 1st, 2017             (Steam - REV 2)
Characters Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, Millia Rage, Chipp, Venom, Potemkin, May, Axl Low, I-No, Faust, Slayer, Zato-One, Bedman, Ramlethal, Sin Kiske, Elphelt, Leo Whitefang, Johnny, Jack-O, Jam Kuradoberi, Dizzy, Kum Haehyun, Raven
Featured Video:
Related Games: GGXrd REV 2, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear X, Guilty Gear X Advance, Guilty Gear XX, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, Guilty Gear XX Slash, Guilty Gear Isuka, Guilty Gear Judgment, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm, Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st], Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, Blazblue: Central Fiction, Street Fighter 5
    

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  9.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  8.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  9.5 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  9.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.5 / 10
Characters  8.5 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 8.7 / 10

 Review based on PS4 version

  

Final Words:

It's great to see Arc System Works still doing Guilty Gear in 2016. Anyone who enjoyed the Guilty Gear series in the 90's has little reason not to return to the series now. While Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- is obviously the "definitive" version of Xrd (for now at least), some may not think it's worth the full $60 price tag, as it carries itself as more of an "expansion" than a full-fledged sequel. Thankfully, you can now score the game for a more reasonable price, but don't forget you still might want buy DLC characters like Dizzy, Kum Haehyun and possibly Raven (who is unlockable in-game, but for quite a bit of in-game currency.) In any case, REVELATOR is a must play, especially if you missed out on SIGN.

If you're a serious Guilty Gear fan, it would seem you're in very good hands. REVELATOR seems to be everything a fan would want out of a sequel and possibly even more. While ASW may charge for "Day 1" DLC... and seem to love "making prequels irrelevant" by releasing new versions again and again, Arc System Works clearly still pours a lot of heart into their games. When REVELATOR was first announced, I said (in this very section) that "my fingers are crossed for at least 5 new characters". Indeed, Arc System Works matched my expectations and raised them by one! Excellent!

Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- is a beautiful game and a work of art. Don't let anyone tell you different. The camera angles during K.O's are epic and more dynamic than in SIGN, showing off the 3D stages and characters even better than before. The new pre-fight camera pan-in also gives you more appreciation of the graphics. Even if you don't fancy how Xrd plays, watching it played at a high level is impressive on a variety of levels. The new backgrounds are great eye candy (although I miss some of the originals from SIGN and wish they were still in the game). Character color options are also superb, as usual... with tons of unlockable colors per character (and even some flashy DLC ones if you want to go crazy).

Even though the product is great at its core, I was hoping for a "fresher" vibe from REVELATOR... as certain features and music tracks seem dated (copy-pasted from SIGN), but those are fairly minor flaws and easily looked over. Another minor gripe is the lack of character voice options (Japanese only). The lack of English dubbing in gameplay and story mode is a shame, and makes me appreciate games that do have this option, like Street Fighter V. (What? SFV has something that GGXrd doesn't? Indeed it does.)

Hardcore players already bought GGXrd -REVELATOR- (and probably mastered at least 3 or 4 characters) long before this review was written. However, if you'd consider yourself a "filthy casual" at Guilty Gear but you like the aesthetics of the game, you should absolutely give the game a spin. It's more accessible than it may look, with features like Tutorial and Stylish Mode giving you every reason to level up your game. And on that note... you should play REVELATOR while you can... before Arc System Works releases yet another sequel and makes this one irrelevant!
~TFG Webmaster
 

 
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