Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Can you believe the Guilty Gear series
has been around for 16 years now? (Granted it took about 12 years for Arc System
Works to be done with "updating" the original GGX series... but
here we are!)
Ever since its first appearance on PS1 in 1998, Guilty
Gear distinguished itself as an unorthodox, "extreme" take on the traditional 2D fighting game
recipe. This unique direction in terms of gameplay and visual design still drives the
series forward, with GGXrd leading the way in the "next gen" of
2D fighting games. The outlandishly cool
character designs, wild special moves and frantic 2D gameplay are all preserved
(and enhanced) in the latest installment... the long-awaited "reboot" of
the franchise, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-. This title would be followed by
two sequels adding new characters and content, Guilty
Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- and GGXrd
An entirely new game from the ground up... GGXrd -SIGN- is simply a "gift" to 2D
fighting game fans. Every staple you'd want in a new 2D fighting game is present,
but Arc System Works has strayed far from the formula of the mundane. GGXrd introduces a familiar yet vibrantly new art style represented
in-game, beautifully utilizing Unreal Engine 3 and Sega's RingEdge 2
hardware. As a 2D sprite fan since the late 80's, seeing a 2D fighter looking this good
nearly brings a tear to my eye... (a manly tear,
that is; falling in sync
with heavy metal guitars blaring in a backdrop of fire and demon chicks dancing
with samurai swords).
No, really... GGXrd -SIGN- does more than "raise the bar" visually for 2.5D fighting games (another way of
saying 2D fighting games with 3D graphics). Xrd's
innovative, A+ graphics engine redefines the expected visuals of a 2D
fighting game, be it "anime" or anything else you want to define it as. Using intricate 3D character models as a
base (a technique they've been using since GGX), Xrd's clean,
crispy cel-shaded 2D character "sprites" (if you dare call them
sprites) are incredibly charismatic from all angles. And indeed, you
enjoy them from many different camera angles onscreen.
The camera will dramatically
change position during launchers and super moves, offering a truly dynamic view
of the action. If you look close, you can even notice
subtle "3D-ness" of the characters while they're moving around
onscreen by default (more noticeable on larger characters like Potemkin). I really can't offer any more
words to describe the beauty and artistry behind GGXrd; you
simply have to
experience it for yourself...
times... it's difficult to believe we're looking at 3D graphics... not 2D.
Alright, I guess I can say a little more about GGXrd's
Not only do the charismatic fighters force their awesomeness down your throat during their
epic super-move cutscenes, but the flashy special-move effects & hit sparks completely fill the screen at times and are clearly no afterthought. Some of those
projectiles alone are mini "artworks" in and of
themselves. Thanks to such attention to detail, each character's fighting style
and "theme" shines more vividly than ever
before. All of the fine details of each character's updated outfits also make a
statement in-game. Another stand-out visual element are the various "K.O." camera angles,
which somehow manage to make every final hit of each match EPIC.
I don't know how Aksys pulled it off... but no matter the
circumstances, K.O.'s just look badass... every time. Not to mention, GGXrd's
the most cinematic I've seen in any fighting game to date, and they don't "take
you out of the action" either! (I considered this a flaw in several past 2D
fighting games which attempted the same thing: Injustice & Tatsunoko
VS Capcom, for example).
In terms of gameplay, Guilty Gear was arguably never as intuitive or as
"easy to get into" as other 2D fighters. Furthermore, the numerous
updates of the former GGXX series ended up making gameplay nuances and
character changes a bit difficult to follow for casual, "on &
off" players. Thankfully, Xrd offers streamlined character movesets
and a slightly toned down gameplay system over its predecessors, making it much
more accessible to new players. I've never been a hardcore Guilty
Gear player, but I can't see a single "change" to the gameplay
that a seasoned player couldn't adapt to (and no doubt get the jump on any
casual player). Nearly all staple mechanics from the long-running GGXX
series have returned in Xrd, joining some brand new ones: Instant Kills, Roman Cancels, Clashes, Blitz Shield,
Faultless Defense, Dead Angle Attack, Psych Burst, Repel and Danger Time. Like
in past installments, "Roman Cancels" allow the interruption of
movement, actions, and the recovery of actions (and are the key to hitting those
long, damaging combos). Roman Cancels cost 25% or
50% of the Tension Gauge (also used for super-moves).
There are now 3 types of "Clashes" in the game: Normal, Repel, and Danger
Time. "Danger Time" occurs when both characters collide with powerful
attacks (but happens randomly, and not too often). A special cinematic will occur
during Danger Time... the character that lands the first attack will cause a
Super Counter, and has the opportunity to hit a very damaging combo. "Blitz
Shield" allows characters to temporarily take a stance to repel the
opponent's attacks. While in the stance, the opponent's attacks are repelled,
opening a chance for a counterattack. I suppose that's enough "pro
talk" for now... can we just get back to looking at how pretty this game
is? Yes, let's do that.
Character Select Screen & Color Select System... is HOT.
In a game like GGXrd, simply hitting buttons and throwing out random special moves
with your staple circle & charge motions can be fun for
beginners & casuals (and it won't make them look like idiots either - because
always looks cool no matter what). However, if you want to learn to play
GGXrd like a pro... the comprehensive
in-game Tutorial, Challenge and Mission Modes will guide you through everything
you could imagine! Tutorial takes you through the very basics up
to intermediate systems and techniques, and features character voiceovers to entertain
players along the way.
Upon starting Tutorial, Sol Badguy explains ever so eloquently, "Alright, the basics are, you punch shit till it stops
moving. Got it?"
If the silly dialogue doesn't humor you, the extra "fun
facts" you get after completing each successful tutorial
might be your cup of tea. Basic Training options are very well put together, and
the combo challenges are freakin' great, too. Want to learn a particular character
(or two... or five)? Challenge Mode cuts experimenting time by
giving you more than enough combo options to get you acquainted with your fighter of
choice. It's all easy to understand, and the CPU will even perform a live demo
of the combo if you can't quite grasp it by the description alone (indeed, some are very
It's great to see such a well-executed tutorial mode in a fighting game... Arc
System Works continues to be a leader in the genre when it comes to welcoming
new players and making it as easy as possible to learn a pretty complicated
game. Even with all the in-game help provided... Guilty Gear Xrd is still an intimidating fighting game to get
into, even for an experienced fighting game player! Crazy air dashing
techniques, command-heavy combos, various types of cancels, etc. There's A
LOT to wrap your head around. But like most quality fighters, practice pays off. And in
GGXrd's case, you're rewarded by being able to play
this ultra stylish-looking
fighting game... ultra stylishly.
But worry not... if you still suck at GGXrd after months of training, your
still look epic, at the least.
think of a fighting game with more epic-looking air combos... So slick.
Guilty Gear still lives and dies by its
unorthodox character designs. You won't
find the straight-forward Karate master, traditional swordsman or hard-hitting
Muay Thai fighter in this universe. (On that note, sometimes it takes a game like Guilty Gear
to remind fighting game fans why we still love our simpler, more ambiguous character
designs). But when it comes to pure originality and creativity, GGXrd's colorful and elaborately fleshed-out
character roster stands out proudly in the genre. After you give some of Xrd's characters a chance (even
if you've previously tried them in past games), you'll probably be surprised
with what you find this time around. There are tons of new moves & techniques
to check out, and a few take inspiration from past fighting game characters you
might know (and love).
Old school 2D fighting fans might notice some new attacks have been "inspired" by other famed
fighting game characters. This isn't a bad thing either, because some of the
moves end up feeling familiar and comfortable (a good thing considering Xrd's
steep learning curve). For example: Leo Whitefang's
"Kaltes Gestober Erst - Zweit - Dritt" looks and functions very similarly to Genjuro's
classic 3-hit slash in the Samurai Shodown series. Another example is Potemkin's "I.C.P.M." new air
attack, which is eerily similar to Juggernaut's jumping body splash in the Marvel
VS series. You might also say some of Sin Kiske's moves are comparable to Kilik's of Soul Calibur fame, and a few of Elphelt's artillery attacks
are reminiscent of B.B. Hood's from Darkstalkers. And no, I'm not calling
these moves "rip-offs"... as the GGXrd crew definitely add their own spin on their moves. Furthermore, newcomers like Elphelt, Bedman, and Leo
each present very original fighting styles, utilizing strategies and attacks
never before conceived in the fighting game realm.
GGXrd's new character designs truly offer something unique to the series
and shouldn't be missed (but sadly, you'll have to shell out some
for DLC if you didn't pick
up Xrd at launch).
Unlike the reckless, unhinged heavy metal BGMs of past Guilty Gear titles,
soundtrack offers a more diverse sound and variety of music tracks. The
majority of songs are still strongly guitar-driven with hellishly infectious
riffs, but now include some jazzy elements, and sometimes a bit of keyboard and piano to calm things down. Some
tracks even sound like they could come out of Blazblue's OST (which is
a good thing in my book), but in the end, still manage to have that trademark Guilty
Gear vibe. Instead of writing all of that, I guess I
could've just said GGXrd's soundtrack sounds f*cking great... because it does. *Throws
up devil horns*
Character voices in Xrd have also gotten a huge makeover. Most
English voiceovers aren't terrible, but some definitely don't fit the characters
(Venom's is pretty bad).
Naturally, most characters sound way cooler in Japanese. But regardless of the voice acting itself, Aksys did an
excellent job fleshing
out all of the character personalities. I never knew the Guilty Gear cast
could be such a
talkative bunch (and literally, some of them never shut up, like Leo & Bedman)!
Arc System Works continues to innovate on this
front (as they've been doing for years with Blazblue),
because not only do characters have unique spoken dialogue before and after fights
(which oftentimes correlates with their opponents), but there's also exclusive
dialogue DURING Instant Kill moves as well. It's insane, awesome attention to
detail... and unless you watch some sort of compilation, it'll take you a very long time to hear all of
Xrd's unique character-to-character dialogue.
Zato-One hasn't changed
much. Millia on the other hand...
While every character has
their own cinematic cutscenes & endings within Arcade Mode
(which are very well done by the way), GGXrd's actual Story Mode doesn't
involve the player at all. It's simply a multi-chapter movie, and you might say
it's pretty good for a "short" anime. I actually haven't completed it
100%, so I may add my impressions (right here) in the near future. In addition to the Battle,
Training, Story, and Network modes... there's the Database section, which includes: Profile, Replay, Gallery, Library.
Profile is your online "R-Code" card which you can customize in a few
ways. Replay allows you to play back and manage saved replays with various
options, including frame-by-frame playback & battle analysis. In Gallery,
players can unlock artwork, movies, BGMs and extra character voices.
And finally, Library mode offers a ton of information about the Guilty Gear
universe and all of its characters... definitely some cool stuff if you like
There isn't much to complain about concerning GGXrd... but one gripe I've had
from past installments still remains: inconsistency in the animation.
Simply put, some animations are impressively smooth and then some aren't. But
fighting game going for the "anime" look, this is to be expected.
On the bright side, many past animations have been greatly improved. For
example: Potemkin's walking animation (previously choppy) is now insanely
smooth. Oddly enough, some smaller characters' walk animations look pretty choppy
(Millia's for instance). Some standard attack
animations also don't have very many frames. (For example: May's airborne slash has
her swinging her giant anchor from behind her head downward to her opponent...
and the anchor movement is done entirely in "1 frame").
More "support animations" definitely would've been nice in some moves.
On the bright side, the "shortcuts"
taken in some animations are hardly noticeable during combos
and the fast-paced gameplay... so it's not a huge flaw. Overall, GGXrd's
animation style is excellent, and the "limited / anime-inspired" 2D animations
meshed with the 3D graphics engine actually manage to create a certain magic...
even if it is imperfect.
GGXrd's Network Mode keeps a similar setup to other recent fighting game
efforts by Arc
System Works. However, Xrd's is noticeably less refined than Persona
4 Arena: Ultimax's layout. The Battle Lobbies in Xrd are broken up into regions
(your actual location) and allow for
64-player rooms (which never seem to get even close to that big). The new lobbies
enable players to meet friends & other players, create and
customize a VS room (with various options), spectate & comment, and even chat using character voices. Each individual "room" of players can
support several matches at once, with player icons simulating sitting down at
arcade cabinets. In general, Network Mode is nosier and more confusing than it needs
to be, but the decent options make up for it in some ways. Also supported is Online Training Mode with
2-players, and the addition of cross-play between PS4 & PS3 players is a cool feature. In general, online matches are playable... but something
about the netcode seems prone to stuttering and interruptions. In addition to standard Ranked & Player Matches, players can use their
"powered-up" versions of characters from the single-player, RPG-style Medal
of Millionaire (M.O.M.) mode in non-ranked player matches (if the room
|| Arc System Works
|| Arc System Works
Director / Writer
Ishiwatari, Hidehiko Sakamura
PS4, PS3, PC
Dec. 4th, 2014
PS4 / PS3
Dec. 16th, 2014
PS4 / PS3
June. 3rd, 2015
Dec. 9th, 2015
Badguy, Ky Kiske, Millia
Rage, Chipp Zanuff,
Low, I-No, Faust,
Bedman, Ramlethal Valentine,
Sin Kiske, Elphelt, Leo Whitefang
|| Guilty Gear Xrd
REV 2, Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, Guilty
Gear -STRIVE-, 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, BlazBlue: Calamity
Trigger, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend,
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Ultra
Street Fighter 4, KOF XIII, Injustice:
Gods Among Us, Tatsunoko VS Capcom,
No Ken, Sengoku Basara X
, Battle Fantasia, Xuan Dou Zhi Wang, Legend
of Raven, Chaos Code
8.5 / 10
9.0 / 10
9.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
/ Sound Effects
9.0 / 10
9.5 / 10
9.5 / 10
9.0 / 10
Options / Extras
8.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation
8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun
8.0 / 10
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
Review based on PS4 version
There's "raising the
bar"... and then there's redefining what we know as a "2D" fighting
game. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- delivers on so many levels, yet is destined
to remain under-appreciated by Western mainstream gamers. The series just doesn't have
the name recognition of the Mortal Kombats or Street Fighters, but
those who dive in are in for eye candy and layers upon layers of fighting
mechanics. GGXrd makes it pretty easy for
old school fans to fall in
love with the series all over again, and gives new players more than enough
reason to try out this beautiful 2D fighting game.
Since their arrival to the fighting game scene, Arc System Works has been known for "pushing the envelope" of 2D fighters
and creating some of the most "artistic" fighting games ever made, and
it's apparent that they haven't lost their fire... because GGXrd is definitely one of the most artistically-driven fighting games of this
To fully enjoy GGXrd, you'll need the following items: PS4, 1080p TV, eyes,
ears (with good taste), some basic
fighting game skill... and (possibly most importantly) an open mind. If you have all of the above, it would
be difficult not to enjoy GGXrd.
While the gameplay might "look" very similar to previous iterations at
a glance, GGXrd
offers an in-game presentation never seen before in a fighting
game... and it plays like a gem once you learn the ropes. The 2D/3D graphics engine is pure
brilliance, and actually enhances the gameplay experience. Future fighting games
even decades from now probably won't look quite like Xrd does.
While grasping Xrd's gameplay depth and feeling comfortable with a
character or two could take weeks (or longer)... you also don't need to be a frame-counting combo-expert to
"enjoy" this game.
Actually, I'd say it's one of the most easily-enjoyable fighting games without having to be an
expert at it. For the mainstream audience, GGXrd is probably still
too complex for its own good, but dedicated players and combo-creators will
love every bit of it.
Whether or not GGXrd ends up being a fighting game tournament headliner... Guilty
Gear is back, and is going places.
It's a safe bet that there will be sequels, especially since a large part of the
former roster is still missing. Honestly, a few of Arc System Works' decisions
(regarding DLC / releasing sequels) have put me off in the recent past... but
I'm hoping they won't "milk" Xrd to hell... like they did with
the XX series.
I want to see new characters in this game as much as the next guy, but I hope Aksys addresses this
issue in proper SEQUELS. (And please don't kill us with DLC... guys).
I'd say GGXrd is the first "must play" fighting game on PS4... and indeed,
it must be
played on PS4 to be fully appreciated. 1080p visuals with hardly ever a drop
from 60 fps? It's beautiful stuff. The PS4 controller's light bar even
goes crazy before a match begins (during the trademark 'Heaven or Hell'
sequence) and also when you complete a challenge in Challenge
Mode. (Hey, it's nice to see developers caring about small aesthetic details like
Guilty Gear Xrd makes just as big a statement on PS4 as the
original GGX made
on the PS2 & Dreamcast back in the day. Also, it would be hard to argue that this isn't the
best Guilty Gear ever made... well-deserving of that
(which has the potential to go higher).
And all this praise, coming from a fighting game player who usually prefers "stand up"
(non air-dash-crazy) fighting games. Much respect to Arc System
Works... Keep on Rockin'.
~TFG webmaster |