Thursday, December 1, 2011

1,000th Post: BlazBlue Continuum Shift II Review

Yep, this blog is 1,000 posts old, but there's fighting to be done, so on with the show!

A small confession, I'm not a great fighting game disciple. I do love a blast of immediate and OTT action from Tekken or Mortal Kombat over the subtleties of Street Fighter. In short bursts, I'm more of a button masher than a stylish blocker and, while the BlazBlue series has eluded me until now, it seems to have the necessary moves to grab me by the throat.

I love any game that throws a sense of fun at your head along with big hammers, robot-enhanced fighters, arachnids and other lunacy (Rival Schools was probably my all-time favourite). The good news is BlazBlue delivers on the frenetic action, over-the-top characters and huge amounts of content in its own bonkers style. The main menu packs in 13 options, 11 of which are game-related. First up is the training mode which helps overcome some of my button-mashing tendencies, although it would have been better if they'd remapped the A,B,C,D buttons to the PSP's in the text.

Kicking things off properly in arcade mode, we're introduced to a wide choice of characters including all the DLC peeps from the original game, making this something of a bargain. Each has their own loopy tale to tell which is expounded on between bouts, with some gratuitous boob-related humour, but its the fighting that's the heart of the game.



While the bigger, slower characters feel clumsy and frustrating, the lithe and nimble ones make the game a delight to get into. I'd recommended you start off with the likes of Taokaka or Noel Vermillion, and really get into the spirit of things before taking control of the heavyweights like the clunking Lambda 11.

Fighting is intense fun, with blissfully-designed level backdrops to strut your stuff in. Using beautifully animated leaps and charges to get across the wide levels, you can pummel, block and charge up your heat meter to unleash tricky special moves. Most moves have a neat visual effect and the more hits you string together, the busier things seem to get, but the pace never lets up.

All of this is backed up by an awesome wall of sound (this is the first PSP game that I've played through my new Turtle Beach XF1 with DSS headphones), kicks and taunts are driven by a corking soundtrack, while the story narration and background music are truly soulful.

You want to play in Story Mode if your want to get the deeper background of magic, mist and heroes - and if you like about five minutes between each fight. Other modes including Legion where you get to build up and army, and Abyss where you can level up your character's abilities from a shop add to the fun, in fact I don't think I've seen so many options in any fighter, portable or otherwise. Multiplayer is limited to Ad Hoc, a great shame - hopefully something the Vita EXTEND edition will fix.

Whether you want a quick fighting fix, or to dive into the deeper game modes, the latest BlazBlue feels perfectly balanced to welcome fun as well as hardcore gamers. It throws enough features and design effects in to keep you having "wow!" moments for many continuum loops to come.

More reviews here
Available on PSN/UMD
Publisher, pQube
Developer, Arc System Works
8.5/10, Brilliantly bonkers fighting action

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