Guilty Gear X2 review


Understand where I'm coming from before reading this review. I'm a virgin fighter. In all my years of gaming, fighting games have always been at the bottom of my list (just above sports titles). The biggest reason - I'm a lousy player. Not so much from a lack of coordination as a lack of patience. I find myself drawn to the occasional fighter because of interesting character design and aesthetic flash, often after watching other skilled players pull off special attacks and combos with ease. So, drawn by their prowess, I'll buy a game and struggle to learn one character's move list only to get trounced by aggressive AI. And I'm not easily frustrated, but more than one fighter has brought me to the brink.

Over the years I've come to appreciate and even enjoy a handful of quality fighting games, particularly SNK titles - of note, the second in both the Samurai Showdown and Last Blade series, as well as Capcom's Vampire Savior. So, once again, after reading a handful of positive reviews and intrigued by the roster of unusual characters, I decided to pick up Guilty Gear X2. Unfamiliar with the previous titles in the series, I didn't know what to expect. Certainly not this - that Guilty Gear X2 would instill in me a fanatical devotion and crazed determination to master the intricacies of this wonderful game.

Technically, Guilty Gear X2 is a beautiful game to watch. Wild effects, spectacular animations, and great (but not distracting) backgrounds. The sound is fun - crazy character effects and trashy hard rock that suits the game. But what really stands out is the wacky creative design of these characters. From their names (Sol Badguy, Testament, Zappa and Jam, to name a few) to their weapons, stances, costumes, special attacks, one hit kills... I've never seen such an amazing cast of characters nor have I ever felt the desire to play with and study each character in a fighting game before this. And fortunately, gameplay was not sacrificed in favor of outrageous design.

A discussion of Guilty Gear X2's gameplay might suffer at my hand since there's so much to say, and I'm not the expert to provide one with details. Although I will certainly make a few comments. In some ways Guilty Gear X2 follows the traditional standard set by previous like-minded fighting games. Button combinations and joypad motions will unquestionably be familiar to anyone who has played an SNK or Capcom fighter, but there are definite twists. Attacks can be chained in ways I've never seen before, and combos have a unique approach in their flexibility. Defense takes advantage of the frighteningly well balanced tension gauge, a meter that fills and is depleted dependent on a players actions - standard in determining when overdrives may be released, unique in it's use to defend and counter. Further, dusting presents itself as both a defensive and offensive mechanism to provide momentary invincibility, non-recoverable knock downs, and more. The list goes on.

And to keep solo players active for a long time to come, there's the Arcade, Story, Mission, Medal of Millionaires, Survival and Versus modes, complete with unlockables. The two player action is also, obviously, wildly entertaining. This may be the only fighting game I will ever need. In some ways Guilty Gear X2 is my first fighter in that it's the first that begs me to practice and master everything it has to offer. And seeing as it's taken this long for one to come along, it could be quite a while before another finds its way into my heart and bury itself as deeply as Guilty Gear X2 has.

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