Thursday, May 25, 2017

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Review (PlayStation 4)

Written By: Bernard Julius Paje


Title: BlazBlue: Central Fiction
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works (JP) / Aksys Games (NA) / PQube (EU)
Genre: Fighting, Visual Novel
Also Available On: PS3, Steam



BlazBlue: Central Fiction is the fourth main game in the BlazBlue series (seventh if you count the enhanced/Extend versions). The game is packed with a lot of modes, including fighting game staples like Story, Arcade and Versus Mode as well as some unconventional ones like Grim of Abyss and Speed Star Mode. The fighting gameplay itself is very deep, as each character has a lot of unique moves and combos at their disposal. Technical and Stylish fighting styles are available for use in almost all modes. The former is for fighting game purists who like to input all the commands for special moves and combos manually, while the latter is for more casual fighting game players who wish to execute moves at the press of a single button. Please note that personally, my skill level is somewhere in between the two player categories I described above.



GRAPHICS

The 2D sprite work in this game is top notch. Arc System Works is been known to be experts at the 2D fighting genre so it makes sense that their 2D artwork is keeping on improving from game to game. There are times when some of the character sprites and stills (in Story Mode) have blocky edges, but this is an acceptable limitation when dealing with 2D images. The backgrounds for the stages are all 3D, however, and are mostly a marvel to look at. The stage backgrounds like buildings and mechanisms feel so ominous and have great animations. There are also no slowdowns when things get busy on-screen, and everything runs at a steady framerate.



MUSIC

Music in the game encompasses a broad wealth of musical genres. A personal favorite of mine is the theme of Hibiki Kohaku. It starts out with some sick drum and guitar riffs followed by a jazzy piano and bass combination which then culminates to the main guitar solo. On the same track, the same jazzy piano theme is then played using string synthesizers, leading to a lively harmony of all the above instruments. Other honorable mentions include the upbeat and futuristic theme of Es as well as the melancholic final credits song. Most of the other tracks are heavy on electric guitars and sadly, none of them will resonate to you as much as the tracks I mentioned before.



GAMEPLAY

Story Mode picks up exactly where the last game ended. If you are new to the BlazBlue universe, there is an option to recap all of the important events of previous games. The dialog portions of the game play very much like a very linear visual novel, offering no option for the player to change the flow of the story to his or her liking. As you go through Story Mode, optional side scenarios will pop up that are designed to flesh out the story’s main events. This mode is VERY chatty, and if you decide to review the events of the past games it will take you more than an hour to get to your first battle. Everything is voiced but you still need to read everything because the game is only dubbed in Japanese (unless you understand the language). Sadly, Aksys Games, the game’s US publisher, decided not to have an English dub for this game because of the extra development time it would add up to. It will take you around 10 hours to finish Story Mode (faster if you opt to skip the dialog) and by the end it feels like you watched a 24 or 26 episode anime series. Finishing Story Mode will also unlock an extra character, harkening back to the older games of yore when DLC was literally non-existent and we can unlock game content for free.

Arcade Mode is more or less also like a mini Story Mode, as important story bits of your chosen character will be featured in the dialog before and after certain matches. There are also three Acts each for most characters in this mode (as of this writing), allowing you to fight more than 20 opponents throughout the main overall plot of Story Mode.

Challenge Mode, a now-staple fighting game mode first introduced in the PS1 days, also makes an appearance in this game. This mode has you doing a series of normal and special moves in succession for each of the characters. Each character has 10 missions, and completing all of them will take a lot of skill to pull off. The timing for each move has to be done just right, and since only the Technical play style is available for use in this mode, casual players may be intimidated by the difficulty of some of the challenges.

The other unique modes – Grim of Abyss, Score Attack and Speed Star – are more or less spins on traditional fighting game modes like Survival and Time Attack. These modes may be a little bit more difficult to beat for casual players because mastery of your chosen character’s moves will be required to make steady progress. Network (Online) Mode is also present as well, but casual fighting game players may find the fast and technical gameplay overwhelming (especially if pitted against an experienced player).

As you play the various modes, you also get spendable currency in-game that will allow you buy items to decorate your room and customize some aspects of your D-Code (BlazBlue’s fancy term for your online player card). You can also purchase art, backgrounds, music and voices with the in-game currency. There is also a text-heavy Glossary that details every aspect of the game, like characters, locations, items and moves, as well as the stories and events of previous games.



VERDICT

Overall, this game has a LOT of content and offers a great bang for your buck. If you are a fighting game enthusiast there will be a lot for you to do in this game, even if you opt to ignore the optional collecting aspects of it. And with more than 30 characters to choose from and master, it will take a fighting aficionado hours of gameplay to master everything. The game is also fun if you have friends come over for local couch multiplayer, which is always better than online multiplayer in my opinion. The heavy anime influence and presentation of the Story Mode will definitely appeal to those who adore the media, while those who are only interested in the fighting aspects of the game can easily ignore it but still enjoy the game as much. If you like to play fighting games, this game is highly recommended.



PROS
  • Has a lot of content
  • Lengthy Story Mode
  • Tutorials are very detailed
  • Features Stylish (easy) Mode for casual players

CONS
  • Lots of dialog and 
  • Spoken voices are Japanese-only
  • Music is mostly forgettable
  • Casual players will be overwhelmed by experienced players in Network Mode


RATING: 8/10