Disclosure: The author was provided with a copy of the game by the publisher for the purpose of this review
Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
Looks like I got an early Christmas present from Arc System Works today. It says “CAUTION: May melt eyeballs”. Eh, probably doesn’t mean anything. Let’s just open that up…..OH. MY. GOD.
It’s no secret that I love fighting games, with Guilty Gear being near the top of my short list for “Best Franchise”. However, my platform of choice, the PC, has been neglected by most fighting game developers since the dawn of time. We get games late, broken ports, limited controller support, and sometimes they even lack recent OS support. Good news is that this release is just late, which I’m mostly okay with, even though the follow-up named “Revelator” is closing in on us.
Let’s get to the actual PC content of this port, which is what you’re likely here for. The options menu is only slightly expanded from the console version, adding resolution, post-processing, vsync, and anti-aliasing options. There’s no 16:10 or 4:3 resolutions, which is to be expected, as the console and arcade versions were both 16:9. Would have been nice to see, but I can’t really hold it against them either, given that the genre is usually designed around a rigid set of parameters. Also, the cut-scenes can be a bit blocky. I suspect poor encoding. Check out the Options menu here if you like.
On my SLI rig (Which is where all the videos here were recorded), it’s running at a buttery-smooth 60 FPS, only dropping frames during the Vs. load screen, where it’ll drop to 40-ish for a moment, but it’s just a blip on a loading screen that is also a blip. These matches load FAST. I mean, I’m used to the PS3 and PS4 versions, where I can go and get a drink after selecting my character. My TV gaming PC (The same one I used for the Just Cause 2 review) handles it perfectly as well. Both machines ran at max settings. Controller recognition is also spot-on if you have an Xinput-compatible controller, which all of mine are. Even my dual-modded TE fightstick was picked up and mapped correctly.
Oh, right. I forgot: there’s likely a number of you that have either never played Guilty Gear Xrd, but played an older version of XX, or just saw the game on Steam today and are wondering just what in the hell it is. Guilty Gear Xrd is the latest entry in the long running Guilty Gear franchise. It’s a 2D fighting game, just like I said before. What makes Guilty Gear stand out in the field is its attention to detail, heavy metal themes (Just about every character is a reference to heavy metal in some way), and its sometimes overwhelming speed (to new players). Guilty Gear Xrd boasts a very impressive tutorial mode that will have you at a basic level of competency in just about any fighter, with some Guilty Gear-specific stuff like ‘airdashes’ and ‘roman cancels’.
So, what about the netplay? I am disappointed to report that it’s not using the same lobby system as the PS4 version with the graphical representation of rooms and all that fun stuff. It appears to be based on the PS3 version’s lobby system, which is basic, but functional. I can report that the netcode is good, with a frame delay averaging around 4 frames, which feels adequate. Despite how bad I am at just about every fighter ever, I managed to rack up a decent win streak online. I don’t think the competition scene has decided to show up yet. Newbs, this is your time to get some online play going that won’t be absolutely disheartening.
As for the non-online modes, they’re a fairly standard affair: An arcade mode which is, you guessed it, a perfect port of the arcade machine. Versus, which is, again, exactly what you expect: A one-on-one battle with either your friend or the CPU. The one you won’t expect if you’ve never played a Guilty Gear game, however, is “M.O.M” mode. No, it doesn’t call your mother, it means “Medallion Of Millionaires” (I don’t get it either). The objective is… well… exactly the same as the other modes: Beat the hell out of your opponent. However, it adds a twist in the form of equippable items and purchasable bonuses like increased attack, defence, and access to moves from another character’s move set. It’s an enjoyable mode, but the difficulty ramps up fast. We also have story mode, which isn’t what I expected. Instead of having some dialogue between fights, it’s… just dialogue. Hours upon hours of honestly really well acted dialogue. There’s some animation on-screen, but a lot of the time it’ll just be the face of whoever happens to be talking at the time.
At the end of the day, it’s a well-made port missing a couple of nice-to-haves which slightly tarnish it, and make me wonder what could have been if they had been added. I don’t know what took them this long….Arc System Works is currently running a thing where the DLC characters, colours, and announcer voices are free for the first month or so. The characters will remain free afterwards, but will need to be unlocked via in-game currency, or you can rush it for $2/character.