It’s been awhile since I’ve seriously spent some time with a Guilty Gear game. I played the original, XX, The Midnight Carnival and even Isuka to death years ago but over time, haven’t kept up with the series and its multiple upgrades and iterations. Hell, I played a couple of games of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev. 2 but didn’t even finish any character’s arcade mode! With Guilty Gear -Strive-, I’m getting in the groove again.
Having had a couple of days just fooling around with the game…is Guilty Gear -Strive- a good Guilty Gear game?
Continue on to find out if it is.
What is Guilty Gear -Strive-?
Guilty Gear -Strive- is the latest game in the Guilty Gear series. It’s a 2D fighting game but with 3D characters who are named after famous musicians. Developed by Arc System Works (the guys behind BlazBlue), Guilty Gear -Strive- is a continuation of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev.2, with a plot that takes place 3 weeks after the finale of the previous game.
Our review copy was provided by the awesome folks at Bandai Namco Asia. Thanks guys!
If you’re a Guilty Gear newbie, this is as good a point as any to jump into the franchise as the series finally starts on a new plotline. Even if you’re a babe in the woods when it comes to the game, there’s a handy dandy guide called GG World that details everything (plot, character relation, even terms) about the past games’ stories.
The GG World mode is pretty comprehensive and even newbies will understand the characters and world lore after just a bit of reading.
There are a handful of other modes in the game too.
You have your basic Arcade Mode (8 stages), along with a VS CPU and Survival mode for single players.
I’m very disappointed the coop mode that’s in the Arcade Mode isn’t available by itself.
It’s a really fun mode that has you and an A.I. partner teaming up against another A.I. who’s stronger than normal. It’s a feature that triggers in certain instances in the Arcade Mode and I really wish that there’s a standalone option for the mode.
There’s also a two player VS mode, along with a Dojo mode, where you can practice and do Missions that teach you the fundamentals of the game. These range from the easy strategies, to insanely pro-level tactics. If you’re thinking of competing in the game, this is where your journey starts.
Of course, the game also has Ranked and Casual online modes, but you’ll need to pass the Network Tutorial first before you can go online. Online, the rooms are pretty populated, though that largely depends on region. I love how the online lobbies are represented, with you (in the form of a customizable avatar) walking around the rooms and being able to challenge anybody inside with very little trouble.
I suggest playing in the Japan server as most other Asian regions are pretty devoid of life.
For me, I get around 66ms lag if connected to the Japanese servers, which is pretty tolerable. There’s no noticeable delay, which makes matches seem like they’re being played locally.
Finally, the game also has a Story mode.
This is the plot for the game, though there are ZERO battles in it. Yup, it’s completely non-interactive. You just sit and watch as the game’s plot unfurls, like a movie. You don’t have to watch it all at one go, as you’re able to save at the end of every chapter.
If you’ve ever wanted a Guilty Gear OVA, this is probably as close as you’re going to get…well, unless you count some of the intros to past games.
It’s a weird Story Mode (and the plot’s wacky too!) to be sure but it’s a great showcase for the game’s incredible visuals as you’re able to just sit back and appreciate the character models without needing to fight. The whole of Story Mode seems to be done in the game engine and I really wish it had a Photo Mode so that you can move around the scenes and take your own screenshots. Controls to fast forward and rewind would also be much appreciated.
Oh, there’s one thing about the Story Mode (and the game in general); you do NOT want to be using the English voices.
Don’t get me wrong, the voice actors are pretty decent but that’s not the issue. The problem is the lips don’t sync with the English voices, which makes for very awkward scenes (especially when close up) of audio not matching the lip movement.
That’s a small matter though…after all, who gets a fighting game and then complains about the lip synchronization right? It’s the battles that are the important part!
In that regard, Guilty Gear -Strive- is a winner.
Heaven or Hell?
Fights are brutal and lighting quick, with a rocking soundtrack behind it. Character animation is fluid and top notch too, which can sometimes make the game look like a playable anime!
On the Playstation 5, loads are about 5 seconds. That’s pretty damn quick compared to past games in the series…not to mention other modern fighters!
The damage from attacks seem to be increased too, though it might be just me. Newbies can button mash but there’s also a ton of depth in the game (refer to the Dojo to learn them) that makes mastering the game rewarding.
I love how slick and stylish the fight presentation is, with quick cutaways when the characters execute special moves to accentuate them. You can even break through the stage barriers to move to another part of the fighting arena, similar to games like Injustice and Dead or Alive.
The level transitions only seem to happen at the sides though. Perhaps in future games it’ll be expanded to the middle of the stage too!
The levels themselves are great.
The backgrounds are visually distinct, with a ton of different locations taken from the world of Guilty Gear -Strive-. Compared to other games like King of Fighters XIV or SoulCalibur VI, the backgrounds in the game are of a much higher quality and caliber.
Even the music has improved over past iterations. I’m a huge fan of the tunes from the earlier games (The Midnight Carnival, Holy Orders and Awe of She are just some of my favourite tunes) and while the songs in this one still aren’t as awesome as the old school ones, they are certainly better than those from the recent games.
Unfortunately, the character count has taken a severe hit, especially if you’re coming from Guilty Gear Xrd Rev.2.
From that game’s 23 characters, you’re now only left with 15. No doubt that Arc System Works will add new characters (or maybe even an updated version of the game) but for right now, it’s a bit light on fighters.
Fan favourites like Jam, Sin Kiske, Baiken and Slayer (my personal favourite) are missing. They’re mentioned in GG World, which makes their loss even more pronounced. I’d give anything to have my Slayer back.
I’ve not encountered any overpowered character in the roster but there are definitely some characters that are better than others. Sol Badguy and Ky Kiske for example. No doubt that Arc System Works will balance things out as time goes by and the dust settles.
One final thing…I love how the game incentives you to fight. You earn credit for every battle, which you can then use to go fishing.
Sadly, you don’t actually get to fish, it’s just the game’s way for you to spend your credits on unlockables like new character colors, music, movies and avatar items.
For somebody who quickly tires of the grind of fighting over and over, unlocking stuff is certainly a great way to keep me (and others like me) occupied for quite some time.
The Bottom Line.
At the end of the day, Guilty Gear -Strive- is a great entry in the series but its not without issues.
GG World is an awesome way for fans to catch up on the lore and the Story and Arcade modes are worthwhile diversions for the single player. Online play is pretty good too, though local servers are empty (when I played). The best thing has got to be the lightning quick loads, though Online play doesn’t load as fast.
Still, having only 15 playable characters is nowhere near enough, especially as fan favourites are missing. It’s inevitable that Arc System Works will add more characters (or even push out an updated version), which stings all the more for early adopters.
Other than that, all the issues are relatively minor.
If you can overlook them, Guilty Gear -Strive- is a great game. Just know that you’ll be spending more money as the inevitable DLC comes out.
Great visuals, audio and gameplay but lacking characters from past games. DLC is inevitably coming.
- Fun gameplay.
- Incredible visuals and animation.
- GG World!
- Fast loading.
- The music.
- Story Mode is cool, if rather unorthodox.
- No coop mode for single player.
- Loading for online matches can be quite long.
- Lip synching is bad for English audio.
- Missing a ton of characters when compared to past games.
- Inevitable DLC.