Arc System Works’ have a fighter pedigree which can’t be contested by anyone but the likes of Capcom. Their fighting games almost all universally appeal to more casual players, and hardcore fighters alike, with titles such as their recent Dragon Ball Extreme Butoden and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax being easy to pick up and start thrashing out combos – but by far their most technical and rewarding series is Guilty Gear. Taking the classic Capcom style of quarter-circle obsessed fighters are turning the methodical footsie gameplay into something hyperactive and intensive, Guilty Gear bridges the gap between simple, flashy combos and a deep battle system. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is another stellar entry into the franchise, but casual players might not agree that it’s an essential purchase.
Retro rock riffs and unashamedly cheesy ballads permeate every inch on Guilty Gear, with the metal-influenced characters and soundtrack making an unusually fitting backing track to the explosive and colorful animation that happens on screen. The rock influence is everywhere, from characters that literally use guitars and waveforms as weaponry, or a bandanna-brandishing character named Axl who most definitely isn’t a “homage” (or complete rip off) of a certain Guns & Roses vocalist.
But by far the most striking aspect of Guilty Gear is the incredible art style. Full 3D character models are rendered in a 60FPS environment, but given an initially odd filter to keep character animations moving at a considerably slower frame rate. The decision to do this is intentional, of course; unlike excuses of a “Cinematic Experience”, Guilty Gear’s characters move at a frame rate that is more in keeping with that of traditional animation and anime in particular. The art style and characters, heavily influenced by anime styles, carries with it the weight of a real animation in motion. The stages, as I said, always stick at a locked 60FPS, meaning camera movement and movement of the models on screen always stays smooth and fluid. The result is really quite incredible, and makes their flowing, beautiful 3D models look like even more incredible and detailed sprite work. Guilty Gear is the only game to have infused the anime style in a way which feels both meaningful and improves the overall visual quality of the game.
Of course, when it comes to visuals this is nothing new for the series. Guilty Gear Xrd Sign proved that this was a beautiful art style back when that released, and there’s no surprises that it remains beautiful. Revelator’s additions and merely incremental and iterative, like the “Super” and “Ultra” additions to Capcom’s flagship fighter. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator has more characters, some not seen in the franchise before, and a huge story mode which carries on the Guilty Gear tradition of having what amounts to a full anime season. That is played out with at times janky, but mostly incredibly well polished in-engine character animation. But other than more characters and more of that story mode, what’s here for players to make them choose Revelator over Sign, or another fighter entirely?
And that’s what is tough to nail down. The target audience for Revelator is clearly Guilty Gear fans and hardcore fighting game players – not the more casual crowd. The casual crowd will enjoy the Arcade and Story modes, but unless the new characters are essentials, an older Guilty Gear will suffice, and the Story will make little sense without the context of previous games.
Which is why I must conclude that Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is clearly a title for the established audience – those who have been playing Xrd Sign since release and will play Revelator until the next. Just another small hint that Revelator’s audience isn’t exactly growing right now are the in-game voices – they’re all Japanese now. Not a major change, and not one I will mourn, but Sign gave players the choice between JP and EN voice overs – the fact that Revelator lacks this clearly implies that the cost and hassle involved with full voiced localization doesn’t make sense for this admittedly niche series. Not a major loss by any means, but definitely an odd choice given that it steps outsides of the guidelines of previously localized titles.
And so in summation, should you buy Revelator? If you’re a fighting game fan interested in the series, then hop on in. The varied cast and gorgeous visuals, mixed with familiar Capcom-esque gameplay systems, will please any arcade stick wielding world warrior, while the more casual players interested in beautiful visuals and fast paced frenetic gameplay might be better off sticking with an older title, at least at first.
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is everything the fans wanted, and everything new players didn’t know they needed. An essential part of any fighting game collection, but likely an afterthought to less dedicated players. Definitely worth enjoying, and has a plethora of modes when compared to the apparently malnourished Street Fighter V. A worthy follow up to Sign, and sure to be stuck in the PlayStation disc tray of many fighting fans.