Thanks to a little bit of ownership drama between Sega and Arc System Works, we haven’t seen the rather unique Guilty Gear franchise in a while. (That’s why we have BlazBlue, as series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari needed something to do while that all sorted itself out.) Since then, quite a bit has happened in the fighting genre. Street Fighter IV has caused the community to grow in ways we haven’t seen since the genre’s infancy in the early 1990s. Along with SFIV has come a new philosophy about developing fighting games as a whole: simplicity above all, absolutely sweat the frame-by-frame details, and let the players’ skills build around that.
You might not think that first part would jive too well with Guilty Gear, with its three types of gauges and crazy terminology like “Roman Cancel”, “Faultless Defense Cancel”, and “Negative Penalty”. However, Ishiwatari assures us he is completely on board with the notion of fighting games taking a single step back in order to make massive strides forward, and Guilty Gear Xrd’s system will reflect that.
When fighting games transition to new hardware, and require developers to reproduce character assets from scratch, you generally get a smaller character roster from the previous installments. That is the case here, paring the roster down to 14 characters – two of which, Ramlethal and Bedman, are newcomers – from Accent Core’s 23. This is unfortunate for fans of offbeat characters like the multi-possessed Zappa or obstacle-laying Testament, but fighting games always have a tendency to grow over time, so it would actually be surprising if they never show up.
The other thing that must be pointed out is that Guilty Gear Xrd is absolutely gorgeous. The game looks like it uses some really high-quality hand-drawn animation at first glance (and certainly nobody would put that past Ishiwatari), but then it shows its true face as a 3D game that uses meticulous cel-shading and careful animation to pull off an extremely convincing imitation of 2D. This allows for things like super moves, launchers, and single-hit kill “destruction” attacks to look as epic and spectacular as they should, while not detracting in the slightest from Guilty Gear’s long-time signature visual style.
Watch for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- to hit store shelves for your PS3 and PS4 this fall.