Guilty Gear Strive review: Heavy Metal in the Arc System Works style

In this Guilty Gear Strive review we are going to discuss about all the game features that we have tested. Without detours or flourishes: Guilty Gear Strive is the best installment of the entire series. As explosive in his ways as he is successful in his changes. A brave and comprehensive evolution of that Guilty Gear with which Arc System Works blew our minds more than two decades ago, dazzling through its new strengths until each game, each round and each well-executed combo is pure rock ‘n. ‘roll.

Because every Guilty Gear Strive match is a show. A magnificent audiovisual feast that serves as a pretext for the swords of Sol Badguy and Ky Kiske to cross again between sparks, explosions and flares to the sound of a brutal Soundtrack. A gift for those who are passionate about fighting games and, at the same time, the best gateway to the saga itself.

In other words, while the excellence of the Guilty Gear series is beyond question, so far its very demanding learning curve has been its own Achilles heel. Casual gamers have been practically helpless in the medium and high difficulty levels when playing offline and had hardly any options online. As a result, the Arc System Works saga has been considered more or less niche among fighting games. Up to now.

Thus, in Guilty Gear, it is not enough to do super and Overdrives or smash buttons and levers like crazy: to get the most out of the game you have to take advantage of Roman Cancels, look for the perfect locks and master mobility on land and in the air. In Guilty Gear Strive that has not changed, it would be missing more, but now the casual player is not penalized so much, and that opens very interesting doors.

As a result, we have a game that knows how to masterfully move between everything that makes the Guilty Gear saga unique and the common areas of 2D fighting games like Street Fighter or The King of Fighters. Featuring highly detailed and characterful characters, scenarios that burst with life, and solid, flexible gameplay with plenty of room for creativity. And it is that Guilty Gear Strive achieves excellence in each and every one of its aspects.

Which brings us to the question of rigor: How likely is Guilty Gear Strive to match or exceed the success of games like Street Fighter V, Dragon Ball FighterZ or Tekken 7 on its own turf? The truth is that Arc System Works has laid a very solid foundation to measure itself on equal terms with the best exponents of fighting on consoles and PCs and, in the process, become the first great fighting game of the decade.

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System Works style

Guilty Gear Strive review
Guilty Gear Strive

Arc System Works made it clear from its powerful cover letter : the goal of Guilty Gear Strive has always been to offer a new chapter in its star saga with the ability to appeal to both fighting game fans and anyone else. be captivated by the spectacle that is manifested on screen. A double challenge that those of Yokohama have passed with flying colors.

After numerous expansions of Guilty Gear Xrd, the fighting saga begins a new era in which the changes are not only displayed on screen through characters and animations elaborated with an almost handmade dexterity and care; rather, it is palpable at the controls : the blows gain much more force and the combos chains are somewhat shorter. And that, in the long run, ends up being a success.

It is not that Guilty Gear Strive has acclimated to the gameplay sensations of Street Fighter, or rather DarkStalkers, but rather that Arc System Works has rebalanced specific values ​​such as the damage dealt, the weight of certain fighters or the ability to connect certain attacks, so that the fights end up gaining more excitement without sacrificing that spectacle of lights and explosions that ends up filling the screen.

Guilty Gear Strive
Guilty Gear Strive

Starting from that premise, the veterans of the saga and the most hardened will continue to have the same resources that will give them that advantage that sets them apart from the rest: through a very tight zoom system, the Roman Cancels not only retain their brutal possibilities, rather they gain a spectacular presence. And the same applies to all the medium and advanced level mechanics of the game.

In this aspect, but Arc System Works ruled flatly incorporate a system autocombos as seen in Dragon Ball FighterZ or Granblue Fantasy Vs., bet very strong by giving you support and resources to the player who wants to delve into the game based tutorials, practice systems and even missions with which we will not only dominate our character, but will also reveal the weaknesses of each adversary.

Of course, the artistic section is as careful as the playable one: the Unreal Engine once again makes a difference through characters as enormous as they are detailed, amazing facial expressions and animations and gestures, both in attack and in rest, that extend the presence and personality of each fighter.

And beware, as you will see just below, Guilty Gear Strive looks practically equally good on PS5 and PS4.

Guilty Gear Strive on PS5
Guilty Gear Strive on PS5

It is not that there are no differences between the versions of the game for current and new generation systems: there is a resolution jump that is noticeable on screen and manifests itself in the finest details and close-ups. In addition, the ultra-fast load times mean that the loads at the time of starting the game on PS5 are reduced to two or three seconds. Literally.

Guilty Gear Strive on PS4
Guilty Gear Strive on PS4

All in all, Guilty Gear Strive faces the problem – and challenge – of every new main installment of any fighting game: reducing the number of characters from the most complete or expanded edition to an initial panel of selectable that will grow based on DLCs.. And that, inevitably, implies both high-profile absences and additions that must be on the same level as the usual favorites.

In this regard, the selection of exit fighters for Guilty Gear Strive has been set at 15 characters, two of which have been created for the occasion:

  • Nagoriyuki is a samurai with a dark complexion and vampiric abilities. His style of play is tactical, with accurate shots that benefit from the reach of his enormous screen size. In addition, he is able to absorb blood through the edge of his sword.
  • Giovanna is a special forces agent who fights accompanied by the spirit of a wolf. Her combat style is based entirely on melee, being especially dangerous at short distances.

If we do the math, we will see that of the 25 characters characters of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (released in 2017) approximately half return. There are absences that do not go unnoticed, of course, such as Baiken, Jam Kuradoberi or Johnny, but the contrast of techniques works totally in favor of a selection of fighters as resounding as they are interesting.

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System
Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System

That said, the Deluxe version of Guilty Gear Strive includes the first Season Pass as a great incentive, which will add five extra characters – with at least one new face – two additional scenarios and a new plot for the epic story mode. A way that, by the way, in this installment is approached in an unconventional way.

A new chapter for the Guilty Gear saga, but not a blank page

The Guilty Gear saga is not only characterized by its superb gameplay or the care given to the exquisite visuals and its powerful soundtrack: each installment has a very dense plot background, and Guilty Gear Strive is no exception.

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System
Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System

The future that Arc System Works paints us is not exactly optimistic: a technological crisis and the discovery of a source of pure energy that will become known as magic will put humanity itself in check. In the midst of that chaos a new class of artificial beings will emerge: the Gears.

At the end of the XXIII century, the capricious time traveler I-No has released a mysterious being that lay hidden in one of the most guarded fortresses of the kingdom of Illyria (which today is largely Europe and a large part of Asia). Faced with this, the three kings of Illyria decide to intervene, and   Ky Kiske, the first of the kings, knows exactly who to delegate this complicated mission to.

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System
Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System

Sol Badguy, an immortal bounty hunter who makes a living catching low-key thugs, will once again find himself involved in a spiral of events in which he must put his brute strength to the test and, already put, his new toy: the Outrage MK II. Meanwhile, new interests and factions of pirates, ninja clans, and powerful nations begin to make their mark in the face of a major event on a global scale.

Unlike previous installments and almost all fighting games, Guilty Gear Strive’s story mode is completely cinematic. That is, events are not interspersed with battles that we must solve as in Mortal Kombat 11 or Tekken 7. And although this seems quite strange, it ends up being a success.

Arc System Works has shaped a complete story that we can see in an episodic or jerk format using the same engine as the game itself. And the result convinces: not only does he gain muscle with the brutal finishes of the characters, but also avoids taking the player out of the story with fights that arise from minor excuses or absurd coincidences. Focusing entirely on telling a dense plot that gives shape and presence to the game’s manganime tone.

And that does not end the thing: as we mentioned, Guilty Gear Strive is designed to welcome all players, which has included a spectacular glossary, a bible of events and all kinds of diagrams both in the game and when pausing the game. history so that we delve to the maximum in the experience. A brutal compilation and information work that, by the way, will delight fans of the saga.

In addition to the story mode itself, among the offline options of Guilty Gear Strive we find the classic Arcade mode – this time, without traditional endings for each fighter, although with dialogues between characters at the beginning and end of each route – as well as a wide variety of modes. To train.

The negative part is that, beyond the Dojo, along the way those combo challenges are lost that were so much game when starting to dominate each hero. Although, as we will see, it will be enough to pause the game and go to the movement lists, to see that, beyond indicating the sequences of each blow and special attacks, we will be given invaluable advice conveniently accompanied by their respective videos. A luxury.

But, of course, the true epicenter of the experience ends up manifesting itself in online gaming. To be fair, in network battles is where the new Guilty Gear shines the most and even ahead of most powerful fighting games. And the most curious thing is that, in the process, he also stumbles on a most absurd stone.

Impeccable online battles, game rooms difficult to understand

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System
Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System

One made of lime and another made of sand: Guilty Gear Strive is fully committed to the rollback netcode system, and that -as we will see- makes online games a real delight. The not-so-good news is that the game rooms in this installment invite you to search for your opponent online directly from the start menus. At least you can.

As we saw in the three betas held, Arc System Works leaves its highly recognizable system of big-headed characters parked in 30 fully open rooms to make way for pixelated characters that move in a kind of large 2D multi-story apartments. So far, everything normal.

The problem with the Guilty Gear Strive room system  arises from how unnecessarily complicated it is to organize or start a fight with another player, so that we will have to wield our weapon and position ourselves in front of him or challenge him by going around. And the thing does not end there: there are different rooms by ranks and also numerous regions.

To be fair, there are customizable shortcuts that allow us to position ourselves near other players or see who is in the room and where to find them, but in the current version of the game organizing a game or improvising it with a stranger is a process that should have been done else.

On the positive side, we have that once engaged in online combat Guilty Gear Strive is a delight: the predictive rollback netcode system is called to be the new standard in fighting games, anticipating what we are going to do to cushion any possible lag. The result: games as fluid as if they were played on the same console and on two controllers.

In fact, throughout online battles it is even possible to see above our life bars the milliseconds of the game margin and the number of rollback frames. During the days when I was able to play Guilty Gear Strive online it never exceeded 1ms.

Definitely, the experience of online battles in Guilty Gear Strive are one of its greatest assets and strengthen more and better the creation of a community that is captivated by the game experience and remains by the competitive nuance.

Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System
Guilty Gear Strive: Heavy Metal Arc System

It will be time to get used to the Guilty Gear Strive room system, although we are also given the option of starting a quick match from the main menu or looking for a rival while we train. And, in this regard, both options are much more recommended than walking around with our pixelated doll.

Our Opinion

Guilty Gear Strive is not only the zenith of the saga: it is the best fighting game made by Arc System Works, and those are big words. The return of Sol y company achieves excellence in each and every one of its sections, with a special emphasis on the playable, and your online experience is not only a delight: it sets a new chair for the games to come.

In many aspects, Guilty Gear Strive breaks with the evolutionary line of the saga in a matter of chains of combos or the way to connect loose hits with medium and strong; but Arc System Works manages to balance everything thanks to the balance and changes of the characters introduced and to more intense gameplay sensations, more visually spectacular and, above all, more competitive.

There are decisions that initially collide and are understood very well afterwards. Both in terms of the pace of the game and when it comes to offering a completely cinematic story mode. However, and despite the fact that it was being seen coming from the betas, it is clear that the room system deserves to be rethought. Or, at least, make improvising games and fighting strangers simpler and easier.

That said, Guilty Gear Strive is a must buy for fans of the star Arc System Works series, despite its weaknesses. Because it is not only the beginning of a new chapter that starts in style and that will grow in the coming years: its playable excellence and its online game are what is expected and what should be required of fighting games that are coming.

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