Release(s): June 11, 2021 (Worldwide)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Windows
Developer(s): Arc System Works
Publisher(s): Arc System Works (Worldwide), Bandai Namco Entertainment (Europe)
Guilty Gear is a franchise with a long and prestigious history among the fighting game community. However, in spite of its acclaim, it was always far behind its competition in terms of sales and player base. Things started to term around after the massive success of 2018’s Dragon Ball FighterZ and now all eyes are on ArcSystem Works. With the release of -Strive-, what do they do with their newfound recognition?
If you played the previous installments of Guilty Gear, you probably know what to expect (a complex 2D fighting game) but there are some major changes made to the mechanics. This game’s combo system gatling system doesn’t allow you to chain normal attacks freely instead allowing only for you to chain off from slash attacks making it easier for newcomers. Attacks also do more damage overall. Roman cancel is still present but some tweaks are made. A shockwave emits that temporarily slows down opponents if they are within range.
The basic controls in -Strive- is similar to that of previous installments. The face buttons allow you to punch, kick, slash, and high slash while the shoulder buttons allow you to grab, dash, and perform a dust attack which launches the opponent in the air if it lands. Special moves are the same quarter-circles and all with some new moves of course being added and balances were made.
As you would expect, all characters play uniquely having their own strengths and weaknesses like Chipp Zanuff being a speedy ninja that can overwhelm opponents with his speed and crazy ninja skills while Faust is an unorthodox character with an item gimmick that keeps opponents at bay.
As you would expect, Guilty Gear -Strive- has all the fighting game essentials. Arcade has you fight a number of cpu-controlled opponents with each being progressively harder than the last. Characters also have their own mini-storylines to go along with their courses and they may even affect gameplay like having a cpu-controlled partner by your side. Versus mode allows you to against another player or the computer.
Dojo is an incredibly robust training mode(no surprise there) as you allows you to manipulate gameplay in every way imaginable right from adjusting the behavior of the computer to keeping data on every single and their advantages. Alongside it is perhaps the most comprehensive tutorial mode in recent memory. It covers every single facet of the gameplay.
Story is not what you would expect of a fighting game. Instead of a series of fights intertwined with cutscenes telling the story, it’s a full-blown story spanning many chapters telling the conflict between man and society as conclude the long-running story of Guilty Gear. The story is pretty good (albeit convoluted) but this approach with Story Mode is ill-fitting to the game.
Now for the prime cut of the game, Network mode. Just like Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-, it comes with a unique lobby system where you can create and customize your own avatar then choose the default character for online battles. You will also hop on pads to be transferred to a specific area to find battles. Online battles also run butter smooth as Guilty Gear -Strive- makes use of the new rollback netcode method. It’s not perfect by any means but when has online gaming ever been?
Outside game modes, you can go to Collection where you can look at artwork, watch trailers and openings, and listen to the game’s soundtrack.
Just like Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-, -Strive- uses a unique 3D graphics where each frame is rendered from scratch to give it that anime aesthetics but ArcSystem made the already solid visuals even better it’s now running on a more powerful engine (this game uses Unreal Engine 4, -Revelator uses Unreal Engine 3) and it looks fantastic across all platforms. While cutscenes run at 24fps for that anime feel, gameplay runs at 60fps for optimal gameplay experience.
The visual prowess of this game especially evident during super moves and the cutscenes (which use in-game graphics) of Story as it really can pass of as a feature length movie.
Guilty Gear -Strive- gives you the option to select between both English and Japanese voices (defaulting to the latter). Both do a pretty good job. Just like previous installments, the music is a mix of rock and metal as long-time composer Daisuke Ishiwatari returns for this game. It’s very fitting given the nature of game and combat plus there some impressive guitar riffs and vocals. There are some orchestras thrown into the mix but they don’t stand out much.
Guilty Gear -Strive- has presentation in spades. Alongside the obvious anime influences, super moves are really cathartic and satisfying to pull off as they can be really over-the-top. They also have dynamic camera angles. Also, when opponents reach a certain amount of health, you can send flying across a different part of the stage.
As always, all the characters are quite unlike other fighting game characters. They have a futuristic vibe to them and their character designs are really abstract.
Guilty Gear -Strive- is the continuation of an already winning formula and with ArcSystem’s newfound fame, it’s certain the series will gain the recognition it deserves especially as -Strive-… strives to appeal more to casual gamers.
In short, this is a game for both casual and hardcore alike.