Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is an arcade fighter developed and published by Arc System Works on PC, the same developers responsible for the similar Blazblue series and the spin-off Persona game, Persona 4 Arena, and is a port of the arcade game of the same name published by Sega.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-: PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works
Release Date: 10 December 2015
Price: £22:99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
The PC port of Guilty Gear Xrd is largely executed in a way that’s satisfactory. I had no issues installing, booting up, or running the game. Taking a look in the games system settings does however, show a rather minimal array of options. The games graphics are controlled by a single slider, only having two settings: “Quality Priority” or “Processing Priority”. There are few differences between these two options, mostly turning off anti-aliasing and a bit of bloom lighting. Other options include a few calibration test screens, Vsync as well as a few resolution options, an FPS counter, and two HUD position sliders. The screen resolution option is highly limited, only possessing 5 presets and a “Full Screen” option, which sets the game to whatever your desktop resolution happens to be. For a fighting game however, limited options are no surprise. They’re traditionally easy to run and don’t require much power to do so, but more definite resolution options may have been nice.
I really should mention the visuals at this point. Arc System Works are known for some very pretty 2-D sprite work and backgrounds in their games, so it was surprising to hear that this game would be using a 3-D engine instead, the Unreal 3 engine to be specific. However, at first glance, you honestly would not be able to tell. The game uses this very gorgeous looking art style that makes every character look like a highly detailed 2-D sprite, but in reality, they are actually 3-D models. Everything from the game’s characters to it’s lively backgrounds is created using full models rather than just traditional 2-D artwork, and it really does look gorgeous. Admittedly, the visuals do seem to lose a little bit of their flair and charm when they aren’t just intricate sprites, as they are in Arc’s other game series, BlazBlue. In motion, it becomes a little more obvious that everything is a 3-D model. That isn’t to say Guilty Gear Xrd’s visuals are bad by any means. It’s actually some of the best use of cell-shaded style graphics I’ve seen since Okami.
It would be a disservice to not point attention to the game’s soundtrack, mixing an exciting combination of metal guitar riffs and orchestral arrangements. The entire series has some amazing tracks, and each was made for every specific character. Each character’s theme is unique and surprisingly fits their personality and fighting style perfectly, with larger characters that fight with mostly muscle having heavier music, with faster and lighter characters usually having a theme that’s fast paced and lively. I can’t think of a single track I didn’t at least enjoy, and most of them I loved.
Speaking of the characters, they really are a mixed bag of typical anime tropes but also some stylish and unique designs. You really can’t get more of a purposefully generic name than “Sol Badguy”, a character invoking the typical “all encompassing badass” trope. While most characters have been traditionally carried over from previous games, there are usually two or so brand new characters introduced in each game entry, such as Elphelt (though this time she is only playable as a DLC character). While some of the characters personalities will seem a little dull, others are actually enjoyable to witness. Personally, I’d say only about half of them are particularly interesting while the other half are there just to fill a slot in the character roster. Even in the game’s story, no single person seems to get a lot of devoted screen time that satisfyingly builds their backstory, but we will talk more about story in just a bit.
Each fighter’s combat style is also just as personalized as their design. The game’s combat as a whole is rather similar, but each player can have their own style. For example, Potemkin, a rather large character, uses lots of big and powerful attacks that do a lot of damage but are typically slower while another character named Chipp uses much faster, almost spammy attacks to get the job done.
But when I say the combat is rather similar, I mean that most of the button commands are almost exact copies in some instances. Much of the game’s special attacks use some combination of quarter or half circles, followed by a couple button presses. There are some more complicated combos for a few characters, but they are reserved for the most flashy and powerful attacks. There are few specific differences in commands, such as some requiring you to hold buttons while doing combos, but otherwise, you’ll find many similarities. Despite this, however, each attack still feels different and carries different weight. It also seems to make the game a bit more accessible, since combo attacks are short and easy to remember. The idea is to string together attacks appropriately, and it can be quite the spectacle to see someone pull it off successfully with many attacks in a row.
There are several game modes in Guilty Gear Xrd, such as your typical training, arcade, challenge modes, story mode and online. Training and tutorials for the most part, do a great job at explaining the basics, and then letting you experiment. Arcade provides a combination of story and combat with each individual character. Online received a mixed reaction from me. I won’t claim to be great at fighting games, in fact, I’m mostly terrible. The few matches I did find online, admittedly, resulted in getting my butt kicked. However, even after setting every search parameter to “Any”, I found very few matches, and most had poor connections. I don’t know if the player base just isn’t strong on PC, or if I just happened to pick the worst times to find online players.
“Story” mode threw me off a bit. It’s literally just the game’s story. You sit back, hit play, and just watch everything unfold. No combat segments, little interaction, you’re essentially watching an anime at this stage. The game recommends playing “Arcade” mode first to get the story leading up to a certain point and then continuing from the actual “Story” mode. It’s very odd since most fighting games with a mode like this tell you a bit of narrative which is then is broken up with a combat segment against a specific character. This is a sequel in terms of story, so at this point you either know you like the series story or you don’t. Personally, while it’s interesting, I can’t say I’ve been hooked on it though I don’t typically play fighting games for their writing.
In conclusion, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a well-crafted fighter, with some great presentation overall, even if it’s story mode was lacking. It’s certainly a game that both welcomes new players, and rewards dedicated ones.