Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Comprehensive Review - BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (PS3 / PS VITA)

In the world of fighting games you'll find that not all games are created equal. You have your easy to play, and understand fighters such as that of the "Street Fighter" series, and then you have the more elaborate fighters such as "BlazBlue", and "Marvel vs Capcom" which demand so much more from the player. While BlazBlue, in general utilizes the same core practices as that of 'Street Fighter', or "King of the Fighters" including things like special button inputs to release certain attacks, and combo oriented fighting it still stands apart from the rest of the fighting game genre's offerings by making the applied mechanics more meticulous in nature.

Additions such as BlazBlue's exclusive 'OverDrive', 'Astral Heat', and 'Break Bursts' greatly alter the gameplay at hand. In doing so it demands dedicated attention from the player in order for that said player to come out victorious amongst the top tier players that make up it's faithful online community. Another huge thing that sets Arc System Works latest fighting franchise apart from the rest is the massive amount of content that comes with every game. A fully fleshed out 'Story Mode' with it's own in-depth character mythology as well as intricately laid out character specific interactions are among the many features that make the setting, and it's inhabitants all the more realistic, and relative.

In the beginning ...

In 'BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger' (The first game in the series) we, the gamers were initially introduced to the unusual cast of characters through the available offline offerings. A tale of a 'Dark War', and a fight against a monstrous 'Black Beast' set the tone for the epic battles at hand, and made them more meaningful than some mere clash of interests ever would. Details on organizations such as the NOL (Novis Orbis Librarium), and the opposing scientific faction known as 'Sector Seven' were also shared during the plot based encounters. While there was plenty of background material to catch up on regarding these two highly regarded organizations the main focus turned mostly to the individual characters whose roles gave further meaning to the interesting mixture of scientific, and magical mythology. Divided up like gangs these otherworldly characters held strong to their own personal beliefs, and fought against insurmountable odds in a world of forced order, shady dealings, and ongoing conflicts meant to bring about an end.

In the world of BlazBlue three things dictate how one lives. The pollution known as seithr which has been a constant thorn in humanity's side since the 'Dark War' is one such thing. This ethereal pollution not only negates the once high quality of living, but in a more positive way also allows the surviving districts to feed off of it's energy in order to create 'Ars Magus' weaponry known as Grimoires. Of course Ars Magus (the magic created to defeat the Black Beast) also has it's unearthly origins which originated during the 'Dark War' during a battle between the fabled 'Six Heroes', and the dreaded 'Black Beast'. With the land polluted beyond livable means, and persons of interests fighting over control of what remains it makes living one's life in the seithr saturated hierarchical cities an even more difficult situation.

You'll find that the common folk such as Taokaka, and Ragna fight for their own reasons as a result of all that has taken place. Taokaka, for example fights to feed her family, and to apprehend wanted criminals such as 'Ragna the Blood Edge' as a hired Vigilante. Ragna on the other hand is running from the organization known as "The Library" as he is the target of the many Vigilante officers they've sent after him. In essence each character carries with them a legacy, and a destiny that will in some way effect the others involved. The collective character based tales, while ever-branching still intertwine on occasion continuously weaving the mythology that makes up BlazBlue's history. This origin story continues throughout the follow-up BlazBlue titles including that of "BlazBlue: Continuum Shift", "BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II", "BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II EXTEND", and the newly added "BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma".

The here & now ...

In past BlazBlue installments we've seen the clash of interests, the creation of a new weapon at the hands of Hazama, and the unrelenting fight of "Magic vs Science". Continuing with the battle of mind over matter Kokonoe, and Sector Seven are still out to end NOL's global control in this latest story arch. With the indirect aid of Ragna, the remaining "Six Heroes" team members, and a select few other main persons of interest the story reaches it's final climax. Once secret dealings such as that of the Imperator, Hazama, Yuuki Terumi, and Relius Clover are brought into the light while new characters of interest are introduced, and a seemingly final engagement ensues as said characters either live up to their potential, or fail miserably at it.

The once trusted, and revered Hazama returns to the forefront with his plan of utter destruction in his true to life form (Yuuki Terumi). This mastermind who had infiltrated NOL, and played everyone within like a fool continues to seek the ultimate devastation with his living weapon of mass destruction know as the Murakomo unit Kusanagi (aka, Sword of the God Slayer). New characters of interest such as the female mercenary 'Bullet', the cross-dressing fighter 'Amane Nishiki', Sector Seven's former prisoner 'Azrael', and 'Kagura Mutsuki' are also added to the elaborate tale being told through the game's lengthy "Story Mode". Along with these new additions also come faces of the past such as Relius Clover who return to haunt the major roleplayers. Ragna is now seeking a fabled Lynchpin, Bang is still pursuing justice for the civil war that broke out in Ikaruga, Kokonoe is up to her usual experiments, Jin Kisaragi & NOL are still pursuing their own enemies, and Rachel Alucard is still meddling in everyone elses' business. While the roads to absolution, or destruction are many in BlazBlue you'll find that they are all finally brought to a conclusive intersection in this latest tale.

With the Six Heroes putting their plan to thwart Relius Clover, the Imperator, and Hazama's scheme into play, and Kokonoe and Sector Seven getting their own plans in order you can bet your bottom dollar that the escalating conflict between the phantoms of the past, and the new generation of fighters will soon come to a climax that will affect everyone involved.

What's new ...

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma brings with it a lot of interesting changes, and additions. In a lot of ways this latest installment has more to offer than any BlazBlue game before it. The new characters (Bullet, Amane Nishiki, Azrael, Izayoi (aka, Tsubaki Yayoi), Kagura Mutsuki, Yuuki Terumi (aka, Hazama), and Kokonoe are but a tip of the iceberg when it comes to new features. You will be glad to know that each new playable character carries with them their own story within the "Story Mode", and "Arcade Mode". The "Story Mode" this time around is just as detailed as before, and contains a novel's worth of dialogue as well as arcade style fights thrown in to flesh out the conflicts at hand. you'll find that story mode is branched off into three different chapters including the game's origin tale involving the Six Heroes, The current plight between the main characters of interest, and Sector Sevens behind-the-scenes involvement in what's currently taking place. In arcade mode you can also catch the ending cutscenes of each new character which will shed additional light on their involvement in this latest fight.

Other modes of interest, which can be accessed via the multi-layered main menu include "Abyss Mode", "Score Attack Mode", and "Unlimited Mars Mode". Abyss mode is a lot like a ladder match in other fighting games. It features a map of Kagutsuchi that is divided up by area, and according to difficulty. In each area you will face off against a series of characters, and boss characters with a single bar's worth of health as you advance in depth. The depth, and added character difficulty relies heavily on the area that you are accessing. Sometimes you'll have to go '100' deep (Think Guilty Gear's "Survival"), or even further to reap the benefits of your playthrough, and earn a "Conquest" finish. The matches are single round oriented, and are enhanced by obtainable/usable special effects (SP) as well as 'Strength', 'Defense', 'Speed', and 'Heat' stats. After each boss fight you will have the opportunity to pick from one of four obtainable perks including the previously mentioned ones as well as some bonus loot for spending in the mode's shop. The Abyss mode shop allows you to unlock 'SP (Special)' perks that you have collected during playthroughs which range from colored auras to regeneration, and other mechanics boosting items. The shop even allows you to set the stat levels of your character including that of Strength, Defense, Speed, and 'Heat' supposing you have chosen to upgrade them when the perks become available.

Score Attack Mode on the other hand is a lot like an "Arcade Mode" playthrough, but does not include story elements. Instead your goal is simply to amass the highest score possible during your playthrough. Each playthrough is course oriented (A, B & C), and features a set selection of opposing characters. The score that you earn, supposing you complete a full playthrough is then applied to your online gamer card which details everything about your offline, and online achievements. Lastly the "Unlimited Mars Mode", which is a lot like "Score Attack" in some ways places you up against highly intelligent CPU characters (Mostly "Unlimited" versions) as you fight for a spot on the global leaderboards. This mode is not for newcomers at all, and will require a complete understanding of BlazBlue's latest in-game mechanics in order for a player to even contend. It too plays out in a course base manner with a selectable course, and a set series of characters which must be defeated for your score to count.

Aside from character, and mode offerings you'll also find that certain fighting game mechanics from past BlazBlue releases have been tweaked, or changed. OverDrives, Break Bursts, Crush Triggers, and certain Distortion Drives are amongst the alterations/additions. While I could go into detail about each new feature, and type up a book about every one of these new features there's no need to, because the game's "Tutorial mode" explains things well enough once you know how to read it properly. What I will do however is help you to better understand what the 'Tutorial Mode' is telling you ...

Tutorials, Training, and Missions ...

While you play through the various parts of the tutorial (basics, beginner, intermediate, advanced ...) you will notice that the instructor often times explains button presses in a manner that only seasoned 'BlazBlue' players will understand. This unfriendly method of ushering new players in will no doubt confuse anyone who opts to skip a look at the game's default control layout. Button presses such as FN1 (L1), and FN2 (L2) will more than likely cause you to have to pause the game, and reference the controls repeatedly throughout your tutorial mode playthrough. As I mentioned though I will help you out. When it comes to the "A, B, C & D" button orientation that the game is based upon you will find that these alphabetical references are in fact your controller face buttons. The "A" button refers to (SQUARE), The "B" button refers to (TRIANGLE), the "C" button refers to (CIRCLE), and the "D" button refers to (X). When it comes to taunting you simply need to press the (R1) shoulder button. Other than that you'll find that FN1, and FN2 are linked to the (L1 & L2) shoulder buttons on your PS3 controller. This should help you better understand what the tutorial is trying to explain. Btw, definitely go through the tutorial as it will help you refresh your knowledge, and help you learn about the new in-game mechanics. Even the seasoned BB player will need to do this.

As you might have guessed from my previous ramblings BlazBlue is in essence a four button fighter. Three of the buttons (A, B & C) are your Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks, respectively. The "D" button, or "X" button as it were is the equivalent of a special attack button. By applying directional inputs via the "Left Thumbstick", or the "D.Pad" along with one, or more of these attack buttons you will get different results. These results I speak of can be simple attacks, special attacks, or the mechanics that I spoke of earlier. Once you understand the way the buttons are explained in the tutorial the better equipped you will be to grasp all of it's teachings. Things like combos as well as offensive, and defensive gameplay are a huge part of what BlazBlue is all about, and the only way you'll really learn the ropes, or improve upon your skills is to visit the tutorial, training, and mission modes that are included in this massive fighting game sequel.

Aside from the "Technical (manual controls)" control setup I briefly went over in the previous paragraphs you'll also find the return of "Stylish". While facing an opponent with the "Stylish" control setting in place can be absolutely unfair, and annoying it is meant to be there for those who want to jump into the game without practicing. Combos can be hammered out with repeated button presses, specials and finishers (Distortion Drive, Astral Finish) can be performed in a simplified manner, and even new mechanics such as the 'Overdrive', and 'Break Burst' can be performed with ease. Even with this newbie welcoming I strongly urge players to learn the game's controls properly via the "Tutorial", and "Challenge" modes as 'Technical' controls make for a more precise style of fighting. Stylish is more are less a spammer's wet dream, and is a dick move if the player using is just doing so to troll their way to the top. Btw, in order to tell if an online opponent is using "Stylish" just look at the color of their character's name. If it is green then that player has set his/her controls to "Stylish". Be sure to call them out for it!

As far as "Training Mode" goes it is your basic fighting game practice area where you can hone your in-game skills against a motionless, or active CPU opponent. Of course there is an extensive setting menu in place, so that you can adjust the practice settings to your liking. Meters, health gauges, time limits, positions, and even character selection can be tweaked. In the way of "Missions/Challenge" you'll find that 'Arc system Works' has provided a new way to hone your skills. Basically, "Missions/Challenge" is a mode that helps you to get familiar with each character by having you perform every function that the said character is capable of. Special attacks, Distortion Drives, Overdrive, Break Bursts, Crush Triggers, and other in-game mechanics are all a part of this character-by-character mission based mode. For those of you who have played "Marvel vs Capcom 3" you will know exactly what this type of mode entails. Missions for each character can reach up to "30" missions in number according to the character you choose.

BBCP Online ...

It seems that this time around Arc System Works, and the development team behind the latest BlazBlue experience have went out of their way to make the online mode offerings as grand in scale as the offline ones. In online BBCP you will not only find some new features, but you'll also find some features that seem to have been borrowed from the ideas of other fighting games. The lobby matchmaking options, for example can now be accessed via a SCV-like (Soul Calibur V) map that takes in account all global locales in which players are currently playing. These lobbies which can be accessed via an in-game cursor will each reveal a multi-tier listing of lobbies for that particular area. Along with each tier, or room you will also find the number of occupants who are currently battling it out there. This makes finding a game nearby in your region a much easier task than it was before.

For those of you looking for special secrets within BBCP's lobby you'll find that 'Arc System Works' rewards their fans who continually return for lobby matches. At times special events are held in which a secret Asian lobby will appear on the main lobby map, and once accessed you will earn exclusive dress-up items for your character avatars. Keep in mind though that the lobby menu, and offerings are exclusive to the PS3 version of the game. Sadly the lobby mode is not included in the PS Vita port.

If you are looking to skip out on lobbies, and rooms you have a few options that will no doubt suit your fancy. The standard "Ranked", and "Player" match searching options are still very much intact in both the PS3, and PS vita version of the game. These matchmaking options each contain a simple menu that takes in consideration your applied preferences in regards to area/region, skill level, connection, and other significant details. The only problem I found with these matchmaking options were that often times the preferred skill level type was ignored, and I was placed in a match against a gamer who was way more skilled than myself. This will certainly scare off any newcomer once they experience it for themselves. I should also note that the preferred connection speed is often times ignored as well leaving you paired with someone who has a lesser connection speed.

In the way of personalization the developer has gone out of their way to include some personally identifiable bobbles. These purchasable, or applicable extra items include titles, icons, and frames. While some of these extra online features can be unlocked via offline achievements some of them will have to be purchased with the in-game currency that you collect for doing certain things in the offline/online modes. The titles which will add a personal flair to your in place PSN ID come in the form of words (both Japanese & English), and can be paired to form a three word phrase/title. I for one was glad to see my Twitter moniker "Mr. Awesome" available for choosing. As far as the frames go they are all character oriented in design, and are just in place for visually complimentary purposes. The icons/avatars which reflect a characters' likeness are another story altogether though ...

After selecting your lobby region, and room preference should you decide to go that route you will be taken to a retro game lounge filled with applied social elements (emoticons & Avatars/icons), and retro style 1-v-1 arcade cabinets. After selecting your preferred character icon, and their accessory attachments (yes you can dress up your character icon like a digital doll for a price) via the "D-Note" setup menu along with your title, and frame of choice you will be able to waltz about the mock game room with other icon/avatar replaced players from all over the world. Not only that, but you'll be also be able to share your feelings with your opponent via a simple emoticon menu system. If you think the match was shite then all you have to do is select the picture of poop via the (TRIANGLE) menu, and your onscreen icon/avatar will show off that emoticon image via a thought bubble. Of course there's a handful of other emoticon options in place for each feeling you may have while playing against the world's BlazBlue players.

Aside from matchmaking options, and personalization options you'll find that BBCP (BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma) also has a replay menu in place for all your replay needs. As you confront opponents in online ranked matches you will have the option to go back, and view them in their entirety. By doing so you can find out if you went up against a player using the "Stylish (auto-guard + auto-combos)" play style, or if they played more fairly, and went with the "Technical" play style. Speaking of which there is a way to tell the difference between the two. As I said earlier if you take a look at the character's name on the game's HUD (Display) you will see either gold, or green lettering. If the player your up against has gold letters they are playing the "Technical" play style. If they have green letters showing this means they are playing with the "Stylsih" play style. While both forms of play styles are acceptable online the "Stylish" play style is recognized as being one of a newcomer's, and an easy way out.

It should also be known that the replays that are saved will help you to become a better player if you use them for improvement purposes. Often times top tier players will study the opponents that they run into in case there is something that can be learned from the match in question. Aside from study material you can also use the replays to go back, and add the players you've fought against to the "Good", or "Bad" player list. This will help you to avoid online fights against people who you don't want to go up against, or help improve your odds of encountering the ones that you favored again. If you like to upload replays as well that is supposedly an option yet I cannot find it in the online menus. My guess is that the uploads only apply to matches you've won. If this is the case it's kind of a bad way to go about things as it keeps Youtubers, and social media personalities from sharing near wins, or matches that were good even though the player lost.

About the visuals & audio ...

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is a vastly different game than previous installments in regards to overall visual presentation. Some characters within the game have received a visual overhaul, and look worlds better than before. Others look almost the same. The art in general has taken a slight departure from traditional BB offerings, and shows character representations in a whole new light. In the way of artistic extras you will find character panel art scattered throughout the game's different modes of play. Some of the art such as that in the 'Arcade Mode' playthrough looks like the BB anime we once loved, and other artistic representations like that of Azrael's looks as if it were ripped from a Disney cartoon.

The menus themselves feature a moving 3D accent that is wholly unique to the BlazBlue series. Portions of the menus are animated in a 3D style using special effects that look as if they were designed like ornamental tattoos. Other artistic extras can be found in BBCP's "Extras" menu in the form of commissioned virtual art with comments from the artists themselves. Anime inspired videos, and story mode panels can also be unlocked within the game's "Extras" menu. For those of you looking for extra sound oriented features you'll find that the "Extras" menu has character localization tests which include voices from each of the main characters. Some extras in the game such as the voice, movie, and art related ones will require a certain amount of in-game currency while others must be unlocked through gameplay.

When it comes to the available match backgrounds they are still as impressive as they were in "Continuum Shift II". They incorporate the usual 3D visuals, and 2D art in a complimentary way that is similar to "KoFXIII (The King of the Fighters XIII). It's basically the same as it has always been, only that you'll find new locales/stages available to play on this time around. The music for each stage, some of which is new or has been re-arranged includes a mixture ranging from a more classical style to death metal with applied harsh vocals. Both the stage, and the song choices can be set to your liking before a match, and done so separately in a mix-n-match manner.

In regards to voice-over offerings you can set the settings to the native Japanese, or keep it on the default English if you prefer. Each voice-over, whether in English, or in the native Japanese is done in a manner that suits each given character's personality. For the most part voices seem to be the same with the exception of a couple English dubs which seem to have changed slightly. Rachel Alucard still speaks in her modest English accent, and Taokaka still blabbers on like an immature child talking about boobies, and such. Even Platinum returns with her dual immature voices meant to represent her split personalities.

About the PS Vita port ...

In a nutshell, the PS vita port of "BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma" offers everything that the PS3 version does with the exception of the matchmaking "Lobbies". You'll find that the avatars that are associated with the "Lobby" menu system are completely absent along with the Lobby option. All that is available in regards to the online multi-player settings are the "D-Note" options including the naming system, character icons, and frames (No Avatars). Ranked, and Player matchmaking options are also present for those who wish to put their learned skills to the test. As far as the "Ranked", and "Player" options go you can set the game's parameters (player region, skill ...), character of choice, costume color of choice, and enter into a waiting state (via the "Entry" menu option) in which you can continue to play 'Arcade', or other select single player modes while the game tries to pair you up with another player.

There's also the option to receive challenges via 'Pop-Up" messages (which I recommend), or have the challenge matches activate automatically. When assigning the setting to the "Pop-Up" keep in mind that the pop-up challenge notes will take up a good portion of the playing screen if you are playing 'Arcade' while you wait for a match. Another thing to note is that when you tag a player as "Bad" using the (R1) button in the "View History" ranked, or player match menu their PSN ID will become purple. This helps you differentiate between the good, and bad players. It should also be known that some players who have a perfect match-to-win ratio, and their win score is high the player's PSN ID will be red in color. I think this signifies that the player is more highly skilled than you. I'd strongly advise against engaging players with red PSN IDs, trust me.

When it comes to controls some things obviously had to change, because of the Vita's lack of two additional shoulder buttons. These two main differences that you will find included in the PS Vita experience are the "FN1", and "FN2" button functions which are now assigned to the "Left & Right Thumbstick" respectively. As a result of the swapped controls 'Arc System Works' made this game more of a DPad fighter, and less of a thumbstick oriented one. In regards to functionality the game still plays just as good as it it did in the PS3 version, if not slightly better. The DPad, and face button functions work as they should, and afford any previous PS3 player the same experience as before.

In the way of graphics you'll find that "BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma" fits the PS Vita screen perfectly. There are no border lines like the ones included in the PS3 version, nor are there any HUD display issues like the ones that occurred with the PS3 screen resizing options. The graphics to me looked more vivid, and smoother than their PS3 counterparts. The sound on the other hand did suffer from some issues on the Vita. For some reason during intense vocals, or loud music sequences the sound would distort through the Vita's small speakers in a static-like fashion. It's like the effect you get from playing music too loudly on a stereo speaker. The issue with that problem is that the PS Vita's volume does not have to be turned up high for the sound flaws to occur. Other than that the game sounds, and looks great.

In the online environment you will still find the same mixture of lag heavy, and smooth multi-player matches. The connection status of players does not apply most of the time due to forced lag (aka, lagswitching) that often occurs though. As much as everyone in the fighting game community wants to deny it BBCP is plagued by hackers, and lagswitchers who are intent on making themselves look like top tier players. Due to the unbalanced cast of characters, and the return of "Stylish" gameplay options the online portion of the game has become a cesspool of cheap fights with keep away artists, and spammers at the lead. It's the same on both the PS3, and on the PS Vita.

Conclusion ...

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is by far the largest installment the series has seen yet. The offline modes offer a lot of good options for those looking to perfect their BB skills. There's plenty in the way of training, and there's plenty of replay value in the core modes such as 'Arcade', ' Abyss', 'Score Attack', and 'Unlimited Mars'. The 'Story Mode' alone could be it's own game. Also for those of you just jumping in the series without buying, or playing past BlazBlue games there is an extra mode in 'Story' called "Teach Me Ms. Litchi!" in which Ms. Litchi (aka, the Boobie lady) explains the encounters of the past in a Chibi-like presentation along with other characters from the series. Things like the rehashing of past plot material, and in-game features are explained in the form of mind numbing theatrics. It's an all inclusive source for BlazBlue knowledge.

For those of you looking for an online arena in which to present your BlazBlue character mastery Chrono Phantasma's online modes offer plenty of ways to do so. The online menu setup is easy to understand, and easy to tweak should you feel like taking your game to the next level. You will not find any problems engaging in an online match, and can do so any way you see fit. You can go all out in Ranked, or you can play it safe in Player matches. Proper lobbies, and rooms are also there for your matchmaking needs if you are playing the PS3 version of the game. 

As far as downsides go I found plenty that I was upset with. The way the offline CPU was constructed is up at the top of my list when it comes to complaints. Instead of fighting fair every character you fight against offline will constantly retreat without being negatively penalized. This does not stay true to the online negative status game mechanic, or the push to avoid such gameplay tactics. If you were to do the same your meter as well as your health gauge would be negatively effected. Not only does the CPU constantly retreat, and back dash, but it also exploits projectiles, and baits you to come in for a punish. This latest CPU is by far the worst the BlazBlue series has seen. While you'd expect such tomfoolery from online noobs, and trolls this is not how a professional top tier player plays. It is not how someone who is intent on playing the game properly plays, and it is not how a CPU should act.

For those of you concerned about OP, zoning heavy characters, or exploitable characters BBCP has it's fair share of them. Some characters such as Ragna have special attacks that will allow them to regain health. others such as Azrael are OP powerhouses that can take a helluva a lot of damage, and an dish out even more than others can. To say BBCP is a fair game would be a lie. With players flocking to projectile heavy characters like 'Platinum', or OP characters such as Yuuki Terumi finding a fair fight in the online environment is a damn near impossibility. Japanese players who had this game years before it reached our states here in the US have the home field advantage, and continue to muscle their way to the top of the game's global leaderboards with their advanced knowledge of the game. Being the top tier dedicated players that they are they utilize all the exploits, and know all the secrets to an easy victory.

Sadly, most of the players you run into online will be these dedicated, and top tier Japanese players who have taken over the game in both the offline tournament, and online settings. I'd be lying to you if I said a newbie had a chance to defeat a seasoned BlazBlue player. BlazBlue has always been, and always will be a game for advanced fighting game players. Unless you have the dedication, the determination, and the drive to train like a fighting game pro you might want to pass this game up for something like "Ultimate Street Fighter IV".

Before I close I should also mention my issue with the tutorial mode. There's a reason I went over the game's mechanics like I did. I feel the 'Tutorial', and the 'Mission/Challenge' modes offer better explanations of the new mechanics than what I could give. With that being said though the diagrams of the buttons that were used in the teaching of the tutorial lessons were anything, but user friendly. The developer incorporated a system that was geared entirely to and seasoned BlazBlue players. It did not display the actual buttons you'd have to press in order to perform the onscreen action/s. I found this method of teaching bothersome, and felt it should have been simplified for the sake of those who would dare to learn this game from this point in the series. Instead of including "Stylish" again they could have made learning the game easier than it was in "Tutorial".

In the end I found myself liking, and despising both versions of the game. They had plenty of pro's each, but also had a few significant con's as well. The offline, in my opinion was the richest this series has ever seen on both console formats. Once I picked up on the new mechanics, and began learning my favorite characters I was able to thoroughly enjoy what the offline had to offer. The PS3 with it's offline modes of play, and extras was superbly done. The exclusive inclusion of the "Lobby" menu is still one of my favorite go to areas of the game despite the lackluster online matches. The absence of the lobbies on the PS Vita however was a huge letdown. As far as the online goes you'll find as I did that the netcode has been exploited to hell, and back, and continues to be abused by cheap ass gamers. As a result you are hard pressed to find any good matches on either console. With the roster being as unbalanced as it is it too does not do the game any favors. You'll only see a small fraction of characters used in the online scenario due to those characters' OP, and exploitable nature.

The question that remains is do I recommend either console version, and if so which one is the better of the two? There's no doubt that this latest iteration of the BlazBlue series would be a near perfect "9/10" if it weren't for the players who were ruining it's intended online experience. This applies to both versions of the game. The offline in both versions are highly recommendable, and are alone worth the retail value due to the immense amount of content included. When you factor in the online offerings though both versions' value deplete ever so slightly. I will say that in a console comparison the PS3 version outdoes the PS Vita port simply, because it has the "Lobby" matchmaking options included. If you like your fighters on the go though then BBCP on the Vita is not all that bad. If I had to recommend a favorite I'd definitely say that the PS3 version takes top spot, and that it is actually worth the retail price, especially if you have local buddies to game with. With the lesser price difference applied to the PS vita port I could see it being worth the asking price ($39.99). The absence of the "Lobby" matchmaking option definitely calls for such a price difference.


  1. In my opinion, this is one of the best reviews you ever done. I enjoyed reading this. I was very VERY comprehensive and gives new players good details of what's going on in this series if they have never tried it before.

    Good stuff Dante, you get better and better =D!

  2. Thanks! It means a lot to hear that from you. I try to better myself with each review. I feel there's always room for improvement in whatever one chooses to do in life. Journalist evolution FTW! ^.^


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