Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Last Blade 2 (PS4) - Faults & Finds

Consider this a companion piece to my core review. It will include info on things I figured out, encountered, and forgot to include ...

The first thing I want to address is the annoyance that is the item unlock message. At first I didn't know why my matches were being rudely interrupted by a pop-up message that brought up the pause/options menu. As it turns out it was letting me know I unlocked one of the gallery's 29 unlockable images, and that it was saving my progress because of that fact. I'm not sure why SNK thought it was a good idea to do things this way, but it's definitely not a good development decision. Thankfully once you unlock all of the gallery items you'll no longer be bothered by the pop-ups, and can play the game without pause.

Another thing I feel I need to better explain is how the series of matches in the 'Story Mode' works. Basically you have a set number of rounds (1-5?), and two overlapping health bars per round. The objective is to use your repels, guarding, and attacks to fully deplete your opponent's health. You can also throw to do damage as well as taunt, run, and backstep should you need to or feel the desire to do so. The last round of a match can end with a finisher should you land either a slash, or heavy slash attack. These finishers will either see your opponent cut into two pieces with their upper half sliding off as they are on their knees/in the air, or will see blood spurt from a puncture wound, and see them slump over onto the ground. With the added blood effects on it's quite the brutal way to end a match.

Story mode matches, as with most fighting games include after match quotes with a still image of the character in use as well as sub-boss dialogue via captions before a sub-boss fight. There's even an ending cinematic sequence disclosing the chosen character's path in the story at the end of a complete playthrough. Most of the characters end up facing off against Kouryu which is a possessed form of Geisei. Geisei, as it were is a master who brought at least a handful of characters up as his pupils. Of course there is the oddball character as well from the other side of Hell's Gate who has their own separate dark path plot which also unfolds in a similar manner. The ending cinematic sequences are actually animated quite nicely, and come complete with ending credits, and an ending quote from the developers saying something along the lines of, "May your life be filled with happiness". It is definitely a positive "Game Over" screen if I've ever seen one.

The next thing I wanted to mention is that there is a way to continue once you have completely lost a match in 'Story Mode'. You'll need to first press the center touch pad on the Dualshock4 controller when the countdown timer appears, and will need to follow that up by selecting the "Yes" option with the "X" button. This will deduct most, if not all your points earned up to that point in your playthrough, but will also shorten the CPU opponent's health to make it easier for you to win.

Lastly I need to mention the fact that you can manually change your controller button setup at the main menu "Controls" section. It is set by default to have the face buttons assigned as I mentioned in my review, and for the shoulder buttons to have combined button presses in order to make things like throwing or performing the 'Super Secret Slash', or Hidden Secret Slash' moves easier to pull off. You can set them how you like though, and even reset the changed layout back to it's default setting if you should desire to do so later on.

It should also be noted that the PS4's Dualshock4 controller responds quite smoothly with the game, especially in the offline environment. You have to realize that depending on which character ability (Power / Speed) you choose will determine how quickly your attacks come out though. Power characters will obviously have a slowing down, or delay while Speed characters can punish/attack much more quickly. The quickness of attacks also depends greatly on what type of weapon the character is using, and how exactly they use that weapon in-game. I should have said earlier that fighting in "The Last Blade 2" is all about timing, reach, weapon type, and ability type. You definitely have to plan out your attacks based on these four things, and be able to change your approach on a moment's notice.

I think that about wraps up the review. Consider it a two-part review. If you can tolerate the one bad development decision in the offline portion of the game (the pop-up notifications), would like to play 'The Last Blade 2' again for old time's sake, and don't have your heart set on a perfect online matchmaking experience then I think this might be worth adding to your PS4/PS Vita library for the current asking price. It does have it's flaws, but I think it translates well enough on modern console for a proper trip down memory lane.

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