[Shock Value is a weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]
- Title: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
- Developer: Ark System Works
- Publisher: AKSYS Games
- Genre: Fighting
- Release: PS3/Xbox 360: 2009, PC/PSP: 2010
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC (import), PSP
- Pricing: PS3 New: $20, PS3 Used: $18, X360 New: $20, X360 Used: $18, PSP New: $20, PSP Used: $18, PC: $30+ Import costs
If you frequent the site, you may have heard me praising BlazBlue on multiple occasions. Honestly, it never gets old. Because there’s always some poor uninformed soul who doesn’t know that Street Fighter IV nearly lost Fighting Game of the Year to BlazBlue last year. Frankly, it isn’t surprising how good this game is. When the creators have series such as Guilty Gear and Arcana Hearts under their belts, you expect good things.
The first thing you’ll notice is the game’s stunning art style. Sprites glimmer and gleam in gorgeous HD perfection. It’s without a doubt the best looking 2D game you’ve ever feasted your eyes on. It’ll take some time before you’re able to actually pay attention to the battle, instead of drooling over the symphony of colors and displays that burst across the screen during battle. This game looks so good, that you could randomly freeze a frame of game play and hang it in a museum. OK, well it looks nearly that good.
This fighting game is for the dedicated trainee only. Don’t expect to beat anybody before you’ve done your time in practice mode learning strategies. There are a total of twelve playable characters. I know that seems like a very small number when compared to the increasingly huge rosters of other fighters available, but it works flawlessly. Ever heard the line “Less is more”? Think of BB’s roster this way. You’ve got a vampire princess witch who controls the wind, an ice wielding warrior who’s sword controls him, and a boy who fights with a giant marionette he believes is his sister. They’re unique to say the least.
The combat is deep and satisfying. It’s overtly offense based, with an obvious focus on combos, hi/low mix-ups and counter attacks. You won’t stand a chance with the turtle technique that plagues the SSFIV online modes. Combination attacks are complex at first, but gradually become second nature. Each match is high stakes since just one fault in your attack or defense can lead into a punishing follow up. Even if you get demolished your first couple of hours online, you’ll get the hang of it.
The online mode is comprehensive. Save replays, create rooms, matchmaking, spectator boxes; it seems they’ve thought of everything. Now I have to be honest with you: the online community is nowhere near as enthusiastic as it once was. This is due no doubt to the recently released sequel to BB: CT. However, you will get opponents. It will just take longer and there will be less of them. Online play is as sharp as a razor by the way. You’ll rarely encounter even a glimpse of lag.
The story mode in the game is done in the fashion of Japanese visual novels. It is a long, deep story that requires you play through hours of scenario battles with every character to gradually uncover the full story of the Azure Grimoire. It adds a lot of value to the game and is actually a fairly well executed story. For the first time in a long time, I booted up a fighting game excited to learn more about the characters and their backgrounds instead of just fighting.
Did I mention that the music is absolutely fantastic? Composer Daisuke Ishiwatari lends his talents, known best for his work in the Guilty Gear series. Tracks range from punk rock, to metal and clash, all the way to sweeping orchestral arrangements. The music is so good; you will definitely notice and have your favorites in no time. The instrumental piece Imperial Code is one of my personal favorites.
BlazBlue is a masterpiece, a veritable work of art and I theorize that even people who don’t like fighting games should try this title. It won numerous awards when it was released last year, and as a new series did well to even compete with SFIV and its overwhelming franchise advantage for Fighting Game of the Year.
It has it all – airtight controls, deep, intricate game play, superb and delectable visuals, ambient soundtrack, comprehensive online suite and a time consuming story mode to boot. If you like fighting games….no scratch that, If you like good games, there Is no reason you shouldn’t already own this game. If you don’t own it yet, $20 is a very small price to pay for what you’ll be getting in this phenomenal fighter.