GUILTY GEAR STRIVE
By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on June 15, 2019
Alrighty then, it has been a while since played a new fighting game. Back when I saw the announcement trailer for Guilty Gear Strive ( GGS ) I was happy to see a new version of this crazy fighting game franchise from the legends over at Arc System Works. In the past I've owned a few instalments of their fighting games on PS3 and PS4. I can't even remember what the names where to be honest, you will have to forgive me on that part, I'm just not good at remembering names. What I do remember was the hours and hours of fun I had beating the crap out of the most crazy line-up of fighters ever to be seen on your screen. So bear with me and let me explain to you what makes GGS such a great franchise.
Guilty Gear is a pretty extensive franchise with its own fantasy world events, ludicrous characters and anime style story telling. To be frank (and yes, I know my name is Tom, but you know what I meant), Guilty Gear has so many sequels, spin offs and side projects that I'm a bit lost when it comes to the entire story. Probably because I didn't get the chance to play all versions of all prequels and previous instalments. Lucky for us casual fans, Arc System Works has got us covered. Inside Strive there is a library with a complete time line explanation of all previous events and important crossroads. And a very detailed description of characters and explanation about the world that makes Guilty Gear.
The story mode is something quite unique. In normal fighting games, you get to see a short intro, maybe a cinematic, explaining why you're gonna kick the next guy's or gal's butt, then start the aforementioned kicking-of-the-butt part, and then the outro cinematic plays explaining what a troubled childhood you had and how you like My Little Ponies now. or, at least, something like that. No,. Arc System Works decided to create a full-fledged Anime series for us to enjoy, and I mean a real Anime series when I say this. They've completely outdone themselves, and you get to watch the story without the kicking of the butts part interrupting the story telling part. You can even pause or save in between story mode chapters or decide to binge-watch it all at once. Magnificent.
But we're here for the kicking-of-the-butt stuff, so let's get on with it! To be honest, and yes I was Frank earlier, my all-time favourite fighting game of all time has to be Killer Instinct on the SNES. For me this was the perfect fighting game, I even bought a Xbox One, just so I could play the latest version of it after I had the game lurking at me from my cupboard for over 2 years. Yes, I owned a game for which a didn't even have a console. like I said , best fighting game ever! Guilty Gear reminds me a lot of Killer Instinct. And this is why I love these games so much. For me games need to feel like a game. I don't want too much realism, and shooting people in the head all day like in Call of Duty just isn't my cup of tea. So yeah, kicking some butts with the strangest and most diverse cast you've ever seen in gaming history is something I like a lot, thank you very much. Guilty Gear Strive has two sides, which makes it almost perfect. You can either lose yourself in all the lore and insanely extensive story series, or just focus on kicking butt.
The cast of 15 characters to start with is the most diverse I've seen in a long while in any fighting game. Each character has a completely unique fighting style, move set, special abilities and just plain weird design features. I won't explain it all in great detail, that would ruin the fun of experiencing it yourself, but I owe it to myself to mention a couple of them. So in most fighting games there just have to be a Ken and Ryu. Two similar fighters, slightly different but mostly copy-paste with a different color. In Guilty Gear , Ky Kyske might be seen as Ryu. A skilled noble fighter with a straight sword, fluent movement and a great accessibility for newer players. On the other hand Sol-Badguy would then be Ken, but in no way is Guilty Gear going down the regular path, and so Sol is a completely different character all together. Brutal in both fighting style as personality with a huge sword and powerful attacks and a foul mouth to piss off anyone who stand before him.
Being a heavily Anime inspired game, GGS of course features a handful of beautiful ladies to accompany the men. And let me tell you, these girls can really stand their ground. Like May, a small cute pirate girl riding a dolphin swinging a giant anchor around, or Ramlethal, my personal favourite I might add, a beautiful demigoddess who has two pet balloons that wield ginormous swords that fly towards her enemies on command. And then we have our really crazy characters like Zato, a resurrected shadow assassin that can bend dark matter into all kinds of crazy stuff you would normally find in a Japanese giftshop. And then there's my second favourite character out of the bunch, Faust. A crazy doctor with a paper bag over his head, and a move set that defines the craziness of Guilty Gear Strive in a single character. I mean come on, Faust has a special move that will give any other character a huge afro for a while. yes, you heard me right. Just look at the picture below. This is awesome. Imagine doing that to someone online in a serious fight.
Speaking of online, Guilty Gear Strive also has an extensive online community. Sadly, because the game wasn't completely launched yet, I had some troubles logging onto the servers, and there weren't to many players online to play with. But I expect it to go nuts as soon as the community gets their hands on a copy. The online environment is what we could expect from a crazy game like GGS. And with the 8 bit conversion of a player lobby we can have a lot of fun. You can go fishing using your earned credits and collect more and more options for your avatar or collectables for your library. When standing at a fight table in the lobby others can come over and either talk to you or start the fight. The matchmaking itself is very smooth and there is a snappy uplink to the servers. After the match is over you can decide to do an instant rematch up to 3 times if your opponent agrees. So you can fight a few bouts together before returning to the lobby.
Inside Guilty Gear Strive there are many more options for you to discover, like a very extensive training mode, with a perhaps bit tedious continuation system. I would advise to change this a bit, because having to return to a menu every time before progressing to the next training step is really not necessary, in my humble opinion. But nonetheless this is a great feature when it comes to learning the Guilty Gear ropes. Fighting with friends in couch coop mode is always a great addition to any game, so of course whenever this bloody pandemic is over you can try this feature to your heart's content. It will be a lot of fun, I personally guarantee it.
The game looks fantastic; really beautiful, almost hand drawn Anime artwork, combined with a hefty amount of acid tripping special effects and screen filling special attack animations. The level design is also on a whole new level compared to the previous versions. A lot of time and effort went into the very detailed and diverse fighting stages. Some of the stages also have multiple layers, that are activated when pushing your opponent beyond the stage barriers. Very nicely done. The entire Anime Story featurette is just mind boggling. Like I mentioned before, this is a huge story arc that is told in a dramatic Anime series and is put together with a lot of passion and effort, great job!
So in conclusion, Guilty Gear Strive is a must have for any Anime and or Fighting game enthusiasts out there. This game Rocks, literally. crap, now I have told you a bunch already and still forgot to mention the insane and awesome soundtrack. I guess there's just too much going on over here. Or, like Faust would say: "Trust me, I'm a doctor".
GUILTY GEAR STRIVE
Arc System Works
June 11, 2021