Review: Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator (PS4)

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Title: Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (6.7 GB)
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Arc System Works
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is also available on PlayStation 3.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

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It has been about a year and a half since Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- came out. In my review for that game, I joked about Arc System Works’ update cycle and how we would likely be seeing an updated version of -Sign- eventually. Well, that time is here and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is that update.

Gameplay:
As with most games in the series, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is a 2D fighting game. The series tends to be fast paced and combo focused with a lot of mobility. My review of Xrd -Sign- goes more in depth on the specific mechanics of the game and I’d advise giving that a quick read for those who didn’t play it. As this game is an update to that one, not much has changed and I will mostly be covering what’s new in Revelator.

So, what is new? Not much, actually. The new story is a given, as well as new characters. There are some mostly minor changes to some of the game’s mechanics as well. Usually this kind of release would include some balance updates for existing characters, however in a surprising move the developers have not rebalanced returning characters.

Starting off with gameplay mechanic changes, one of the most noticeable ones to me is the addition of the burst overdrive. Normally, the burst meter is only used to burst – knock back an opponent or escape from a combo. However each character now has one overdrive that can be enhanced with burst.

This overdrive still costs half of the character’s tension gauge (special meter) but also costs a full burst gauge. This gives the overdrive better properties: more damage, more invulnerability, and sometimes other benefits depending on the overdrive.

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There are also some changes to blitz shielding/blitz attacks and dust attack follow ups. Truth be told, I really didn’t notice the changes myself, however I have seen a few articles about these changes from fighting game pros. It sounds like they’re enough to shake up the character tier list, even without Arc System Works touching the characters themselves.

Revelator adds a total of six new characters to the cast. Additionally the DLC/unlockable characters from -Sign-, Leo Whitefang, Elphelt Valentine, and Sin Kiske are included in the main cast this time as well. However, of the new characters, two are strictly DLC and a third is unlockable in game or available immediately as DLC.

Three of the characters return from pre-Xrd Guilty Gear fighting games as paid DLC: Johnny, Jam, and Dizzy. Raven, the unlockable character, was in Guilty Gear 2: Overture but makes his fighting game debut here. The last two characters, Jack-O and Kum Haehyun are completely new, and the latter is DLC.

… new characters have their own unique play styles …
Johnny and Jam both play pretty similar to their Guilty Gear XX versions. Johnny is a mid-range character who attacks with a sword. He also has a limited stock of coins that he can use to assist his offense or power up one of his special attacks. One new thing I don’t recall him having before is the ability to steal “precious things” from his opponent to use as coins when he exhausts his initial stock.

Jam is a fast rush down character. She focuses on continually pressuring her opponent. After she has her opponent at a disadvantage, she can charge up three of her special moves to make them more powerful.

Dizzy is unreleased at the moment, so I haven’t been able to play her Xrd series incarnation. In Guilty Gear XX she was a very long-range character who could use a variety of projectiles to control space. Once she had the opponent on the ropes, she could rush in for some massive combos.

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Like the rest of the cast, the new characters have their own unique play styles. Jack-O is interesting because she is inspired by a completely different genre of game, specifically Real Time Strategy. Some of her moves drop spawn points which can summon little attack units. These units can then pressure the her opponent and she can also use moves to upgrade them or cause them to explode.

Raven is a masochistic character, both in personality and playstyle. In game he has a lot of longer reaching attacks and some of his moves get stronger as he takes damage. This makes him a double edged sword as he can become more powerful the closer he gets to dying.

… a pretty good job of explaining some fighting game basics …
Finally, Kum. I haven’t been able to play him/her yet as the DLC isn’t out yet. I say him/her because although Kum appears to be a large, muscular man, that man is actually a robotic shell being piloted by a woman. And if that seems odd, keep in mind that this is the same series which gave us a monster being piloted by a dog/human fusion.

Revelator ships with a set of modes pretty similar to -Sign-. Arcade Mode has the player running through eight fights. Online and Versus constitute the game’s multiplayer offerings. MOM Mode is still a deeper, RPG-like mode that has some small but mostly insignificant changes from -Sign-. And finally Revelator has a few different training and learning modes.

Like with -Sign-, Revelator does a pretty good job of explaining some fighting game basics, complete with an interesting ‘obstacle course’ approach. This tutorial goes over the very basics like movement and attacking while a mission mode adds nearly another hundred advanced topics. Mission mode topics dive deeper into fighting game aspects like hit confirming a combo into an overdrive.

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Finally, the Combo Mode features character-specific missions. The first set is very easy, focused just on familiarizing the player with that character’s special moves and mechanics. Later sets have actual combos to practice.

Once again, the game has a story mode that is completely devoid of any actual fighting. I was also very disappointed with the story at first. At only five chapters, and clocking in at about two hours, the story was a lot shorter than in -Sign-.

… a very full encyclopedia of Guilty Gear lore …
The story doesn’t resolve any of the hanging plot threads left from the previous game. Plus it features three characters that were playable in older Guilty Gear games but who aren’t playable yet in the Xrd series, which is a little frustrating for fans of those characters.

However, upon doing some research before writing this, one of my concerns was abated. There will be some free updates, possibly as free DLC, that will add more to the story. The Japanese version of the game already has at least the sixth chapter, based on a screenshot someone posted.

The Story Mode, what’s there currently, will probably be a little tougher for series newcomers to get into than the last game and worse still for those who didn’t play that previous version. At least the game has a very full encyclopedia of Guilty Gear lore, for anyone willing to sit and read through hundreds of pages of text.

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Visuals:
Gulty Gear Xrd Revelator uses the same visuals I loved in Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-. Though the gameplay is all 2D, characters are rendered in 3D and cel-shaded to make them appear closer to 2D. It’s still a stunning game visually, when used for the frantic gameplay of the Guilty Gear series.

One small thing that bothered me, mostly in the story scenes in the Arcade or Story Modes: occasionally the cel-shading would cause a patch of shadow to appear/disappear when the character moved their head only slightly. This shadow popping in/out was distracting on the few occasions it happened.

Another small nitpick, but the subtitles are occasionally hard to read. This is true mostly in the Arcade Mode’s story on the occasions when they decide not to use text boxes.

Other than those small nitpicks, it has a great visual style. Special attacks are all crazy and fun and the game isn’t above giving its characters cartoony reactions to some of the silly things that happen, as they acknowledge how crazy something like a woman piloting a man-sized-robot is.

… no longer has an English dub …
Audio:
First things first, since this may be a big issue for some players, Revelator no longer has an English dub. -Sign- was pretty unique among the Guilty Gear fighting games for including one but it would seem that Aksys has decided not to do so this time around. This could be related to the story mode being unfinished as well.

The Japanese voice track does a fine job though, so I personally didn’t mind it. The returning-but-new-to-the-Xrd-series characters felt familiar to me, since the older games didn’t have English voices either.

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I’ve always been a fan of the music in the Guilty Gear series and this one doesn’t disappoint. Many songs are reused from the last game but there are a few new tracks, mostly for the new characters. If that’s not enough, in game cash can be used to unlock music from previous games as well.

Guilty Gear was heavily inspired by rock music, so naturally the music in game is rock as well. Expect a lot of tunes strong on the guitar. A few tracks break that norm though, to good effect.

… Cross-Platform between PS3 and PS4 …
Online/Multiplayer:
As with any fighting game, versus modes are where players will end up residing as they exhaust the single player content. Revelator features a normal offline versus mode and three online modes. These online modes are the same ones as in -Sign-: Lobby, Player, and Ranked, so the only new thing in this game’s online mode is… uh, the ability to go fishing for items while in a lobby?

I complained previously about how peculiar it was that the game makes online players take up space in a lobby to play the other two modes. The complaint must have fallen on deaf ears, as this one has the same quirk. It also retains the inability to invite players to a player room, though rooms can still be passworded to prevent random players from joining.

Online itself plays fine, in my limited experience. The game is definitely Cross-Platform between PS3 and PS4, and I believe I was playing against players on the Japanese version so cross region as well. As per usual, connection strength can vary but the game does display an approximation of the opponent’s connection before starting. In-game, the current lag, in frames, is also displayed which can be a helpful metric.

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Conclusion:
I’m really of two minds with Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. One one side, this is still a lot of what I liked about Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-. I’ve backed off a little from my first initial review but that one was still a game I would pop in and play from time to time over the past year. Revelator will definitely usurp that as it is purely an upgrade.

On the other side though, this game is slightly underwhelming as full-priced update. The only big additions here are the six new characters and the story mode, but getting all six of those characters means paying even more on top of the retail game, thanks to DLC.

The new tutorials are fantastic though, and an in-game FAQ means the series is more welcoming than ever to newcomers, at least for the gameplay side of things. I would easily suggest this version to anyone looking to get into Guilty Gear.

Ultimately, I think I fall somewhere in between. Though I would be remiss to not mention feeling underwhelmed at the new content, I expect to load up this game regularly which means it must be doing something right. Even if “regularly” just means “until the next Guilty Gear Xrd in another year and a half.”

Side note: The DLC to unlock Raven easily and the Kum DLC will be available for free at launch for a short period. Anyone reading this near the game’s launch who is thinking about getting Revelator should grab those from the PlayStation Store before they go to paid DLC.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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