Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, Released: May 26, 2015, Reviewed on: PC, Genre: Fighting, Developer: Arc System Works, Publisher: Arc System Works
There’s a lot to be said for relying on familiarity, and there’s also a lot to be said for becoming stale by never evolving. The Guilty Gear series has just undergone a major reinvention with the release of Guilty Gear Xrd: Sign and the upcoming GG Xrd: Revelator, but that’s only been released / is releasing on major home consoles. Meanwhile, in PC land, we’re stuck with getting the fifth revision of a thirteen-year-old game.
With that said, it’s the best revision yet, and it’s also packing one of the most ridiculous titles a video game has ever sported. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is a true rebalance of the venerated fighting franchise’s cast, with certain characters getting moves from old games, tweaks that make them more viable in competitive play, and some characters have been toned down or completely reworked in order to make them fair to use. And that’s always a great thing. Even better still is the fact that this rebalancing / update procedure has taken place five times over nearly a decade and a half, which speaks to how well the base game holds up and withstands the test of time.
However, this game is most certainly not for everyone. GGXXAC+R (even the acronym looks silly) is not for the faint of fingers. If you’re looking to get into fighting games, you’re much better off looking elsewhere. If you like fighting games and are looking to have something to kick around and play with, you might find some fun in here. But you won’t get all this game has to offer unless you’re the kind of player that feels compelled to spend hundreds of hours learning the finer mechanics of the gameplay system and each character within it. It’s not just about spacing, normals, specials and supers. There’s systems upon systems upon systems in this game, and you’ve got to keep your mind’s eye on all of them simultaneously if you want to excel at it.
So much, in fact, that I — a dedicated fighting game aficionado — prefer many other franchises to Guilty Gear. And this game’s release did nothing to change that viewpoint. There’s so much to keep an eye on that it seems like overkill. Dust, Burst, Roman Cancels, Faultless Defense — it’s like Arc System Works just likes seeing how many things they can make players do and keep track of, and that doesn’t even get into characters like Holy Order Sol, Jam or Johnny, which require more items and / or meters to manage outside of the standard setup that everyone has by default. The best thing they could have done here was give the game a proper tutorial mode like the one that they put into Xrd. I know how to do a lot of this stuff, but it took me years of screwing around with it. Accessibility counts for a lot these days, and there’s none of that to be found here.
What is to be found is loads of style and a staggering, near-mythical amount of gameplay depth. That said, the core game is showing its age. It’s almost a decade and a half old, and while the gameplay has been refined and the character roster expanded, it’s still echoing my time spent trying to decipher the madness in Guilty Gear XX #Reload: The Midnight Carnival. And that was on the original Xbox. The fact that the game still exists and is still just as much fun is a testament — pun intended for GG fans — to how strong the game is, despite the passage of time being somewhat unkind to it, especially in the visual deaprtment. The sprite work was revolutionary for its time, but it cannot hold a candle to some of the work that has been done since the early 2000s, and especially in ArcSys’ own recent brilliant job on Guilty Gear Xrd.
I never ran into any damning technical issues during my time with the PC version. What I did run into was a ghost town when I tried to go online. I don’t know what sort of soul-selling deal to make in order to get a match over Steam, and if I knew, I probably wouldn’t have to wait in the lobby for fifteen to twenty minutes by default just waiting on people to show up and play. The few matches I had were quite solid, and the netcode performed admirably enough. One time, an air combo string started chugging the match hard, to the point where I thought this guy would assume that I had ragequit, but it smoothed right out once the netcode got a hold on what was going on. It was a minor hiccup, but a noticable one.
As much as I like Guilty Gear, I don’t necessarily love it. And that’s okay. I won’t let that opinion color this review at all. What I will let color it is the fact that the game is solidly built, the port is of good quality, and the netcode works well when you can find other people to play. Even with all that said, I still wouldn’t recommend this for beginner fighting game players, nor would I recommend it to players that wanted to play something that didn’t involve what may be the steepest — and yet due to this, possibly the most rewarding — difficulty curve in the entire genre. It’s worth picking up on Steam Sales, for sure. Full price? Well, that’s your prerogative, and it all boils down to whether or not you want to speak a completely different language when you talk about your fighting game of choice.
The review copy of this title was a digital code provided by the publisher.