BlazBlue: First Impressions

It's been a long time coming and finally BlazBlue is available!  I had the opportunity to sit down with the game for the first time yesterday, and boy oh boy there's tons of stuff to write about for this game.

BlazBlue is very solid — I've yet to see a 2D fighter that has so much stuff in it.  It's not the fast-paced, frenzied action that it's predecessor Guilty Gear was, but in it's place is a more interactive, "tit-for-tat", back and forth fighter that's more seasoned and more in-depth.  There's a pretty large amount of game mechanics info that needs to be memorized at first, but once mastered you'll be BlazBlue-ing it up like a pro. 

Unfortunately, the roster is pretty tiny (Only twelve characters? Really?).  It felt fine at the beginning, but after an hour of gameplay it felt just a wee bit…lacking.  Having just twelve characters does lend a bit of balance to the game, but as one person commented yesterday, maybe it's only balanced because every character has some kind of cheap gimmick to use against the others? 

I did some digging, and maaaaaaan…there's a ton of cheesy bullshit in this game.

Take for example the new "drive" system.  It functions in the same vein as the Arcana system in Arcana Heart, with each character having access to a unique drive with differing levels of actions and properties.  For example, Carl Clover's drive controls his companion robot around the stage, bringing a type of duality that would usually require the work of two people playing in tandem.  Mastering his drive equals mastering placement around the field, which is something that isn't present in games like Street Fighter.

As a matter of fact, Carl's drive is so powerful it can do stuff like this:

Carl’s loop on everyone

Just to be clear, you cannot escape these combos.  On top of that, every time Carl throws you the damage scaling is reset, enabling 100% raw damage at all times. 

I'm told only the premium version is on sale now, and it comes with an introductory DVD that includes character strategies and commentary from well known U.S. players (Peter Rosas aka Combofiend has a small piece, as well as Mike Z who did a hilariously bang up job introducing Iron Tager).  It's no training / challenge mode a la Street Fighter 4, but it's just as helpful if not more. 

Too bad it doesn't look as nice as the 1080p eye candy the actual game delivers, but it still has a lot of value to the uninitiated.  But you do get this nifty soundtrack with lovely art on it.


For more info regarding individual character strategies to tier lists to general video link farming, check out these links:

BlazBlue Guide
Dust Loop Forum
Shoryuken Forum

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Random quote of the day: "I like girls, but I'm more into justice."

July 2009
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