Review: BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND
by: Nathan Han
As a game developer, Arc System Works never caught on with me. Though I have never disliked their Guilty Gear series, I had never been able to try BlazBlue and it never quite held the same appeal to me as Guilty Gear. Given that EXTEND recently became available to me and my interest in 2D fighters, giving the game a whirl ended very pleasantly in a few ways that surprised me.
2D fighters have long since stagnated generally into Street Fighter ripoffs but without interesting characters. Entire series of Flash games online can be found of such examples, but BlazBlue: CSE mixes the great 2D elements of Street Fighter and blends it into its own style of sorts, with its own strategy and appeal. Fighters have been struggling to appeal to new players for a long while now, and the new Stylistic mode of play allows beginners to access normally difficult combos for newbies to the series who don’t spend their waking hours devoted to the game.
Building up power to unleash your strongest attacks is actually only one strategy of many you can use to win matches. Every combo, every attack has a block and/or counter in some way, so immediately using your strongest attacks actually is a hamper if your opponent can match your abilities. Having the ability to remedy your attacker is vital to your survival.
My main problem with games like Street Fighter is their overall repetitiveness. BlazBlue solves this by offering wide ranges and skill sets per character, and EXTEND even gives you strategies in the tutorials for each character in the game. This better allows both newbies and regulars to the series to get in touch with the characters and formulate better and newer strategies.
The hand drawn graphics are simply beautiful. A lot of the animation was used from the older Continuum Shift, but you can definitely see a lot smoother production and more fluid animations than the previous title. Only a couple of new characters may not seem like much to a fighting game series, but in BlazBlue, it can make all the difference. BlazBlue EXTEND focuses heavily on specialization rather than customization- the character you pick has unique strengths and specialties that no other character has.
The most commendable trait of the game is, without a doubt, the inclusion of a story mode. Though Arcade mode has its story, it pales in comparison to the Story mode, which has full fledged cutscenes and dialogue with many characters that branch out. It’s also replayable, as choices you make in the story affect different character interactions. There are also entire animated scenes showcasing the power of the story.
In the end, the game’s major downfall is that it really only appeals to fans of anime. Many will be unimpressed by the battle system, even with new amendments, and veterans may feel cheated. Personally, I think there is a lot of fun to be had with the game and there is plenty that sets it apart from other fighters. The game does well to set itself apart, but the style and presentation may turn off people. I would recommend it heavily if you’re looking for a change of pace amongst legions of fighters.
This game is mostly gameplay, and its heavy emphasis on accessibility showcases itself readily and easily.
Though the hand-drawn characters look awesome, a lot of animation gets reused from previous titles with no updates to their look in most modes.
No track is a particular standout, but they all suit the mood and feel of the game greatly and doesn’t even loop that much unless you play a match for more than 5 minutes.
A commendable attempt to incorporate story, but being a fighting game doesn’t particularly help get the point across and it stumbles a bit.
A very close master of “easy to learn, difficult to master” gameplay, but still trying to carve a niche into the fighting game market.