Graphics:
8.8
Gameplay:
9.0
Sound:
8.6
Control:
8.4
Replay Value:
9.1
Online Gameplay:
8.2
Overall Rating:
8.6
Publisher:
Aksys Games
Developer:
Arc System Works
Number Of Players:
1-2
Genre:
Fighting
Release Date:
July 27, 2010


Note: We normally don't put any catch-up reviews (reviews on games that came out over 1 month ago) on the main page, but SO many people requested this, and I just had to do it.  Apologies on the delay.

The first BlazBlue was a blessing for old-school, hardcore fighting fans, who typically stick to the most in-depth, demanding games that require the utmost skill and patience. The follow-up, Continuum Shift , will ask that any player do the same once again, although Arc System Works has implemented one particular gameplay element that immediately makes the game more accessible. The only downside here is that if you’ve already played the original title, the new characters alone might not be enough of a reason to nab the latest. That being said, you won’t find a better example of brilliant, intricate fighting anywhere, and the gorgeous 2D presentation remains as pleasant as ever. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the genre, it’s not difficult to spot the sheer level of depth, polish and longevity in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift . Fighting fans, you’ve got another winner.

Who says 2D is dead? Well, for the most part, it is…just don’t tell these developers. They have provided us with an example of what could be done in the 2D world, if designers would simply put forth the requisite effort. Although they could probably take another step in terms of clarity and sharpness, the amount of character and environmental detail is impressive, and those special effects are flawlessly beautiful. The animations always remain fluid and a joy to behold and with so many different backdrops and settings, and so many very distinct characters and fighting styles, there’s no way you’ll see everything there is to see in a few hours. This game is a graphical tour-de-force within its lesser-appreciated 2D realm and it’s tough to find any significant flaws. It’s just so pretty; you’re gonna love it.

As you might expect, we’ve got the lame-duck voiceovers that drag the sound category down but other than that, the effects and soundtrack are perfect for the style and attitude of BlazBlue . Every strike is crisp and some seriously satisfying effects accompany the crowd-pleasing special skills. After going through a few battles, the music started to seem a bit repetitive but in reality, there are lots of different tracks; they’re all just quite similar, that’s all. I suppose the purists will almost try to claim that the horrid voice acting is part of the old-fashioned charm, but that’s not much of an excuse. However, some of the voices really aren’t too bad at all; the narrator for the Story Mode was actually decent. Besides, this one is all about the gameplay, and the emphatic in-battle statements made by the characters spice things up, and almost make us forget about cringing during cut-scenes.

Although the depth is absolutely insane, you might be surprised to know that at its core, there are only four attacks in this particular combat mechanic: weak, medium, strong and Drive; although each character has his or her own inventory of moves, it really all boils down to these four commands. …that being said, you almost can’t imagine what the developers do with those four commands. At first, during the first hour or so, you’re thinking to yourself, “wow, this is really pretty and fun, but maybe it isn’t anything too special,” and then, something will click. After that click, your state of mind quickly changes to, “holy sh**…I’ll never learn all this.” Each character has a specific super attack (Ragna uses his Drive to absorb an opponent’s health, for example), and there are far more advanced fighters that demand a ton of attention. Just because you get pretty good with one doesn’t mean you’ll have any success at all with another.

There’s just so much to see and do! Then, you’ve got the gameplay options- in addition to playing online, and the standard Arcade and Versus modes, there’s the lengthy and well-produced Story Mode and the Challenge Mode, which will ask you to complete a variety of difficult battle objectives. Being more a fan of RPGs, and knowing how some role-playing adventures can take some time to get started, I was surprised to see the build-up in the Story Mode's plot. If you sit and watch and listen to the introduction and various storytelling segments, this mode could take a while . However, you are watching more often than not when involved in the Story; you’re waiting to fight and many times, they just don’t know when to end a scene. It gets a little frustrating. I’m also unsure of whether or not this would appeal to fans of this particular genre; I doubt they’re even interested in such an option, especially when it features a story that takes time to unwind.

But still, I consider it a bonus and I be the critic, so that’s all that matters right now. The other thing we need to talk about is the Beginner Mode, the most significant new addition: basically, it allows you to pull off complicated combination attacks simply by hitting the same button over and over. I’m not entirely sure why it’s here, though…it’s too childish and simple for hardcore fighting fans – most certainly the intended audience – and it doesn’t really help you prepare for the normal mode, where you actually have to hit the correct buttons in the correct order. I guess it makes the game more accessible but they overdid it. Even so, I kinda liked being able to see so many awesome combos from so many different characters; it was a dazzling display that only required some simple button presses. And everything else about the game, ranging from the frame rate to the graphical display to the depth of modes to the intricacy and beauty of the combat…it’s all great.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is about as excellent as fans would expect. If you liked the first, there’s almost no chance you won’t like the sequel; the only question – as I stated before – is whether or not you think it’s enough of an upgrade to warrant a purchase. I will say you can spend a ridiculous amount of time with it; even just going through the Story Mode and selecting a favorite character to master could take you a very long time. The main attraction is clear: the smoothness, complexity, and overall gorgeousness of the entire production.  The artistic flair may be subjective but there’s no denying the huge amount of polish and professionalism. The only drawback was going online; there did seem to be a bit of lag and for some reason, it didn't seem to be any more fun playing against human players.  But it's still a good option for any one-on-one fighting game, right?  This product is obviously a labor of love, created by people who adore this genre and this style, and that’s to be commended.

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GuardianMode
GuardianMode
11 years ago

I never played this but after reading the article its now worth a rental.

sonic1899
sonic1899
11 years ago

It's worth a purchase 😉

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

Yay!! I love this game so much. I'm actually TaoMeowMeow…I just love going incognito. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

And add me and I will rape you with Tao online 😀
FlyingKickPunch

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

Hey I wondered where you went off to. It's me, wolfcrimson. And hey, my new name hints at the characters I pick . Can you figure them out? 😉

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

Rawrgna, Hakumen (nooooo!!), and the almighty Tao! I want to see her face so bad, but alas…So I just make fanart! :p

Can you taunt loop? I can like 50% of the time, but never online…even the slightest lag throws it off…I'm much better off with the
6c>236cc>2d~6>j.c.8d~6>j.c>8d~6>j.236bb>j.236bbbb
THAT'S REAL ULTIMATE POWER MY FRIEND!!! 😀

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

Ding ding ding! Correct! You win: A Fatal Counter 5k Belial Edge combo!

:O You make fan-art? Can I see?

Nah I can't do teh taunt lewps, I'm pretty new with Tao. She's really something, very different to the slow-execution characters I pick. I've done challenges till the 7th one, stuck on no: 8. I keep getting scared of dropping combos when I go airborne mid-combo, it's really hard, it's like I feel like I'm skydiving and trying to maneuver myself in the air. And I don't want to even do tauntloops, they seem visually unpleasing.

btw, double Cat Spirit2? Isn't that a CT combo? Regardless, I'm gonna copy it down and try it out, thanks, you crazy cat^^

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
11 years ago

I just bought the first one and I love it!! (I suck at it tough). What I like the most is the graphics, and also it is impresive how much detail they've put into every single attack, every special move, and even when your character gets hit, you can tell by their face that they are hurt. And all of this is just the graphics.

As Ben said, there's an impressive amount of moves, and the controls are really tight (shame for the xbots and their D-pad).

I won't be getting this soon, as I just bought the first one, but I can easily recomend this or the first one to anyone, even for people who don't like the genre.


Last edited by hellish_devil on 9/2/2010 10:28:59 PM

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

Who do y0u play as devilosh? Sry, I'm drunk, but add me, I'm FlyingKickPunch. I can teach you things abut this game~ THINGS!! I swear….

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

3D fighters or NoD fighters.

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

2-D fighters ARE 3-D fighters. Time is a dimension.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Time is the 4th dimension, I will play 3D 2D fighters like Street Fighter 4 and the new Mortal Kombat though.

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

Nah, world, that's a shallow thing to say. What matters about fighters is gameplay, not how it is represented. Unless you meant you like 3D fighters as in the ones that allow movement along the z-axis.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

You made a funny but I'm not sure you know it: a "shallow" thing to say… concerning a 2D versus 3D discussion? har har.

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

lol, I didn't even notice. But you get what I meant, right?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Sure, I know lots of people like em. I just can't go back in time like that unless it's for a classic I used to like back in the day.

Rings0fUranus
Rings0fUranus
11 years ago

SPRITES ARE INFINITELY SUPERIOR!!!
…in my humble opinion…

leatherface
leatherface
11 years ago

hey guys, here's an extra code for the God of War; Ghost of Sparta demo for the PSP. 34CK-KKBD-KMEE. it comes out next week on the PSN but one of you guys can play it now. Enjoy.


Last edited by leatherface on 9/2/2010 11:41:44 PM

LegendaryWolfeh
LegendaryWolfeh
11 years ago

Haha, well thank you kindly, downloading it now 🙂 surprised no one else picked it up in that almost 2 hour span.

Oxvial
Oxvial
11 years ago

The dlc characters are 8 bucks damn! , I'm gonna wait more I want to be ready for Castlevania.

btw Ben Yakuza 4 has official box art! and looks sexy has hell!


Last edited by Oxvial on 9/3/2010 12:24:41 AM

sonic1899
sonic1899
11 years ago

That was something I took an issue with. $7.99 for one character (there'll be two more coming as dlc)? Really Aksys games? We all know the nature of Namco Bandai, but not even Yoda or Vader cost that much on SCIV (despite the fact they were console exclusive characters)

dork02840
dork02840
11 years ago

kudos ben. i could easily get lost in the game. i must say i never beat first one. but i also lent it out to someone over a year ago who has yet to give it back. i always got stuck on bakumon. his distortion finish drives me bonkers. you tell the truth when Arc treats this as a labor of love. the creativity in this game and level of story telling to me outshines any current generation sequel to either SF or Tekken. To me this harkens back to Mortal Kombat level story telling. a universe unto itself where every character has a story thread that resonates in other parts of the game, be it whether you are using them or not. i have to confess the thought of buying this before Madden 11 has crossed my mind. this is the first year since i starting buying football games 7 years ago mind you that i have not pre ordered Madden. after your review, NFL might have to be back burner.

Mavfan321
Mavfan321
11 years ago

I'm partial to SSF4 however the online for BlazBlue is nowhere near as laggy. Noel is an awesome character lover her rushdown style.


Last edited by Mavfan321 on 9/3/2010 3:13:36 AM

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

Alright! I was looking forward to this review!

Just a few FYIs, though:
-About Beginner mode, it's mainly there to attract people new to fighters to play, the developers said so themselves. New people can actually play straight away instead of practicing for months, which could discourage most people. Then they get genuinely interested in upping their game, and they would start playing normally.

-There are actually pretty big changes to the system since last time. What they did is change the recovery system (or teching system) from a time-based one to a proration-based one. What this means is: while doing combos, the more the number of hits in the combo, the higher chance they have of escaping that combo, via decreased hitstun and untechable time. In Calamity Trigger, it was time based, where the more time passed since the start of the combo, the more the hitstun and untechable time decreased. They also changed the guard system. Last time it was the Guard Libra system, where the more the opponent blocked your moves consistently without fighting back (called turtling), the more his guard gauge decreased, till he has his guard broken, giving the enemy a free combo. This time around, the Guard Primer system has set primers for each character, which only are removed when hit by specific moves.

-While 3 new characters may seem little, I have to say that they're completely new. And they already released 1 more character via DLC, with 2 left to go.

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

While I agree with most of the review, there are a few things I disagree with:

-Story mode: That is actually the point of story mode, to check out the story. The fights in that mode may be few and far, but it's designed that way, and the story is, like you said, deep, so it's understandable if they take alot of time on the cutscenes. I've often said (well, not here) the story in this game rivals those of JRPGs. And wth Ben, I'm a hardcore fighting fan and I love good long stories too, I'm no twitch gamer.

-Voice-acting: Gonna disagree with you here, the voice acting is one of the best I've heard coming from a Japanese game. I've seen cutscenes from FFXIII where they talk, and this game's voice acting doesn't sound any different from that. And FFXIII is definitely on the better end of the Japanese-games' English-voice-acting spectrum. But, I'll admit, it was a bit better in the last game.

-Soundtrack: The soundtrack's mostly rock, but it's not really similarish. Each song is distinct, and really fits the fighting, and the characters themselves. Unless you meant that it's all rock music (which might seem repetitive to those who aren't really a fan of the genre), in which case I agree with you.

Oh, and Thanks for the review PSXE!! 😀


Last edited by WolfCrimson on 9/3/2010 6:52:24 AM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I didn't say I had a problem with the length an depth of the story, I said pure fighting fans might. And in RPGs, you play a LOT more than you watch; in this, you really don't. And it's a fighting game.

And as for the voice acting…uh…you're insane. They're awful. There are a few exceptions but they're vastly inferior to FFXIII, and certainly to most great Western casts.

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

No way, did you play the same game I did? Because I could swear that the voice-acting is pretty good. I mean, REALLY good. Beats the hell out of WKC's, Eternal Sonata's, and what little I've seen from FFXIII's cutscenes voice acting. I'm racking my brains here trying to remember what instances/which characters have awful voice-acting in blazblue, and I can't come up with anything. And I've played this game (franchise) for a long time Well, except for Noel, but she's a good voice-actor but her voice is just annoying. Can you point out the not-exceptions you speak of?

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

oops, meant to say "beats the hell out of WKC, Eternal Sonata, and is on par with FFXIII"

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Well, I'll tell you what. Try to find a review that actually praises the voice acting.

WolfCrimson
WolfCrimson
11 years ago

Here you go:
1) http://www.thunderboltgames.com/reviews/article/blazblue-continuum-shift-review-for-ps3.html

7th paragraph, 4th line: "… There’s a ton of dialogue and explanations in the Story Mode, but the superb voice acting makes it entertaining. Play Bang for five minutes; his rants about love, justice, and manliness are pure comedic gold …"

2) http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-08-24-blazblue-continuum-shift-review?page=2

6th paragraph, last line:"… Particular credit also goes to the new Story Mode which somehow manages to top Calamity Trigger with a convincing English voice-cast and solid writing."

To be honest, there aren't many reviews out there, and most of them don't mention the voice-acting at all, which is kinda a plus, since it isn't, as you claim, bad enough to be mentioned. Some do mention the voice acting, but they say it's decent, not superb or anything.

Teddie9
Teddie9
11 years ago

I can't comment on this installment since I haven't played it but if the voice acting is the same quality as calamity trigger (same cast hopefully) than I see no reason why it wouldn't be great. Heck I'm pretty sure Arnold praised it in his review of CT.

Ultimate_Balla
Ultimate_Balla
11 years ago

Hot review. I'll get it sometime. . .