Arc System Works’ follow up to Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, finally has a new entry with BlazBlue: Central Fiction, bringing the high-caliber 2D fighter to the PS4 for the first time. Featuring new fighters and returning faces, a new story campaign, and plenty of over-the-top and flashy one on one action, is the latest entry in the series good enough to compete in the packed fighter genre and grab people’s attention?
BlazBlue: Central Fiction
Developed by Arc System Works / Published by Aksys Games
Available on the PS3 and PS4. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Aksys Games
BlazBlue: Central Fiction is the fourth entry in the series, and takes place right after the events of Chrono Phantasma. After the defeat of the Imperator Izanami and Takemikazuchi, and after Ragna the Bloodedge awakens as the Black Beast and wounds Jin and Noel, a great evil still stirs. Ragna, wounded and now amnesiac, is the only hope of stopping it. With everyone – both good and bad – looking for the Grim Reaper, he must be found in time by the good guys to stop the new menace, while avoiding capture from the others.
Being the fourth entry in a lore heavy fighting game series, there’s a lot of concepts and characters that newcomers will probably have a difficult time deciphering and understanding, but fans will easily get into it thanks to the familiar faces. The story is a text heavy affair that has players wadding through walls of it before any fighting is done, but it’s an entertaining and well developed plot that’s fun and action-packed. Be prepared to do a lot of reading – as there’s plenty of chapters to go through, but overall it’s a good time.
But alas, who really focuses on a fighter’s plot (I know, a lot of people do)? The main focus is of course pounding your opponent into oblivion, and BlazBlue: Central Fiction is full of opportunities to do so. As before, players step into 2D stages and engage in solid and pulse-pounding one on one combat, using punches, kicks, air dashes, combos, drives and plenty of super moves to take out your opponent. Button mashing will only get you so far because the combat here is very technical and very fast, with players having tons of combos, strategies and speed to get the better of their foe, though Stylish Mode allows newcomers to easily string together combos, special attacks and distortion drives with the tap of a couple buttons. Thankfully the controls are solid, so nailing those epic combos is just a matter of practice, and the game’s button scheme is effective both with a standard controller or fight stick.
There’s a couple of new additions to the deep combat system in BlazBlue: Central Fiction, further providing players with offensive options. Exceed Accel works sort of like a cancel of the attack buffing Overdrive ability, by having players deal loads of damage through a normal move but sacrificing the duration of it. Then there’s Active Flow, which rewards players that are offensive and play well by slightly powering up their attacks and abilities, as opposed to the negative penalty that debuffs players if they defend too much or don’t attack. It also buffs the Exceed Accel to be even more damaging, making both additions an important part of a player’s skillset.
Then there are seven new characters to play as: Hibiki Kohaku, Naoto Kurogane, Nine the Phantom, Izanami, Es, Susano’o, and Mai Natsume, bringing the roster to 35 characters, and each bringing a slew of new abilities and strategies to the table. These new characters are a blast to play with, and will have fans of the series dig the new combat opportunities that appear with them, though unfortunately the latter three are DLC characters, and require players to fork over some cash to acquire them. Can’t have them all for free I guess.
The rest is fairly straightforward, with returning and new gameplay modes, such as Practice, Tutorial and Challenge Mode to get players familiar with the combat systems, and Story Mode and Battle Mode allowing them to battle until their hearts are content. Battle mode brings your standard Arcade and Vs. modes, while also bringing Grim of Abyss – a sort of light RPG/fighting hybrid mode, a score attack mode and finally a Speed Run mode. Then there’s also Online play, where players can match up with others and see who’s better in a unique, chibi-styled lobby, and from my experience so far, the netcode is pretty solid, though of course you’ll want to be careful who you play with, as ping always has the last word.
At the end of the day, BlazBlue: Central Fiction is a solid entry in Arc System Works’ 2D fighting game series. Bringing new characters, additional mechanics, and a long, entertaining plot, fans of the genre and series wouldn’t want to pass on this stylish fighter.
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