Review – BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II

Review BlazBlue Continuum Shift II 2
Essentially an updated, albeit portable, version of the console original, Continuum Shift 2 brings more of the same 2D fighting flash to series fans… but does this update bring enough to the the table to warrant the purchase?

The answer to that question depends on what kind of fighting game player you are. On one side of the argument, this portable update of the PS3/360 original would be the perfect way to get introduced to the series. It’s a near-flawless handheld recreation that boasts smooth animation, brilliant 2D sprites, tight controls, and even throws in the original game’s DLC characters.

These new-comer perks are also the biggest detriment to series diehards; there are just far to few updates to the console original, aside from the character DLC and a new game mode, to be considered a must have.

For the uninitiated, BlazBlu is a highly stylized Japanese 2D one-on-one fighting series that was birthed in the arcade. A spiritual successor to Ark System Work’s Guilty Gear 2D fighting franchise, BlazBlue presents a (mostly) balanced and deeply technical fighting game experience.

Continuum Shift’s several modes, such as Story Mode, Arcade, Challenge (complete missions and earn bonuses), Time Attack, Legion, and ad-hoc online all make their return to the title. In fact, only one new mode has been added; Abyss. This is essentially a survival mode in which you slug your way through opponents, occasionally facing off against powered-up characters that act as sub-bosses. Progressing through this mode nets you stat-boosting items and rewards.

A truly welcome additional is an incredibly extensive (and by that token, sometimes tedious) tutorial mode. The tutorial covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques. It is almost fully voiced and provides hours of optional instruction that offer a very helpful starting point for first time players.

BlazBlu: Continuum Shift 2 is a highly technical fighter that can seem a bit overwhelming at first. It plays very fast and knowledge of the mechanics are a must for success (I.E., button mashers need not apply). Some characters play easier than others, and the trickier characters could easily take dozens of hours to master their full potential.

There are a plethora of special attacks, such as the character-specific Distortion Drives, and Counter Assaults, most of which are governed by the Heat Gauge. The Heat Gauge fills when you take or deal damage, and also when perfect blocks are scored. Additionally, each character has a unique Astral Heat which is a screen filling finishing maneuver.

The visual style of the game itself is almost as overwhelming as the fighting mechanics, and that is meant as a good thing on both accounts. The characters are flashy, bright, expertly developed and detailed, and are over-flowing with personality and a certain unique Japanese charm.

The story of Continuum Shift 2 is almost a complete write-off, with so many inter-character relationships and allusions to the previous title that I found myself a bit lost. The story is told in bits and pieces through the lens of each character you play through the story mode as; the ultimate goal being to put get a glimpse of the larger picture together by completing the game with each character. There are both false and true endings scattered amongst the characters, which further undermine the plot and will undoubtedly leave the average player confused.

Like all fighter games, full comprehension of the story (or lack there-of) is secondary. What really matters in fighting games is depth, balance and the fun factor, and BlazBlu certainly delivers in these departments. The story and mythos of BlazBlu is there for anyone wishing to delve into the game and glean 100% story completion from each character

BlazBlu Continuum Shift is certainly not the sequel fans had hoped for, but it is an excellent way to play this dynamic and challenging franchise on the go while we wait for a true console successor.


Developer
Arc System Works

Publisher
Aksys Games

System
PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS (PlayStation Portable Reviewed)

Modes
Singleplayer, Ad Hoc Multiplayer

Release Date
May 31, 2011

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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