Before I begin I have to say that this review is from the perspective of someone who hasn't actually played anything since Guilty Gear X2 on PS2, so that means I've not touched Isuka, or even Guilty Gear 2: Overture on Xbox 360 this is the newest version of Guilty Gear I've played since X2.
Anyway, not that is out of the way - Let's Rock!
Few games have grabbed my imagination like Guilty Gear - the brainchild of Daisuke Ishiwatari, the creator of the newer series "BlazBlue" and while his newer series kicks absolute butt, Guilty Gear is the series that has stayed with me the longest in terms of iconic characters, head banging awesome metal soundtrack and bat-guano insane storylines.
The latest release, "Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus" (That's a mouthful!) on PSN and Xbox Live is no exception. They literally packed every little thing they could into this game and it truly is the quintessential Guilty Gear. The entire roster makes an appearance, with A.B.A as the newest addition and the devs even included all of the EX characters with alternate sprites within their alternate movesets! You don't get just 23 characters and 2 unlockable ones, you get 25 characters with 23 of them having an optional alternate playstyle! that's like having a roster of 48! Huge! And they've even added new "Dust" meter burn moves for the characters. Almost like EX attacks that burn 1/4 of your special meter. They're performed by using specific motions plus the "Dust" button instead of your standard face buttons, which adds to a lot of tactical use that was never there even in Guilty Gear X2! And of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the awesome "Insta-kills" are back!
The amazing soundtrack makes a comeback with greats like "Still in the Dark", "Holy Orders", "Suck a Sage", "Haven't You Got Eyes in Your Head?" and, of course, my all-time favourite: "Noontide." Every single one of the tracks in the game is like from the old Street Fighter games, representing a character. With some of them even being rival themes between characters. The beauty of Accent Core Plus is that regardless of who you choose you can select the stage and music separately - you don't have to listen to a certain character's music because you selected them, you're free to pick what you see, hear and play as - all separately! Heck, even Sol Badguy has an alternate selectable voice actor in the game! This is an older title, so I'm willing to forgive some of the voice acting sounds a bit muffled in places, but for the most part, well acted! The sound effects are also brutally explosive and well made!
Accent Core Plus also comes with a whole slew of game modes and replay value! I mentioned before that the game had two hidden characters and 23 EX versions of the characters. Well there are even alternate methods to unlock these! You can go through each character's story mode and unlock them that way, or you can defeat them in one of the alternate challenge modes called "Mission" Mode. The game has a slew of options as well: Standard Arcade mode, M.O.M mode which, if you've ever played Kingdom Hearts II you'll know as "Struggle". You have your standard 1 on 1 against the CPU or a player and get this; a King of Fighters style 3 player team battle mode against the CPU or player as well! Oh - and for those so inclined - there's trophies.
This game isn't out in Europe yet, so the online functionality was pretty limited for me. The only problem minor input lag, still playable but probably on par with Mortal Kombat 9 or Injustice. I would have to wait until the game is out over here to fully see whether the online is as good as BlazBlue's but everything seems to be there that should be there!
One thing that slightly disappointed me is that the game feels made for a HD Television. I played this up at RayG's house and we used a standard CRT TV and it looked all squashed and scaled down due to the developers not removing the vertical side bars for standard 4:3 displays. The game IS 4:3 but has two big vertical bars of artwork (one at each side), framing the action so that it doesn't get stretched into wide screen format. We took the console through and played it on a HDTV and it looked perfect. No biggie, but if you're still using a CRT TV I thought I'd give you a heads up that the artwork isn't removed for it and you may have to mess with the aspect ratio to get it looking anywhere decent.
Overall Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus is an excellent entry into the fighting game library. It packs the most content I've seen in any of Arc System Works games into a package that not only looks and sounds incredible, but more importantly, plays better than most other games in the same genre. There's something here for everyone; Whether you're casual, like myself, playing with friends, having a good time just spamming special moves and seeing who wins while adoring the artwork, sound effects and excellent music - or you're a pro, looking for something new, fast-paced and advanced to chew into and obliterate others online with, I cannot recommend this game highly enough.