Video game review: Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- is all about aggression
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Arc System Works
The post-Christmas period is a graveyard for video games, a place where small-fry producers and near-failed projects sit side by side on store shelves. It makes sense that the Guilty Gear developers would dump their latest offering during the period, considering that modern fighting games have lost ground to highly realistic shooters and massive open worlds. But that doesn't mean Xrd isn't any good.
Available in Japan's game arcades since last February, this console edition of Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a Sony exclusive, for the PlayStation 3 and 4. Like the recent releases of once-popular, now-forgotten fighting brethren Street Fighter IV and Tekken Revolution, Xrd strips things back to the series' roots and that's immediately apparent in the old-school visuals.
But make no mistake: the game may look like a classic 2D button masher, but Xrd is about as fresh as a next-gen fighter can get, the developers cleverly using 3D cel-shaded animation to create an incredible balance between retro and modern. At times, it feels as if you're in the middle of a heated anime TV show battle, especially with Gear's characteristically unique system of attack.
Xrd is all about the aggression and fresh-faced campers with a wait-it-out plan will be sorely disappointed: your Tension Meter only builds through constant rushes and quick-fire movements, and slowing things down will eventually empty the gauge. Each character has their own particular skills and, more than in most fighting franchises, choosing wisely here is often the key between a win and loss.
Thankfully, Guilty Gear is renowned for character creativity and things are no different in Xrd, with a total of 17 fighters included. The heavy rock'n'roll theme of previous releases has been retained, with such classic spiky-haired punks as Sol Badguy and I-No back in the fold. But other imaginative additions include Faust, a mad doctor sporting a comically massive scalpel, and Bedman, a disabled kid in a giant mecha suit.
Xrd offers endless competitive brawls with a buddy by your side or some faceless enemy halfway across the world, a classic approach to gaming that's being forgotten as the gaming world grows more complicated.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a solid fighter. Not particularly innovative, but solid. And every once in a while, we all need a good button-mash.