Title: Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign-
Platform: Arcade, PS3, PS4, Windows, Steam

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Fighter
Players: Single player, Local & Online Versus

Written by Whistler 16th December 2015

Hey under a year, colour me impressed that’s like 2 years earlier than usual, (okay petty anger towards Arc System Works’ releasing of PC ports out of the way). Perhaps I’m in the minority with this opinion but I’ve always felt that the fighting genre is probably one of the most unwelcoming in gaming. Now this isn’t to do with their communities as almost any fighting game has some form of community willing to teach newcomers (whilst grinding them into the ground sometimes), but rather that the difference in skill level becomes immeasurably obvious which can often sully anyone’s interest in a title when met with crushing defeat so early. However if you’re one to brave the baptism by fire then the these fighters can also be some of the most rewarding experiences to behold as your skill shines through with experience giving a real sense of progression.

If you were one of the many saddened by the lack of a proper GG title after XX Accent Core to burn your hands then you’ll be glad to know that the gasoline is ready for some proper flames. Be wary though, while it might be just my timidity towards the genre but (the impossible to pronounce on the first try) Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign- is a rock solid fighter that doesn’t shy away from cranking it to 11 in a heartbeat.

Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign- continues on from GG 2: Overture, a young woman known as Ramlethal Valentine has declared war upon the world (and since the last time a Valentine made a similar declaration resulted in an onslaught in the kingdom of Illyria) thusly setting in motion the call to battle for various fighters.

There’s far more going on even at the surface levels of Xrd’s plot but alas to fully comprehend it you would likely to be clued up on Guilty Gear’s decade’s worth of narrative so might be best to catch up on some Youtube videos to truly appreciate the story.

Shock horror, Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign- is a 2.5D one-on-one fighting game that wears anime on one sleeve and heavy metal on the other. Guilty Gear however feels like a very different beast amongst the majority of the most well-known fighters out there. Its lightning paced style makes the others seem like sluggish brawls, you're either relentless or get trampled underfoot, it’s do or die. As to be expected of Arc Sys, Xrd’s roster boasts a unique and dynamic line up of combatants.
Though it is a shame that the roster has seen some serious cutbacks with a roster of seventeen in total (two of which are DLC and the other unlockable) being next to the smallest roster GG has had besides the initial GG and Xrd’s arcade release. While it is a shame that there are several absences from the roster such as Jam Kuradoberi and Testament (though I will sleep better with less Robo-Ky’s) there’s still plenty of variety on offer to fit your playstyle.
The roster still consists of signature characters Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, Axl Low, May, Milia, Venom, I-No, Faust and of course everyone’s bane Faust and Eddie. Stimulating the line-up are new bloods: Bedman, a super intelligent man strapped to a weaponized hospital bed, Xrd’s arcade mode boss Ramlethal Valentine, her sister Elphelt Valentine and appearing in his first fighting iteration Sin Kiske, the muscle super human ten year old. The new fighters do a good enough job to add to the variety and offer something fresh for veterans to the series but I must say that I found the new character designs incredibly lacking in quality compared to the returning cast or previous iterations.

Thankfully if you enjoyed the faster pace of previous Guilty Gear iterations you’ll likely find yourself right at home as you familiarize yourself with GG’s expansive and deep mechanics. Of course elements such as the Tension meter are as essential to victory as always, where next to all actions will demand or generate Tension allowing you to tap into your chosen fighter’s more potent attacks and utilize various strategic abilities.

Other mechanics return such as the Burst; once charged Bursts can be executed while your opponent is pummelling your face in order to effectively cancel their combo and knock them back. Also returning is arguably one of the most important commands to learn, the Roman Cancel can be performed hit the brakes on your attacks to allow you to dive into another attack chaining together otherwise impossible combos at the cost of 50% of the Tension meter.

Xrd –Sign- mixes things up a bit by also throwing in Blitz Shields and Danger Time, the former is an ability that with precise timing (and at considerably cost to your Tension meter) allows you to both block an oncoming attack then repel your opponent leaving them open for you go on the offensive. The later, Danger Time is initiated when both character’s strong attacks collide starting a countdown where all damage is increased for a limited time. It’s these little additions that keep GG feeling fresh yet familiar offering the same high octane levels of adrenaline as you go head to head in spectacles of sheer metal brilliance.

What is Guilty Gear Xrd’s most striking elements lies within its aesthetics, despite being a fighter that first released on arcade cabinets over a year ago Xrd’s visuals outstanding. Utilizing cel shading the game plays out as a 2D fighter but is in actual fact fully 3D and uses the 2D plane to faithfully render GG’s previous notable visual style. Character models are striking, colours are vibrant and effects are flashy with dynamic camera angles for special moves and DBZ style air launchers that turn fights into awesome spectacles without overloading the senses or slowing down the gameplay. That being said though animations in certain areas do look strange, each character’s intro is key framed by hand without interpolation (without in-between frames for you not savvy) and so don’t seem to animate as smoothly creating rather jagged movement between frames.

It’s a small complaint but stands more to say how smooth ingame animations are that they really stand out upon inspection. GG’s signature sound design is present and is supplied with a fresh list of heaving hitting metal tunes to get you into the mood for a fight and is certainly best experienced at cranked up volumes.

I will say though that I hope they clean up certain parts of the visuals in the PC version, for one menus and the ingame hud look atrociously pixelated. What became immediately noticeable was the poorly encoded files for certain cutscenes (likely ported from the PS3 version is my guess) that are a real eye sore when shown between the game’s otherwise great visuals.

It’s a shame though that despite the stellar visuals on display that it’s not enough to detract Xrd’s poor story presentation. Of course nobody expects arcade mode to have in-depth plot to it but it is required for some of Xrd’s story. It’s recommended you dive into arcade mode where after completing all eight or so stages with a couple of characters (or just Sol really) you can then direct yourself to the story mode.
Though the term mode is a stretch as it’s presented in a series of cutscenes coming in at roughly three-hours where you just sit and watch, which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have the jrpg text box prompts (you don’t need to actual press a button to continue but it would have looked a hell lot better if present more like a movie).

At the moment though online is poor to pathetically bad, where ranked matches seem to cause crashes or hang ups (often I was forced to kill the exe file as I’d be stuck cancelling a search). Despite having a relatively good connection I was only able to play a very small handful of matches without noticeable lag.
The game also has replay sharing but it’s rather obtuse in how it handles, as there’s no central database to view videos on your preferred fighter of choice and you can only download replays from ones players have shared on their profiles. The devs have already said they’re working on patching out these issues though so hopefully Xrd can gain some real traction and a solid PC gaming community.

Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign- doesn’t exactly bring anything revolutionary to the genre and can still be pretty intimidating for casual players but it’s still an absolute blast to play still offers up plenty fast paced adrenaline kicking enjoyment. Veterans who have been waiting since the series’ rather lengthy hiatus might be a bit let down but hopefully we’ll see Xrd make more of an impact in the future (and hopefully won’t take as long for pc instalments, hint hint).

Adrenaline fuelled gameplay,
Dynamic fighters,

Excellent and unique visuals,

Rocking Soundtrack.

Poor story presentation,

Disappointing Online,
Some noticeable eye sores in UI.

Final verdict,

Guilty Gear Xrd –Sign- signs off with a 8.5/10.

Written by,

Whistler Morbid        Play Morbid Play Morbid Play Morbid Play - Articles Morbid Play -  Reviews Morbid Play - Staff