Review – Blazblue Continuum Shift EXTEND

What’s good, everyone? Joshua Evo back again with another game review for you all. If it hasn’t been painfully obvious to everyone, I am a fighting gamer. Now I’ll give you guys a second to let that sink in. We good? Ok. Going back to the matter at hand, the game I’m covering is the most recent installment in a quirky but solid fighting franchise that is simultaneously popular and  overlooked. On a personal note, this is a pretty special one since it’s happens to be the series that first inspired me to enter the fighting game community. Today’s review is on Blazblue Continuum Shift: EXTEND

Review conducted on the Playstation 3 version of the game.

PRESENTATION: 4/5

Blazblue, Guilty Gear and King of Fighters are a handful of marquee titles that fall into a category that is becoming rarer in recent years; hand-drawn 2D. This hearkens back to the days of games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. While the trend seems to be leaning more towards the usage of 3D character models over 2D hand-drawn sprites on account of factors like more fluidity in movement, the older styles have their own charm and in the case of BBCS:EX, are showcased exceedingly well. The appearances of the cast hasn’t changed too much in the three or so years that the franchise has been stateside, but they remain the same otherworldly looking, memorable characters they always were.  The sprites move about and battle one another in the same crisp and striking fashions that’s to be expected from the franchise. The 3D rendered backgrounds are also striking, as they offer a sharp but refreshing contrast to the comparatively crude character sprites. Environments are range from lush and inviting to dark and foreboding and each stage complements its corresponding character very well. The animated cutscenes are superbly done, serving their purpose as both attractive eye candy and story telling device. The brilliantly rock-heavy soundtrack by Guilty Gear mastermind Daisuke Ishiwatari does as much to add personality to the characters as their backstories and  appearances do. From a presentation standpoint, BBCS:EX more or less offers the same things as its predecessors but has enough small changes peppered throughout to remain fresh and interesting.

GAMEPLAY: 5/5

While the core game play and its elements and mechanics remain largely untouched, there have been a considerable amount of additional modes game options added to enhance the experience. Of course, there is the traditional Arcade and Local and Online VS modes, but the game as a whole is bolstered with the addition of new modes like Unlimited Mars and Abyss mode and the continuation of Blazblue’s “surprisingly-detailed-and-engaging Story Mode. Unlimited Mars is an extension of Score Attack mode from the first two games. In Score Attack, the player is pitted against AI controlled characters of a much greater difficulty setting than normal. Unlimited Mars expands on this by using the overpowered or “Unlimited” versions of several characters as forms of opposition. This mode can be both frustratingly hard and very compelling as it forces you to develop your game to keep up and complete the challenge. Abyss Mode is a carryover from the handheld versions of Blazblue: Continuum Shift II. In this take on the game, the player must quest to the bottom of Kagutsuchi, battling several characters, boss characters and unlimited characters across increasing levels of difficulty. As you progress, you are able to increase your characters’ attributes in battle and are able to accrue money to spend in the Shop, where more power-ups and abilities are available to aid you in your quest. Story Mode is also given new enhancements in the form of extra dialog and cutscenes to drive the story along. Additionally, the four previous DLC characters have been incorporated into the Story Mode flow. Finally, a retooled version of Calamity Trigger’s Story Mode has been included for consistency and to offer new players the entire experience up to the current point in time. As if to tie the individual games in the series together even further, the game will ask new users if they wish to import their saved data files from the previous game, at which point the game will continue on from there. Even though the Blazblue franchise has had a good record of great netcode, online game play was gziven some performance tweaks for a better overall online play experience. 2v2, 3v3 and 2v4 Team Battles have also been included  for a little more variety and thanks to the robust connectivity, these new features can be experienced freely and without too much fear of lag or rampant disconnecting (ragequitters notwithstanding).

OVERALL: 5/5

Even while in the shadow of titans like Street Figher IV, Soul Calibur and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a largely niche game like Blazblue is still able to shine through with its enhanced single player features, exceptional online play and unique cast of characters and robust-for-a-fighting-game story mode. Add to this some very solid mechanics and what you have is an absolute “must-buy” for fans and followers of the genre and certainly the franchise.

The standard and limited collector’s editions are available now and I’ve posted a video detailing and unboxing at the DRE YouTube channel and as always, thanks again for all your support!

FINAL SCORE: 14/15

–Evo out.

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