Review – Blazblue: Continuum Shift

Blazblue: Continuum Shift
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Zen United
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Fighter, Visual Novel
Release Date: Out Now

The Blazblue franchise has had a rough landing in Europe. The first title, Calamity Trigger, took a year longer than the US version to be released. Continuum Shift took a bit of work to come out too. There were many delays but 4 and a half months later and it’s finally here! Grab your ice car and hit the jump for the full review of Blazblue: Continuum Shift!

Like most fighting games, the Blazblue series has a story tieing events together. However, the home console versions of Blazblue titles like to expand on that story and flesh it out so the player can understand and get to know the characters better. The plot is very confusing to explain and quite hard without some form of spoilers, so I’ll leave the description out. If you’re interested in Continuum Shift for the storyline, I would recommend you track down and play Calamity Trigger first so you have a better understanding of the events.

The Blazblue games play in a similar style to most fighters, with health bars and a gauge for special moves. The series is considered the spiritual sequel to the Guilty Gear franchise, so you’ll notice quite a bit of similarities between the two. Unlike other games such as Street Fighter, Blazblue is a very fast paced game with hundreds of different combos and plenty of aerial combat. As you fight, your heat gauge increases with the damage you’ve dealt and taken. When the heat gauge reaches a certain point, your character will be able to perform a distortion drive, the equivalent of a super move. When certain conditions have been met, your character can unleash their astral heat, a special move that guarantees your win if it hits. Each astral heat results in your opponent being defeated in an over-the-top manner which never fails to satisfy.

Continuum Shift has many different modes for players to try out. There’s story mode, arcade, score attack, training, versus and much more. One of the more interesting modes is the Legion mode, which has been brought over from the PSP title Blazblue: Calamity Trigger Portable. In Legion mode, you work your way through a map fighting against groups of opponents and building your own army as you aim to conquer the map. It’s in no way complicated but it’ll definitely give you a hard time. Really fun time waster in my opinion.

In the same fashion as Calamity Trigger, Continuum Shift’s story mode is presented in the style of a visual novel. Character models are displayed on-screen with scripted text and full voice acting. During your selected character’s story, you will have to make choices on how to advance. What choices you make effects which ending you get, so don’t be surprised if you have to play through again to get the true ending. Battles are dotted around throughout story mode, so it’s not just a case of reading until your eyes bleed.

Of course, arcade mode and versus are there for those who want to jump in on the action. Continuum Shift features a full roster of 15 characters, with four newcomers. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, you have the ability to further expand the roster with 3 new characters. These being Makoto Nanaya, Valkenhayn R Hellsing and Platinum The Trinity, who is currently un-released. With the exception of v-13, all the previous characters from Calamity Trigger are present, with some nice new changes.

With fighting games, the biggest update is by far the changes to characters. In every new game, characters are changed in all sorts of ways. Some are improved (buffed) where as others are toned down (nerfed). It’s extremely difficult to get a perfect balance but Continuum Shift does a pretty good job of keeping things fair. If you’re a veteran Blazblue player then you’ll notice most of the changes immediately. Although it doesn’t stop people from spamming you with Jin’s infamous ice car move.

New to the series is a challenge mode, done in the same style as Street Fighter IV’s trials. Each character, including the DLC fighters, have a set of 10 challenges for you to complete. This is where you’ll learn your characters moves and combos. Challenge mode is exactly what it says on the tin. It will challenge all of your skills and reflexes. The combo inputs can get pretty crazy so practise up. It was an addition that was sadly missing in Calamity Trigger, quite glad it’s finally been added in.

Online multiplayer is a big part of Blazblue, and is where a big chunk of your playtime will come from. Like most online fighters, you have the choice of either player matches, for playing with friends and having a few casual games, or ranked matches for earning points. The game has an interesting way of getting rid of lag. During the start sequence to a match, it’ll lag the animations. But once the match begins, the game plays flawlessly. I have no idea how it works but I’m just gonna say science … or magnets.

As you can easily tell from looking at screenshots and videos, Blazblue has a heavy anime style which results in some pretty flashy visuals. Not only are the backgrounds and stage designs stunning, all the character sprites are hand drawn. It’s hard not to be impressed with the visual flair Blazblue has. The presentation is just top-notch. Although I’m going to assume the anime style is where it gets most of its fanbase from. Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

In a wrap, Continuum Shift is a very impressive piece of work. In just a few days I’ve clocked over 25 hours, which is more than I’ve spent on most games released this year. Newcomers to the Blazblue series will adapt to Continuum Shift fine, as there are several features to help those new to fighting games. I’d still recommend playing Calamity Trigger first if you’re wanting to understand the plot and events. Overall, I would go as far as to say it’s the best fighting game released this year. Stunning visuals, fantastic voice acting and an awesome soundtrack help you enjoy the experience.

Final Score – 9/10

Insanely difficult to get good at, but a very fun game. Blazblue fans both old and new will enjoy what Continuum Shift has to offer. Plenty of content to keep you busy and the DLC characters are fantastic.

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