Thursday, 6 March 2014

Review: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (PC)

 BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

Released half a decade ago on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger arrives on PC with more of a whimper than a bang but the underlying fighting and the overlying balls-out craziness of the characters  seriously, has wasabi been replaced by peyote in Japan?  is present no matter what the reception was like. Honestly, the game arrived with such fanfare that there's a picture of rolling tumble weed on Metacritic where the list of critic reviews should be.

The game deserves more attention than tumble weeds because it's more than a curio; it's more than something you might pick-up and quickly put back on the shelf as you peruse the wares at a joke shop, even though it certainly looks like a novelty item.

Bouts are announced with "Rebel 1!" then "Rebel 2!" instead of a simple "Fight!" Menus and special moves are layered with so many animated, flashing and moving parts, the character select screen might be enough to set off epileptic seizures. Now, if Ragna the Bloodedge and Rachel Alucard are battling it out and one of them activates a special move... When you wake up you may find yourself in a very white room with a black monolith slab at the foot of the bed. The short of it is, if you cut this game, the essence of Japan would ooze from the wound. That essence would then turn into a school girl dressed in a floppy catsuit and attack you.

The only rote part of the game is the included modes: Versus, Story, Arcade, Training, Score Attack, and a Gallery option.

The Story mode ostensibly exists to flesh out the rich plot line of the BlazBlue universe but it makes about as much sense as a fighting manual for Pacifists. Each character plot line is carved out in a separate section and can be played in any order, but none of them figure into offering entertainment in the strictest sense unless you're one to snigger over possible double entendres. Maybe there's some appeal to exploring the story, but that appeal doesn't extend to
this writer because I couldn't care less about what the Calamity Trigger is. Most will be content to stick with the Arcade and Versus modes.

Locally though because there's no online play.

For whatever reason, the online multiplayer, which was included with PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, has been stripped from this version. Likely a cost saving measure. It's not missed, so good call on the part of Arc System Works.

The fighting itself offers a good back and forth. This writer had better success with the keyboard controls, but the gamepad is probably a better way to play. Button mashing will actually allow the novice player to win a fair number of bouts, but it really is with a little practice and some special attention to the various gauges, and understanding the risk/reward with an "Instant Block" or executing a "Distortion Drive" that a player will be able to match reflexes against the more difficult CPU (or second player) opponents.

Visually appealing and off-kilter enough to remind even the worst cynics that games can actually have a fun core and work out from there — rather than building something then trying to figure out the fun part — BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger offers an interesting distraction, which might not be enough for hardcore fighting fans (who probably played the game to exhaustion years ago), but I'm not one of those people so I actually had some fun with the game. And for $10 on Steam... it's an affordable distraction.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Looks extremely good
- Depth is there for people looking for it
- $10!

The Bad:
- Missing online multiplayer may upset ardent fans
- Story mode is best avoided (unless you enjoy double entendres and not-so-subtle innuendo

Score: 7.5 / 10