PS3 Review – BlazBlue: Continuum Shift

You think by now we would have learned, right? We all rushed to buy to BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger last year, knowing that there would be an inevitable re-release this year. The only problem is we didn’t care… admit it. You bought all the dozens of Guilty Gear re-releases for the PS2 and didn’t care that they might have added one or two characters and a couple of extra modes. Arc System Works, for the most part, makes some of the best 2D fighters around. Even though it doesn’t add the amount of content that Super Street Fighter IV did, with BlazBlue: Continuum Shift,  Arc System Works continues their streak of quality fighters.

If you were to call to BlazeBlue: Continuum Shift a ‘true’ sequel to the original game, you would be way off. Seeing as how much of the game is the same from what hit last year, some people might get the feeling that the game could have been released as DLC, even more so than SSFIV should have been. Where SSFIV added 10 ‘new’ characters, BB:CS only adds three, which brings the games overall total to 14, which is way less than the 28 that SSFIV offers you to choose from, but hey…Street Fighter has over 20 years of characters to choose from as opposed to BlazBlue’s one. Thankfully all 3 characters, Hazama, Tsubki, and u-12 are all welcome additions and are a blast to play as unlike Hakan in Super Street Fighter IV, as you’ll want to learn the basics of these new characters.

The storyline mode is what really makes the game feel like a sequel. The storylines from the first game are continued and help explain more of the backstory for some of your favorite characters and all-new chapters in their journeys of mastering ars magus. Nothing has changed about the story mode though. You still watch barely animated characters talk over a generic background with some generic music and voice overs that range from great to annoying. Thankfully there’s a storyline for every character in the game which helps further extend the replayability for the title. Plus each story has two different outcomes, so for those of you who care about getting the full story will be spending plenty of time doing so.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift adds a nice bit of content to the overall package. An all-new ‘beginner’ mode has been included so that new fans to the series or those who have just joined the world of fighters can actually stand a chance against your hardcore fighter pals. By simply tapping any of the attack buttons repeatedly it links together combos that may require three times the work for a normal player. Seriously, It was so easy using beginner mode that it made winning a breeze. It certainly won’t teach you much about fighters and could give a false sense of entitlement. Why? A skilled veteran of the series is going to stomp you regardless of how fast you can mash the buttons. This is still a welcome addition to the series, but make sure you don’t overlook the tutorial mode if you plan to ‘master’ game.

The new Tutorial mode is instructed by none other than Rachel Alcuard who belittles you at every turn with her infamous ‘better than thou’ attitude. For those of who you just jumped into the world of fighters, get ready to feel like a clutz as she explains everything you will ever need to know pertaining to a fighting game, all the way down to the blatantly obvious stuff. See that number at the top of the screen that is counting down? That’s the timer! Bet you couldn’t have guessed that, eh? I recommend veterans of the fighting game genre to check out the beginners tutorial for some good laughs. Thankfully the tutorial mode has tips for all levels of BlazBlue gamers; from beginners to veterans, there’s something available for all of us to learn and handy tips for you to remember. If you’re looking to learn in the entire in and outs of the game, definitely spend the time learning as much as you can via the tutorial mode as it even describes the strength, strategy, and weaknesses for every character in the game.

Another new addition is the ‘Legion’ mode, which is a feature carried over from the PSP mode. You select your favorite character and will be transported to a ‘grid’ of sorts. Each grid is occupied by a character or group of characters. As you defeated each node, your are able to either draft that character to your team or pass and not choose anyone. The goal of the game is occupy all of the nodes on each level but you have to be careful. If one team demolishes half your roster and your down to one character left that you don’t know how to use all that well, it could be game over for you and your team. Add to the fact that each character that gets banged up during battle has to recharge their health in-between matches, legion mode offers a nice strategy element to it when going into battle. Definitely check it out if you pickup Continuum Shift.

Gameplay has been tweaked here and there, adding new combos and moves to the entire roster of characters. If you played BlazBlue (Or Guilty Gear for that matter) than you know that Arc System knows what their doing when it comes to fast, furious, and addictive 2D fighter gameplay. The new beginner mode can make anyone look like a professional, however really digging your time into the game will make you a badass among friends. Sure matches can be won by randomly smashing them buttons, the game offers a ridiculous amount of depth to its combat system that is just plain insane. Those of you who bought BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger last year are still learning and mastering the combat system. It’s that deep. For example, every character has a heat gauge, however they all work differently. Hakumen can store his via his magatama which allows you to attack and combine combos quicker. Details like this make are one of the reasons why when I think of fighting games based on the gameplay alone, I think of Blazblue and Street Fighter. Sure, Mortal Kombat comes close, BlazBlue is now so balanced and features so much depth to it, its not fair to compare the two. Once you get your BlazBlue on, have fun trying to put it down.

One of the major draws of the game has to be the beautiful 2D HD animation the game features. Characters are beautifully drawn to perfection in splendid 720p HD and everything, and boy do I mean everything is animated down to the last ab on Bang’s stomach. Watch in amazement as Litchi’s uh…’assests’ jiggle about as she just stands there (fan service alert!!!). Unrealistic? Maybe. Detailed down to the last bounce? Absolutely. You don’t feel as if your playing an old-school 2D fighter, but that you’re watching Anime in motion with a vast array of character designs, including Taokaka the cat girl and Arakune the um…shadow monster. For those of you who bought familiar with the series, you know of the beauty I’m talking about here. Those new to the series are in for a treat and will soon realize that 2D graphics aren’t dead and can be done in HD by the right group of passionate developers.

While it’s a bit harder for me to recommend to fans to rush out and buy this re-release unlike I did with Super Street Fighter IV, diehard fans of the series didn’t wait until our review, they bought Continuum Shift the day it hit. For those looking to enter the fray to see what the fuss is all about, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift offers the best ticket to the show. With the addition of the tutorial and beginners mode, you’ll be executing combos like a pro in no time. Fighting game fans from beginners to veterans should give BlazBlue and its great combat system a try and at $40 new, you’re getting a load of content that very few other games in the genre can rival. Now excuse me while I go and dream of the inevitable BlazBlue vs Guilty Gear crossover.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Beautiful 2D HD Graphics that will make your eyes smile.

Fantastic Combat system will keep busy for hours.

Loads of content to explore and enjoy.

9 out of 10