Guilty Gear X2 #Reload
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 9

While most fans would have loved to see a PC port of Guilty Gear Xrd, the latest installment in the series, appear on PC instead of #Reload, it doesn’t mean that it should be dismissed. This game still has just as much to offer as it did ten years ago and fighting game fans that somehow missed out on it are in for a treat. There are a ton of modes that will keep you busy for ages and the huge cast of crazy characters offer something for every fighting style. Considering its age the game has held up extremely well and hopefully garners enough interest to prove that there is a market for more of these games on PC.

Gameplay: A huge character roster to select from and fast paced fights makes for an adrenaline pumping experience.

Graphics: The visuals might be old and 2D, but they still look very impressive and the game is not afraid to take things over the top.

Sound: Some of the character voices can become annoying after extended playing sessions, but the soundtrack is still great

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Guilty Gear X2 #Reload

Developer: Arc System Works Co., Ltd. | Publisher: KISS ltd, Funbox Media Ltd   |Release Date: 2004 | Genre: Action / Fighting |Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

It’s not very often that a new 2D fighting game arrives on Steam, but in the case of Guilty Gear X2 #Reload the “new” part is not exactly applicable. The game was actually released for PC more than ten years ago already, so chances are that fans of the genre will already have played it. Newcomers are in for a treat though as despite the age of the game it is still a great title that manages to impress.

#Reload is the third game in a series where over the top, convoluted storylines involving magic, living weapons called “Gears” and air pirates are par for the course, so attempting to explain the plot would be futile. Fortunately, it all boils down to one-on-one fights where a motley cast of characters beat each other up for personal and professional reasons. Most fighting games either has a small roster or pad things out artificially with the inclusion of some generic characters, but #Reload features 21 of the most unusual combatants you are likely to encounter in the genre. There’s an English time traveler, one-eyed female samurai, yo-yo wielding boy dressed like a girl, scalpel wielding surgeon wearing a brown paper bag as a mask and even a witch using an electric guitar as her primary weapon to name just a few. Most of these characters will be familiar faces to veteran players, but I imagine that there is going to be quite a few raised eyebrows from new players when they first see some of the pugilists available.

Right off the bat #Reload gives you access to eight different game modes. If you want a traditional one-on-one slugfest with opponents before taking on a boss then Arcade mode is the place to go. Survival mode on the other hand challenges you to see how far you can get with 500 opponents queuing up to take you down. For some smack talking and plot revelations along with your combat head to the Story mode. Then there’s Mission mode which comes with preselected characters, opponents and handicaps for you to overcome. Also noteworthy is the Medal of Millionaires mode where performing combos literally knocks medals out of your opponent which you can then collect for bragging rights. Of course, the obligatory Training mode is also available to practice your moves as well as a Versus mode for squaring off against either a second player or the CPU. If this wasn’t enough already, some intrepid soul has figured out a way to patch the game in order to allow for online play. This netplay fan patch is not included with the game, but grabbing the 160MB file online will add the online multiplayer, replays and a palette editor which makes it worth the effort.

All of this would have been for naught if the actual game wasn’t fun to play, but Guilty Gear X2 #Reload certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. There is obviously a steep learning curve involved if you are not a fan of the genre, but once mastered there is a lot of fun to be had here. The game is button masher friendly to a certain degree, so if you just want to have some fun without investing a lot of time in the practice mode you can simply drop the difficulty level. You might want to avoid the Arcade mode though as even on the easier settings the final boss is brutal. It’s worth learning all the basics though as there is more to the game than meets the eye.

Combat is quite fast paced with plenty of flashy moves which means that a controller obviously comes highly recommended. Most characters wield weapons which can range from swords and scalpels to hair and teddy bears. If this sounds bizarre it’s because it is, but it all makes sense in the wonderfully twisted world of Guilty Gear. Players that like to familiarize themselves with the rules of the fighting games that they are playing will notice that #Reload has a thing for gauges. There’s a “Guard” gauge which indicates how much you are blocking and penalizes you for being too defensive as well as “Burst” gauge for moves such as combo breakers. Most important of them all though is the “Tension” gauge which increases as you inflict or take damage as well as from playing aggressively. This gauge is your ticket to dead angle attacks, fortress defenses and most entertaining of all instant kills which can destroying an opponent no matter how much health they have left. It is of course possible to play the game without paying attention to any of these gauges and moves, but doing so will mean missing out on a lot of cool stuff, so it’s worth making the effort.

The fighting system uses buttons for punching, kicking, slashing and heavy slashing along with stuff like air throws and taunts. You can also perform dashes by double tapping a direction and double jump while in the air. Blocking is handled by pulling back on the directional input instead of using a dedicated button although you can also hold the punch and kick buttons to sacrifice some of the tension gauge in return for superior blocking. Overall the fighting system works well and still feels great despite the age of the game. Some characters feel a little stiff to control, but there is enough variety here that everyone should be able to find a fighter that they feel comfortable with.

What surprised me the most was how well the visuals of the game has held up despite their age. You might be stuck with a resolution of 640×480, but even played on a huge, high definition screen the game still looked like something straight out of the arcade. You can set the configuration settings before starting the game and options include the ability to play in window or full screen mode, setting the fps to 30 or 60 and enabling aspect ratio fixation or not. The latter adds black borders on all sides of the screen when played in full screen mode, but the stretching that occurs without it really doesn’t look that bad to be honest. It could just be that I personally love 2D visuals in fighting games, but take a look at the screenshots and judge for yourself. Stage backgrounds are bright, colorful and packed with lots of neat little animations and there’s even two tiny representations of the fighters mimicking their exact moves shown next to the health bars. About the only thing I can criticize about the visuals is that they obviously look a little jagged when stretched to full screen mode.

Guilty Gear features a rocking soundtrack and some nice Japanese voice acting but, to be honest, some of the voice samples can become very annoying. English subtitles are provided for all the story bits, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on anything. The game also includes the 2 disc original soundtrack which is perfect for listening to using the new Steam music player. With great tracks such as Holy Orders, Feel A Fear and Awe of She the soundtrack comes highly recommended. Unfortunately the game doesn’t feature any achievements, but some nifty Steam Trading Cards have been added.

Although Guilty Gear X2 isn’t the most recent entry in the series, or indeed even the most recent updated version of the game, it is a step in the right direction for bringing more Guilty Gear titles to PC. Players spoiled by flashy new titles such as Mortal Kombat and Injustice might scoff at the hand drawn visuals of Guilty Gear, but give the game a chance and you’ll find plenty to keep you hooked. It has a large roster of characters, over the top moves and a fighting system that rewards practice. The fact that it is getting a bit long in the tooth by this point does nothing to diminish any of that.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • Processor: Pentium III 700Mhz
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: 64MB or better
  • DirectX: Version 8.1
  • OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • Processor: Pentium III 700Mhz
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: 64MB or better
  • DirectX: Version 8.1

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