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Bleach: Soul Resurreccion (PlayStation 3) artwork

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion (PlayStation 3) review

"One of the most popular shōnen titles in the manga and anime industry right now is Bleach, a story about a boy who obtained soul reaper abilities to protect the ones he loves. You may have caught an episode or two on TV, or seen a volume of the manga in a bookstore, but letís be honest; there isnít a huge demand for anime-based video games in North America. "

One of the most popular shōnen titles in the manga and anime industry right now is Bleach, a story about a boy who obtained soul reaper abilities to protect the ones he loves. You may have caught an episode or two on TV, or seen a volume of the manga in a bookstore, but letís be honest; there isnít a huge demand for anime-based video games in North America. We havenít had much other than Naruto, Gundam, and a couple other smaller adaptations this generation. Itís hard to believe there actually have been over twenty Bleach video games developed because only a minority of those have made it stateside (this will mark the second console title to do so, and the fifth title overall). Who better to adopt Soul Resurreccion than Nis America, a publisher who also has recently breached the anime localization scene? But will this action heavy title be worthy of the Bleach name or something quick to capitalize on the success of the series?

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion asset

Letís get this out of the way right now: if youíre not familiar with Bleach, then Soul Resurreccion is not for you. You will be thrown right into the thick of the story with very little context to explain who you are and how you got the powers of a soul reaper. You donít start from the beginning of the series, either; you are placed around a third of the way through the Arrancar arc. Ichigo and friends find their way into Hueco Mundo, a desolate wasteland filled with hollows, in order to rescue their captured friend Orihime from the hands of Aizen. Have I lost you already? It doesnít get any better, as progression in the ďstory modeĒ is all over the place. One moment youíre a hollowfied Ichigo fighting in one plane of existence, and the next youíre Hitsugaya fighting through Karakura Town. There is no bridge between each event besides some scrolling text before the beginning of each episode.

Any character progression comes in the form of voiced dialogue with subtitles that scroll across the screen during combat. It's attempt on the part of the developers to explain what's going on behind the scenes and to lend some depth to the characters, but the information is out of context and has no apparent relation to what's happening in the game at that moment. The only real way to know what is happening is if youíve followed the Bleach anime and/or manga in Japan, because as of the release of Soul Resurreccion, North America has seen localized releases that cover maybe half the game's story. While the story mode is poorly executed, though, it's still done well enough that hardcore fans will at least have some idea of what is happening. Even then, after completing it once you'll have little incentive to play through it again and you'll probably focus on the various other modes instead.

Besides the story campaign, there are four other modes to unlock. First is the Mission mode, which puts you up against 28 assignments with different factors affecting the gameplay. For example, there is a mission where every hit is a one-hit kill on everyone, including bosses and yourself. In another mission, youíre unable to heal after taking damage. Such restrictions provide a nice change of pace and force you to explore the different ways to best utilize your characters. Other game modes include Time Attack where you traverse an area and defeat the boss as fast as you can, Soul Attack mode where you try and collect as much Soul Points as you can in a set amount of time and Beat Attack mode where you must take down as many enemies as you can before the timer hits zero. Each mode is entertaining in its own way, but the Mission mode is by far the most appealing because it offers the widest diversity.

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion asset

Regardless of the mode you choose, Soul Resurreccion is true to the Bleach franchise in that you win by violently swinging your giant sword around to eradicate everything on the screen. Combat is best compared to a game such as Dynasty Warriors where you are put up against a vast quantity of enemies, but instead of being dropped into a large branching area with multiple boss fights, you'll find yourself progressing along a linear path with walled-off areas until you ultimately arrive at the main baddie. That setup makes for a hack-and-slash game that quickly grows repetitive. The Square and Triangle buttons will be your best friends, with their use interrupted here and there when you throw in a special attack or two.

Although the core combat scheme can get dull, the twenty selective combatants differ enough in how they are played to keep things enjoyable longer than they otherwise would have been. Speed and timing attributes are the factors that will likely decide who you wind up favouring yourself. For example, the timing on Byakuya Kuchikiís attack determines how far follow-up strikes will reach, whereas someone like Stark is an incredibly fast character capable of racking up a high combo while leaving you with a sore thumb afterwards. Some characters fight with projectiles and some fight with blades. Some are slow and some are fast. Each character is unique in one way or another despite the similarities they all share.

Developers and players don't seem to be content with games that fall into only one genre anymore, and you'll find that Soul Resurreccion is not simply an action game. A great addition that makes the game much more enjoyable is the levelling mechanic. As you run through the waves of enemies, you will obtain souls that you can use to level up your characterís health, attack, magic ability and so forth. You move around a grid and purchase stat-enhancing nodes to increase the characterís attributes. Whatís best is that improvements carry over to every single mode. The character progression system also works to reward careful play, with each stage or mission set up to give you a grade based on how well you perform. The more enemies you kill, the better your completion time and so forth, the better the grade you will receive and the better your reward in terms of souls. Think of those souls as experience points: the more you obtain, the stronger the active character will become. With 3500 levels to obtain, this is certainly a feature that will keep the most focused gamers playing for many hours.

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion asset

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is a surprisingly entertaining action RPG that will appeal to its most dedicated fans, but it's weighed down by archaic mission designs and repetitive gameplay. The game should be a treat for any loyal fan, especially since it features a dual audio option and some wonderfully-crafted visuals that superbly represent the anime. If youíre not a fan of the anime, though, this is an incredibly hard sell because it only tells a piece of the story. With a few tweaks to the plot and the mission structure this could have been a great game, but instead we are left with a solid product filled with fan service that only a limited audience will appreciate.


Beck's avatar
Freelance review by Adam Beck (August 14, 2011)

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