"Though I've played some of the games in the past, I wouldn't call myself a fan of the Guilty Gear series. I don't hate the series, I just never had the opportunity to really dive into it. However, I do acknowledge it has a unique and absurd cast of characters, fluid animation, and an interesting fighting system. And while I may not be a fan, I still understand the shock the actual fans of the series felt when they found out that Guilty Gear 2: Overture wasn't going to be a fighting game. ..."
Though I've played some of the games in the past, I wouldn't call myself a fan of the Guilty Gear series. I don't hate the series, I just never had the opportunity to really dive into it. However, I do acknowledge it has a unique and absurd cast of characters, fluid animation, and an interesting fighting system. And while I may not be a fan, I still understand the shock the actual fans of the series felt when they found out that Guilty Gear 2: Overture wasn't going to be a fighting game. I mean, that's like giving Mega Man fans a role-pla... oh.
Curiouser and curiouser about this unusual change of pace, I decided to get the title once it came out. Which, I found out, was the previous week. When I dove into the game's campaign mode, I realized what they were attempting when they made the switch: they wanted to tell a story. It's really understandable when you consider just how detailed the Guilty Gear backstory is. And with fighting games, there's just only so much plot you can give away in just character profiles, "cutscenes" before and after fights, and the endings. Unfortunately, for those who were expecting a full-blown cast from previous games, there's only a very small amount of recognizable characters appearing in this sequel. Like four. Specifically, it focuses on Sol Badguy and Ky Kiske, and how they handle a new threat endangering both humans and Gears. Sorry, Bridget fans!
With this emphasis on plot, you're probably thinking they turned GG2 into a RPG, right? Nah, the developers probably didn't want to alienate their fans, so they picked a genre that was pretty similar to fighting games: the manly brawler genre; you know, the offspring of the beat 'em up genre, where you control one character and kick the crap out of an army of hundreds at the same time? Dynasty Warriors, Kingdom Under Fire, Ninety-Nine Nights, you name it. And with that in mind, you likely have this image of Sol beating the snot out of enemies constantly surrounding him.
Well, yeah... in a sense. The developers decided to take an interesting approach to manly brawlin'. To put it bluntly, it's a manly brawler with real-time strategy elements thrown into it. You don't have to wrap your head around that one, because that's exactly how it sounds. You'll have your base, called a Masterghost in this title, in one section of the map, and the enemy will have their base in another location of the map, and your goal is the destruction of their Masterghost under the allotted time limit. You probably think it would be as simple as having your character run over to their base and destroy it, but it's a bit more complicated than that.
Masterghosts have barriers surrounding them, so your character won't have much effect on them. That's where servants and capture units come into play. These two types of helpers are the only ones that can break the barrier, but getting them to the Masterghost is where all your effort into these missions will be put into. Scattered throughout each map are smaller, neutral Ghosts, which you can take control of. This is very important to do, because once you capture one, your capture units will spawn from them, who will then move to the nearest Ghosts to capture those. This is extremely helpful, because it pushes your capture units closer and closer to your opponent's Masterghost, where they can destroy the barrier. It also helps make the barrier weak the more Ghosts you end up capturing.
Again, it won't be as easy as it sounds, because the enemy is doing the exact same thing, and the capture units aren't the fighting type (though, they try). That's how servants help out. These are fighting types that you actually have a semblance of control over, where you can order them to any Ghost on the map, preventing the enemy's army from stealing one of your captured Ghosts. Ultimately, however, it's up to your character to do most of the fighting. While the servants do a good job at keeping the enemy at bay, you'll have to use your own character to actually push them back or prevent them from overpowering your forces at certain Ghosts. It's quite a workout, because you constantly have to purchase servants, order them around the map, see which ghosts are in danger, and do most of the fighting yourself. And then there's the time limit, which is an actual threat if you take things slow.
These stages are actually quite entertaining to play, and is a refreshing change of pace from just mindlessly killing hundreds of foes in other titles. It doesn't hurt that you're playing them in some pretty environments. While I wouldn't call them great, compared to other manly brawlers that normally take place on very basic maps, like on a field of grass or in a forest, it's something. When was the last time you saw a rollercoaster inside a cave in a manly brawler? Or how about a battle taking place on a base floating on the ocean? It's a shame, too... because there's only four of these actual stages in the campaign. The first half of the campaign are filled with tutorial stages, explaining how to play the game, the middle part of the campaign are where most of the four stages are contained (it also includes a horrific fetch quest mission), and the last half of the campaign is just one boss fight after another.
Really, the story is the main focus to the point that the actual game comes off like a burden sometimes. When you start a mission, you get a cutscene first, then you start the actual mission, where the characters continue to chat, and when you beat the mission, you're treated to another cutscene. Afterwards, the next chapter is normally just a cutscene. When that's done, you start another stage, where you'll sit through another cutscene and... yeah. There's a Free Mission mode, where you assume would have much more stages to play with, but it's just the campaign missions mixed with tutorials and boring as hell survival stages.
There's also the online mode, which the instruction manual claims is the main mode for GG2. If it really is, then ouch. The place is almost a ghost town. No one is hardly on, and whenever there is, it's usually just two or three people. Which means you'll be fighting against the same two or three people over and over again. It doesn't help that they're Japanese players, who received the game a year earlier, which makes them really, really experienced. You will get your ass kicked quite a number of times... It also doesn't help that they usually want to play a team match (two against two), and you just see them sit in a lobby by themselves, waiting for a very long time.
The developers took a big risk in making Guilty Gear 2: Overture different, a risk they should have put more effort into. It's not a terrible game, but it really comes off like it was the first time they tried doing something like this. Hopefully, they'll learn from their mistakes when they go on to make Guilty Gear 2X Reload Petit Strikers or Guilty Gear 3: 20th Anniversary Edition.
Community review by pickhut (November 02, 2008)
Alternative tagline: Hit the Road, Jack.
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