Review | BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
Format: PS3/Xbox 360 | Genre: Beat em up | Publisher: Zen United | Developer: Arc System Works | Release date: 03/12/2010 | Price: £39.99
Jennifer Allen learns to fight back with BLAZBLUE: CONTINUUM SHIFT.
BACK IN the day, I adored beat em ups. Street Fighter 2 was the king for me, and the love for beat em ups just turned deeper and deeper thanks to the likes of Tekken and Soul Blade. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the infatuation vanished and I never really went back. Enter BlazBlue: Continuum, a game that I feared would go flying over my head with its hardcore fighting prowess and mostly just intimidate me. Instead it felt just like the welcome back I needed.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing a huge amount about the BlazBlue series. Calamity Trigger took a year after the Japanese release to hit European shores in 2009 and it still didn’t make anywhere near as much of an impact as it did in the East. At this early juncture it’s difficult to ascertain whether Continuum Shift will succeed commercially, but it definitely deserves to.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift manages to tread the path of being both welcoming to newcomers yet intensely challenging to old hands. Everything about it is tremendously fast paced and tactical in nature, yet not intimidatingly so. A lot of this is down to not only the well balanced AI, but the control system. There’s a beginner control system which allows players to simply button mash to their heart’s content. To reap the full benefits of the game though, there’s the regular controls which provides three buttons to fight with – light, medium and strong attacks – and the Drive button offering a special attack when the Heat bar has reached a certain level. It’s a simplistic system to get to grips with initially but the wealth of combos, blocks and counter moves that can be achieved is impressive. At first glance, only having 12 characters at your disposal seems fairly limited but the complexity of the moves and combos means you never feel cheated out of variety.
Besides the ever typical Arcade mode, there’s a fair amount to do. An astonishingly comprehensive tutorial mode offers delights galore. Broken down into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections – the tutorial section teaches you pretty much everything you could possibly ever want to know about Continuum Shift. While the voiceover does feel a little patronising at times, it’s certainly worthwhile to spend a few hours learning the ins and outs of the game. Skills you acquire through here are especially useful once you jump into the online multiplayer which can be intensely challenging. It’s a similar tale with the Challenges mode whereby you’re tested through a series of character specific objectives. It’s tough but immensely satisfying to succeed at. Nothing can beat that feeling you get when you’ve pulled off an impressive combo attack.
There’s a story mode too which is, frankly, utterly bonkers. There’s a plethora of different endings to see and theplot is ridiculously over the top yet entertaining. Throughout you feel as if you’re playing through a wacky anime film, and the only slight failing is the reams and reams of dialogue to traverse.
The only mode that does feel a let down is that of the Legion mode whereby you collect various fighters, form an army and progress through a series of specific fights with their own rulesets. It’s a great concept but it feels a little underdeveloped and makes for a mode that you’ll find yourself only briefly playing.
The wealth of things to participate in is pretty impressive and makes BlazBlue: Continuum Shift a tantalising package for beat em up fans. While Street Fighter IV has the reputation and history, Continuum Shift has the gaming prowess and variety. The very fact that it’s so open to newcomers as well as the hardcore makes for an all inclusive game. One that you’d be a fool to pass by if you have even a passing interest in intelligent 2D fighters.