Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works
Platform: PC, Xbox 360 (2007-2008)
Tested on: PC
Guilty Gear 2 -Overture- – Review
Arc System Works has been dumping many of its older, perhaps even lesser known titles on Steam, granting PC users to finally enjoy these games. While we recently discussed Melty Blood and River City Ransom’s transition to Steam, we now have Guily Gear’s somewhat lesser known spin-off to present to you. Guilty Gear 2 -Overture- leaves behind its 2D fighting roots and presents you with a 3D game that is neither a pure fighting game or MOBA inspired title. While the mix is rather appealing, some items felt a bit dated when looking at our ‘modern’ standards.
Sol Badguy has always been the face of the Guilty Gear franchise, and this time it’s no different. Even though Sol is now leading a rather secluded life, he has an ‘apprentice’ named Sin, who tends to be rather chatty. While you are enjoying your quiet life, things get all riled up when all of a sudden the Gears (ancient beings with a massive amount of power) are vanishing. It’s never a good sign when overpowered dormant beings go missing, and thus the king, Ky, calls for Sol’s help, albeit in a rather original way. Ky hangs up wanted posters for Sol, who should get the hint if he comes across one. Soon after you’ll discover that the kingdom has already been trashed, Ky is in stasis and the one responsible is actually a very old ‘acquaintance’ of Sol.
Overall the story is rather flimsy, but thanks to the many voice acted scenes and somewhat decent dialogues things turn into a rather enjoyable mess.
Considering the game was originally released in 2007 in Japan, it still has a few good looking features. Overall the characters still look quite decent, as well as the enemies, but it’s clear that this game can already be considered as ‘dated’ when it comes to the graphical department, especially for its PC port. Choppy movements and occasional frame drops don’t help this odd party to kick off, but it’s quite typical for the time frame this game was released in.
Even though the maps you’ll be fighting on consist out of different lanes, given the MOBA aspect of the title, there is not much to see. Overall everything feels quite empty and uninspired, making the experience quite bland, outside of the fighting that is. A new lick of paint could have done a lot for this game.
One thing has to be said, the menus of this game look atrociously ugly and even have spelling mistakes in them from time to time. While, luckily, you won’t be spending that much time in the menus, they could and should have been updated.
‘Adventurous’ might be the best way to describe Guilty Gear 2 -Overture- ’s soundtrack. Most of the time you’ll be treated to a rather cinematic soundtrack, which would suit many adventure movies alike. Nonetheless, when things truly get heated up, some harder rock takes the stage and sets the right tone for the battle at hand. That being said, some tracks or short snippets tend to loop way too fast, making them become annoying, especially when you’re browsing the menus or are looking at the results of your battle(s).
The entire campaign mode has been dubbed in English and quite qualitatively actually. The dialogues are also rather fluent, which was rare for the time this game was released in, but this also means that the text will keep on going, even if you’re not paying that much attention. Older games like this often had you click to continue the text. That being said, those who’d rather enjoy the original Japanese voices can also choose this in the options menu.
Guilty Gears 2 -Overture- tries to mix fighting game mechanics together with more strategic MOBA components, blending it all together in a Dynasty Warriors-like game, albeit more slow paced and clunky. You’ll be occupying yourself with defending your lanes, and conquering new ones, hoping to reach the other player’s base (in this case, its Master Ghost).
For the biggest portion of the game, the matches you’ll be playing will always follow the same pattern, namely conquer the enemies’ Master Ghost and you’ll win. To elaborate further on what Ghosts and Master Ghosts are, they are simply spawning points, with the Master being your nexus. When conquering Ghosts on the map, your critters will start spawning and they will follow a fixed route toward the next Ghost in line, weakening it in the process, or clash with your enemy’s minions. Other than that, you’ll be able to summon servants at the cost of mana, these soldiers are stronger and there are different types you can summon in order to counter your opponent’s forces. Some types work better against others, thus you’ll have to properly plan your attacks and defenses.
Seeing you’ll be running around the map yourself, fighting minions, servants and masters alike, it will become rather hard to properly plan whatever you’re doing. You’ll have to go to the ‘Organ’ menu to summon servants, purchase skills and items, which might be a bit much when you first start playing the game. There are several assist options in place that either pause the game when you’re in the Organ menu or a function that summons servants automatically. Both functions prove quite useful if you’re looking for a more relaxed playthrough of the campaign. In the Organ menu you’ll also be able to indicate where your servants will have to go, which allows you to spread them strategically over the map.
As a master you’ll be stronger than what the other master throws at you, and in many cases dying will not mean the end of the world, as long as your Master Ghost remains intact. When dying you’ll simply respawn a bit later at your Master Ghost and before you know it you’ll be running into the fray once more. It becomes clear rather quickly that you aren’t the ‘only’ important chess piece on the map, because even for your opponent’s Master Ghost, you’ll need your servants to weaken the shield around it; if you’re not controlling all the Ghosts that is.
Navigating around the map is quite tedious, and though the developers had a fun concept in mind, it works rather horribly. Your character can activate its Blast Drive ability, which is just a fancy name for a sprint ability. This ability however will make your character rather uncontrollable, granting you only the option to ‘drift’ when you have to take a turn. More than often you just crash into walls, giving you a knockback and you’ll need a few seconds to recover. While the concept is quite nice, the execution is simply atrocious.
While the gameplay has many things you’ll need to master before you properly get the hang of it, or don’t want to get your ass kicked online, the game suffers from the fact it doesn’t truly draw the best out of the two genres it’s mixing and the controls feel like they were indeed 2007’s finest. Everything moves rather bulky, slow and lacks the finesse the normal Guilty Gear games had.
Those who still want to go further than the campaign mode will be able to enjoy the Free Missions, which are separate missions that have a specific condition to win. Though these missions vary from the normal ‘Master Ghost’ formula, it doesn’t mean they actually bring a lot of extra fun to the table. Some missions require you to achieve feats solo, which is more than often a drag rather than fun additional content.
Guilty Gear 2 -Overture- has a lot of nice ideas but doesn’t work them out properly. While this game is still reasonably okay for a title that was originally released in 2007, it would have been a lot better if the developers smoothened out the mechanics and had given it a new lick of paint, especially with the rather steep price they’re charging. MOBA and fighting fans will find some joy in this title, but those who are looking for a proper Guilty Gear experience should better bring out their retro consoles and play the original games.