BlazBlue is back for a fourth round and it's good
Written by Jose VegaSince 2009, Blazblue is one of these franchises that bring something unique to the fighting game genre. For almost eight years, the series has been through a lot despite following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Now in 2016, the fourth game in the series arrives with Blazblue: Central Fiction. Originally released in the arcades, the game is now here on consoles. The question is if a fourth hurrah will be the one that will give the series glory or if this will be the last?
Blazblue is one of these games where the plot can be as ridiculous as its characters. Continuing from the events of Chronophantasma, the story centers on a mysterious embryo in the sky and signs that foretell the end of the world coming. Trying to explain it would be complicated but it's what Blazblue is. It's not much of a bad thing but there are some moments where it goes into the territory of absurdity. Longtime fans that have played the previous entries will have a good understanding of what will transpire. But for those that want to get into the series, the game provides a good summary of what happened, helping people get up to speed.
When you think about gameplay, it's one of Blazblue's high points. Fortunately it's similar to the previous games so long time fans can feel right at home. However, this game has added some new mechanics while providing added changes. One such mechanic is the Exceed Accel, a kind of Distortion Drive that serves as a follow up to activating Overdrive. It deals a lot of pain but also ends Overdrive. Another feature they added is Active Flow, the opposite of Negative Penalty. Basically the more you attack and go on the offensive you get rewarded with boosted damage and Burst Gauge recovery. It also increases Exceed Accel damage. It's a nice addition for players that put everything in their offense. Blazblue's Drive system is still the staple of the series, providing each character with their own distinct skill. With over 35 characters to choose from, it can get hectic. But it's a good thing obviously. All the cast from the previous games returns here along with some new ones.
Central Fiction has many modes for players to enjoy. You have your standard Arcade Mode like every other fighting game. However in the case of this, Arcade Mode is split into 3 acts. It's because the Arcade version started with Act I and then updated twice, adding new playable characters and story. You have the option of choosing to do any act, depending on the character chosen. Story Mode takes you through the game's story. It's long and it'll take you roughly 15-20 hours, more if you want to 100% it. Other modes include Tutorial, Training, Challenge, Versus, Score Attack and Abyss. They provide a lot more time into the game. Replay value is very high with some of these modes. Online Play is well done. You can either go to a Ranked Match, Player Match or a Lobby. Lobbies are easy to set up and can hold a lot of players. Sometimes online matches can lag but it's seamless and well done. There's also customization with so many different options you can have to set yourself apart from other players. So many things to unlock that it raises the replay value even higher. Design wise, the game is beautiful. Many of the stages are vibrant, colorful and add a lot to the areas you battle. Sure some of them are reused from previous games but seeing them all in 1080p is simply a sight to behold. For a 2D fighting game, it's awesome. The music is real awesome. Some characters have themes that really rock and are addicting to listen to. It's a game like this where I really want to buy the soundtrack for it and I recommend it.
There are some glaring faults Central Fiction has in spite of its positives. One of the biggest is of a lack of English Dub. Central Fiction is the first and only game in the franchise where at release there is no English dub, only Japanese. Rvery other game in the series always had both an English and Japanese dub. This doesn't and it caused a bit of problems for fans. So much so that a petition was made to convince both Arc System Works and Aksys Games to release an English dub down the line. It's disappointing there's no English dub at launch but I hope that they'll deliver it down the line. Also, it's not a game like Blazblue without micro transactions. Most are purely cosmetic and minor but characters such as Es and Mai Natsume require money. They've done it before in previous installments with other characters but it's upsetting that you need to pay to unlock them. I have nothing wrong with micro transactions if they're done right but if its done in a way like that, no way.
Despite some negatives, Blazblue Central Fiction is a game that provides so much to do at full price. You have refined gameplay, a cast of over 30 characters, a story mode that can get you engaging, very strong online and various modes that offer a lot of replay value. Overall it's a package that provides so much in one game. In a way, it feels complete. Truly. Had this game include an English dub from the start, I would rate it higher. Regardless for a fourth entry in the series, I can say that this is the best one. If you haven't got a chance to pick this game up, now is the time.
I give Blazblue: Central Fiction an 85 out of 100.