Arc System Works' Guilty Gear series has been around for some fifteen years now. In early December, the latest home version, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus, was finally released on the PSN, having previously been released on XBLA, Wii, and PSP. The R version is live in select arcades now, so even though Plus isn't the latest, it's still a solid technical 2D fighter with a deep history.
I've dabbled with the Guilty Gear series over the years, but honestly I've never kept up with it nor became a passionate fan. It's not that the series is flawed or the controls are broke or anything like that, it just doesn't capture me with its style and characters like some Western fighters do. Playing GGXXACP on the PSN lately has reminded me that this is a deep and intriguing fighter, but as with BlazBlue, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and some of the SNK fighters, the characters and style are a little too technical and Eastern for me. On the other hand, it's exactly that technical depth that true fans of the fighting genre thrive on, which is why it's not a big surprise that the Guilty Gear games are popular amongst genre aficionados.
You're likely to encounter some of those players online. It's not uncommon to see player profiles showing many hundreds or even thousands of matches played. Given this game has been out a couple of months, perhaps it's not too surprising that the first several hundred ranked players have logged about as many games. Both Friendly and Ranked matches are available, and in my play testing the net code worked well for the most part. Where there were issues, it was unclear to me if it was my connection or the other player's, but in almost any event, I got my ass handed to me swiftly. I ultimately spent more time in the offline modes than in online.
Offline modes include Story, Mission, Arcade, M.O.M., Team (vs CPU and other local players), Survival, and Training. The Training, along with the How To Play guide that is available from the Pause menu, go into appreciable detail about the game's unique mechanics and elements, such as the Burst and Tension meters. Even if you have played the series before, it's definitely worth the few minutes it takes to look through it. The material covered includes the Burst, Tension, and Guard Balance gauges, critical gameplay mechanics that the pros monitor closely.
Understanding the mechanics of the game becomes a must in modes like Mission, where the game pits you against the CPU in twenty-five different scenarios. Conditions include things like the CPU character having more health, or starting the match with a full Burst gauge. The missions get harder as the mission number increases, but you can start on any of the twenty-five. M.O.M. mode is interesting in that it's a one-fall mode, and a meter in the middle of the screen grades your performance. The more you fill up the meter, the more points and the better medal you are awarded. Story mode is cool because the player has to make decisions throughout which alter what ending you get, so hardcore players may seek to unlock more than one ending for a character and view all unlocked material in the Gallery mode.
GGXXACP features a lot of characters, well over two dozen although I don't have an exact number. Selecting these characters is oddly a minor pain because the select tool is not bound to the character avatars like most fighters -- instead it floats along slowly as you move it, not unlike a cursor on a computer screen, to the different avatars. I just thought it was odd to be designed like that, and in fact it may have to do with how this game was formerly on the Wii and PSP.
As for presentation, GGXXACP is presented in 4:3, with a static decorative border on each of the vertical sides of the picture. The framerate and art style are the main positives, while the technical quality is certainly dated. There are some various graphical tweaks you can do, related to aliasing and also cosmetic changes such as the positions of the gauges and HUD elements. Suffice it to say that while it's far from the most technically proficient fighter, it is colorful, features great character animations, interesting backgrounds, smooth framerates, and a pretty good instrumental heavy metal soundtrack.
Although I find GGXXACP a little too anime and technical for me, there's still a lot to like and it's not hard to fathom why this game is a popular one for hardcore fighters. To the summary...