Jahanzeb Khan
25 Mar, 2010

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Review

360 Review | Dear developers and publishers, please release good games here on time.
The PAL release took much longer than it should have, but the time has finally come to review BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was released way back in June 2009 just about everywhere else in the world, but for some strange reason it took over nine months for the game to finally arrive here.

BlazBlue is by Arc System Works, the same talented development team that worked on the Guilty Gear series. While BlazBlue has often been cited as a ‘spiritual successor’ to Guilty Gear, we feel that despite some apparent similarities and inspiration, BlazBlue feels and looks like a whole new game. The story of BlazBlue is so deep and layered that it almost warrants its very own anime series. The game features a plot that revolves around cloning, time travel, sibling rivalry, the destruction of the universe, ancient demonic creatures, prophecies and just about anything you would expect from a science fiction anime. Explaining the plot of BlazBlue is like explaining the plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion, sure, it starts out simple enough but then it takes all sorts of weird twists and turns.

The in-game universe is very interesting and it is likely the most well written storyline and setting you will ever find in a fighting game. It is loaded with several anime conventions but they have been tastefully implemented. While most fighting games feature very cliché and stereotypical characters, BlazBlue features very interesting and diverse personalities.

Sure took long enough to get here.

Sure took long enough to get here.
So now moving on to what actually matters- the gameplay. BlazBlue gives us a fighting system so refined, unique, deep and innovative that it really starts to make all other recent fighting games feel primitive. BlazBlue plays very well, as it is blistering fast, beautifully done and flows at a consistently breakneck pace that keeps you at the edge of your seat, and is filled with moments that will make your heart skip a beat. The combat system is so deep that it is frightening and intimidating at first. It’s almost as if you would need a PhD in 2D fighting to even begin grasping the mechanics. Thankfully, BlazBlue is a very welcoming game that ends up being entertaining rather than forcibly suffocating players with an endless list of techniques and tutorials.

What is most pleasing about BlazBlue is that its combo system is fluid and effortless. The combo system floats even more freely than what we saw in Guilty Gear, and leaves plenty of room for creativity, as players will be able to chain to together the small selection of attacks and special moves into truly breathtaking combinations based on their own skill. The combo system never feels as limited as it does in most fighting games. Unique to this game is the ‘Drive’ button, which does wonders for making each character feel genuinely different from each other. The Drive button allows each character to perform their unique ability, for example, Haku-Men and Bang can pull off an effective counter attack, Rachel can control the direction of the wind and Jin can perform freezing ice attacks. The Drive button is so simple in concept and yet so impressive in execution.

The game has ‘Astral Heat’ finishers and these are similar to the ‘Destroy’ attacks found in Guilty Gear games. An Astral Heat finisher grants a player instant victory if they are able to connect. In Guilty Gear a Destroy attack could only be performed once, but at anytime during the match. In BlazBlue however, the conditions necessary for an Astral Heat are more specific and strict, and this really helps to make things more challenging and interesting. An Astral Heat can only be performed if it is the final round of the match, the opponent has less than 20% HP and the Heat gauge is at 100%. While the conditions do seem strict, the opportunity for an Astral Heat comes around quite frequently and they are not nearly as rare as the Critical Finishers in Soul Calibur IV.

The game is still an absolute thrill to play.

The game is still an absolute thrill to play.
Then there are of course the techniques and attacks that every 2D fighter needs. You’ve got your air recoveries, aerial combos, dashing, evasions, throws, counters, cancels and the like. You also have plenty of special moves, as well as super moves called ‘Distortion Drive’ attacks that consume the ‘Heat’ gauge. BlazBlue features a roster of only 12 characters and while the small quantity here will probably disappoint most fighting game fans, the sheer quality of them more than makes up for this. Each character handles very differently in terms of speed, weight, strength, agility, the flow of their attacks, their Drive attack and their whole arsenal in general. These are not characters that differ solely by their special moves, as each character in BlazBlue seems to have their own unique system and gameplay mechanic.

Characters like Rachel, Carl, Litchi, v-13 and Arakune are quite unorthodox and unique. Carl has a mechanical puppet named ‘Nirvana’ that fights along side him, and he can control ‘her’ separately. Litchi has a stick that she can toss around and even balance herself on. v-13 specialises in pure projectile attacks and traps and then there is Arakune, who is so random and hard to predict that even those using him would get confused. Even though the characters are so unique and different from each other in terms of play style, attributes and mechanics, the game never feels too unbalanced. Many will probably accuse Haku-Men for being too strong, but the fact is that a faster and more versatile character (like Noel) can easily stand up to him.

BlazBlue will surely keep fans of the genre busy for months as they try to explore each unique character and fully grasp all the game’s mechanics. While all this may seem a tad bit overwhelming for casual fans of the genre, rest assured BlazBlue will still be as entertaining for them because all the mechanics are responsive and accurate. For those who are completely new to the genre, the game offers a simplified ‘auto’ control scheme for beginners.

Rachel isn't too happy about the PAL release delay.

Rachel isn't too happy about the PAL release delay.
The story mode of BlazBlue is very elaborate and well designed, featuring some well drawn animated stills and fully voiced scenes. You will face a series of battles until you reach one of the many possible endings for a character. The stories have branching paths, so there will be times where you will have to make choices. Also, winning a bout in a certain way or even losing to someone can also open up a new path. There is a gallery mode featuring BlazBlue media, and then there is of course an online mode. Finally, there is an odd episodic comedy series that you can unlock, which stars chibi versions of BlazBlue characters.

Graphically and artistically, BlazBlue is a sight to behold. The game looks and animates as well as any modern work of Japanese anime done in HD. Every frame of animation looks stunning and never once is there any flaw. The 3D special effects are well done too, and they blend really well with the 2D sprites. The characters are quite detailed and much work has gone into their animations, as their expressions are much livelier than the near static expressions we see in most 2D fighting games. The game also features some impressive looking stages that feature a nice mix of 2D and 3D. The art style itself is quite amazing, and while some characters do bear a close resemblance with certain Guilty Gear characters, their designs still have their own unique flair. The soundtrack is stellar, composed by Daisuke Ishiwatari, and is among his best work yet. The score is a blend of heavy metal and beautiful orchestra music. Each track is full of energy, unforgettable melodies and arrangements. The game is fully voiced both in English and Japanese, with the English audio being passable.

BlazBlue is a fantastic game that really breathes new life into the tried and tested 2D fighting genre, the only problem is that the game arrived here too late. We are not implying that the game has become redundant, but it would have made a much bigger impact if it had arrived here sooner. We would love to score this game higher, but seeing that BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is due for a console release this year and that the release of Super Street Fighter IV is a month away, it's difficult to give BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger the praise we really want to give. Those who really wanted the game would have already imported it last year. That said, we still recommend it to any fighting fan who is craving for a top quality game.
The Score
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger breathes new life into the tried and tested genre. However, it could have made a much bigger impact if it had arrived here sooner. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago
Great review! A really good read.
I'm definitely going to get this as soon as possible, as it has been one of my most anticipated games for a fair while now. And seriously, why did it take so long to get here? icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
took so long cause they had to translate it from American to Australian. That takes time. Good review if you read it. hope no one just glances over the score cause it has lost points for being released so late. Hopefully alot of people buy it so CS comes out quickly and so i have someone to kick my a$$ online
4 years ago
I'll still take Street Fighter 4 over this any given day :)

Awesome review though....nice work as always Jahanzeb.
4 years ago
Wow July 2009, I didn't realise it was so long

Yeah good review and fair score for it
As a fan of the old 'street fighter' series I must say this is one of the new titles I have been interested in but I just seem to have forgotten about it since late last year.

I agree with most of the comments in the article - especially with regard to making an bigger impact had it been released here sooner.
4 years ago
It has come to my attention that the release of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger has been delayed due to shipment delays. It will come out tomorrow (I hope).
4 years ago
Oh really? Because we haven't waited long enough already? :p

Well, one extra day shouldn't hurt.
4 years ago
as long as its just one day....
4 years ago
Ah Arakune with his awesome bug spam. I've no idea how to play this game but I somehow do alright with Mr. Blobby.
4 years ago
I just have to say this:

Hands off the Panda!! Hands off the Panda!!...... >_>
4 years ago
its strange that the reason it didnt get a higher score becauuse of the timing of its release, i find that so bizaare. so in efect, doesnty that mean that if it came out at another time, people would enjoy it more?
4 years ago
maybe more people would be online other than that it doesnt make too much sense. It says impact will be gone, but i havent seen other good 2d fighters released to make this one look bad? Only problem is CS is coming out soon, but i doubt it will here
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/3/2010 (Confirmed)
  All Interactive Entertainment
Year Made:

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