Whoever said that Capcom was the only company that could make a successful 2D fighter franchise was wrong.
Sammy Studios has been relentless in their continued pursuit of this style of fighting game with the Guilty Gear series. They've introduced innovations in the 2D fighting genre that have captivated many die-hard fans.
Guilty Gear Isuka (GSI), for the PS2, maintains everything that made its predecessor a great game and even managed to improve in certain areas. Based on a newer Reloaded version of Guilty Gear X2, GSI introduces some new faces, game options, and jaw dropping play mechanics that are almost unbelievable.
Usually when playing a fighting game, your character auto focuses on your enemy for you. Not so in GSI.
By tapping the R1 button, you tell the game which direction to face while fighting. This is a bittersweet innovation. Imagine executing a really cool combo only to realize that in the middle of your combo your opponent is now behind whilst you're still facing your original direction. This can be disastrous as in a close match any advantage you can obtain is crucial.
Having your back to your enemy is certainly not one of them and will probably result in having your face unkindly rocked in a very bad way.
GSI forces you to be completely aware of a character's direction, something we as hard core 2D/3D fighters took for granted in the past. We found ourselves many times combining Sol Badguy's Bandit Revolver with his 'Fafnir' move only to realize that we forgot to adjust his direction so he continued to face the enemy. The upside to this is that there are moves that can be done whilst your back is to your enemy but still having to press R1 to change orientation during battle is a bit aggravating.
This gets especially tricky in 4-player everyone-for-themselves smack-downs. What might work better would be to have an auto lock feature like Metroid Prime does. You can choose which enemy to have your character auto lock on and this would automatically adjust the orientation based on the location of your enemy. The cool thing is that you can also choose to switch enemy focus whenever you want. This is a cool feature to have especially in a multiplayer game like this where you could potentially have up to 3 enemies at once.
Dragon Ball Z fans beware!
Along with the complexity of a 4-player battle looms the forefront vs. the background battle action. In GSI, fights can take place at anytime either in the fore or backgrounds. Although you have the option to move in and out of this field of view, the feature does have drawbacks that are more prevalent in the multiplayer engagements. When two or more battles are going on, butt-whupping in the foreground and butt-whupping in the background may overlap. This makes it a bit difficult to see the action.
However, the cool thing about this is that you can send an opponent into the background or do a special move that throws an enemy from back to front or vice versa.
The fun doesn't stop there, folks. You can build your own character. Using their base model Robo KyII (which is a robotic clone of Ky Kiske, one of the main characters in the game), you can modify certain characteristics including fighting moves. With the acquisition of credits you can buy special moves, upgrades, etc, for your character.
Despite the fact that you can take special move combos from any of the main characters in the game, getting them can be a bit annoying. You need to spend credits to get the upgrades. To get the credits you have to play the GG Boost Mode with Robo KyII. This is a side scrolling adventure option of the game is very similar to Final Fight or even Tekken, where you choose a character and play through a series of levels where you face off with random enemies. Only by going through this mode can you earn points or credits (which, by the way, are extremely difficult to come by). A better more flexible feature would've been to award points/credits for just playing through any part of the game (a la Marvel vs. Capcom).
Just a thought.
Guilty Gear Isuka is chock full of lush graphics, new character models, cool new game modes and some stunning special moves that are sure to leave any hard core 2D fighter fan very pleased. With the exception of some of the control mechanics, the credit earning and the foreground/background action, Guilty Gear Isuka is definitely a solid game that hones what its predecessors have already set in place. It has pretty good replay value and is definitely fun when you play against 3 other buddies. Too bad you can't take it online.
Suffice to say, our faces have been seriously rocked by Guilty Gear Isuka.
By William Vitka
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