Review: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (Xbox 360/PS3)

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a game that's going to immediately feel right for hardcore fighting fans. If you've cut your teeth on Arc System Works' Guilty Gear franchise in the past, or enjoyed some of the more intense Capcom offerings in the 2D fighter genre, then the principles and mechanics of BlazBlue are going to feel natural to you.

[Note: If you're not one for battling through long paragraphs of words, try our casual setting, which features a much easier opponent: a video synopsis.]
Like many 2D fighters, BlazBlue relies upon several staples of the genre, such as super moves (called Distortion Finishes in the game) and guard break maneuvers. However, other additions help spice things up, such as the ability to roll out of an attack, the parry-like system that opens up an attacking enemy for a combo, and the Drive button.

The game utilizes a four-button scheme -- players have three different standard attack buttons, and one Drive button. The Drive button is specific to each character, and usually employs said character's special weapon. Just pressing the button is a special move in and of itself most of the time, but when combined with the other buttons, you can come up with some pretty sick combos rather easily. There's also an Easy Special mode that allows you to perform a Distortion Finish with the press of a button, but that should only be used if you're the worst at fighting games.

One of the major additions to this console port of the arcade fighter is the Story mode. It's full of long-winded, convoluted monologues and unless you like going through pages and pages of text, this likely won't be the game's highlight for you. It's nothing more than each character explaining their motives in the most boring way possible, going somewhere, talking to somebody, then fighting them. However, during Carl Clover's storyline, something happened that I would've appreciated seeing more of. When he's about to fight Rachel, she turns off his automaton sister, leaving him with only a small portion of his moves to use. This meant adopting a different strategy, on the fly, which really threw me a curveball. It seemed like Arc System Works could have employed more of these kinds of scenarios to spice things up and make the Story mode a viable way to play, but as it is, it's fairly hollow.

Another area Arc System Works did a good job was in is balancing the characters. Each character is incredibly unique, and keeps the button-mashers at bay because no two characters can be played in the same way. It's this variety that keeps the game fresh and means that no single strategy will dominate. Unless you're playing online, anyway, in which case you could just use v-13 and spam projectiles like everyone else in the world. Let's hope they find it in their hearts to balance her out.

BlazBlue will easily establish itself as a fun and frenetic fighter during your first play session, as it did with me. It's a solid 2D fighter that, while failing to turn the genre on its head, manages to feel fresh and new. If you like your fighting games to be a bit more fast-paced, then BlazBlue is going to bring the good times.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.