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3 Reviews

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus

Heaven and hell

Look, we just plain wouldn't be doing our job right if we didn't start this review off by advising Guilty Gear fans not to splash out 20-odd quid on this one.

Although the 'XX Accent Core Plus Super-Super All That And A Bag Of Quavers' tagline suggests that this is a substantial update over the last game, 2007's XX Accent Core, the truth is quite the opposite.

In fact, having compared the two side by side, it's hard to believe that anyone's had the brass neck to package it as a separate game. But the rules have always been different for fighting games, haven't they?

Those differences in full, then. The main draw for Guilty Gear fans will be the new Story mode, which neatly ties up each of the 25 playable characters' story arcs once and for all (Accent Core Plus will almost definitely be Guilty Gear's last stand - in an interview last month, series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari indicted that BlazBlue was created as a direct replacement, to 'reset' the barrier of entry for new players).

As is to be expected from a series that draws heavily on anime for its inspiration, the storylines range from the poignant to the comically absurd (we're still trying to get our heads around Chipp Zanuff's farcical presidential campaign).

Although the presentation could be better (there are no English voiceovers, and the text is in the ugly Wii default font), the scripting is appropriately offbeat, and with multiple different endings on offer, this is less fan service and more a full-on fan buffet.

TELLIN' STORIES
After the buffet come the slim pickings. The other new mode, Survival, is a gauntlet series with mild RPG elements (you level up during combat, with occasional opportunities to upgrade your attributes).

The near-constant levelling-up process tickles your brain in the same way that, say, Call Of Duty's multiplayer does - by constantly feeding you a loop of positive feedback and always providing an attainable target to aim for.

But although it's moreish to a point, the lack of online leaderboards and its similarity to the existing - and superior - M.O.M. gauntlet mode mean that it's hardly a compelling reason for Accent Core owners to upgrade.

Apart from that, we've got... er... a new title screen? The fighters have also been rebalanced slightly, apparently, but they could have fooled us. Our professional opinion is that upgrading would be a waste of money (and newcomers would be as well off with regular Accent Core if they can find it significantly cheaper), but we know how rabid the GG fanbase can be.

If you fit that description and are still tempted, at least you'll know what to expect... Which is more than can be said for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing a Guilty Gear game before. Street Fighter IV has won acclaim for the way it simplified a genre that had become needlessly complex, obtuse and hardcore; Guilty Gear was the final evolution of this.

Depending on your point of view (and the level of commitment you're willing to put in), Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core Lah-De- Dah Plus is either a genre-defining masterpiece with unparalleled tactical freedom, or a brain-melting horror-show of redundant gauge bars and nonsensical characters.

CORE BLIMEY
It's great fun either way, though - even if you haven't got the foggiest idea what's going on at a tactical level and just want to mash buttons. The pacing of the game is superb - fast, frantic and aggressive, but never so much so that the on-screen action becomes bewildering.

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