It’s been around a year since Blazblue: Calamity Trigger. The game enjoyed quite a bit of attention for a few months, most notable being the graphics, story mode, and accessible game play. But it wasn’t long before the game’s flaws came to light.
The cast of characters was very unbalanced, and the gap between the top characters and the lesser characters was massive. V-13, Arakune and Rachel destroyed the rest of the cast, while characters like Tager and Hakumen could barely compete. V-13 was especially notorious for being far too good. With an insane zoning game and high damaging combos based around one button, even the Japanese players were upset with V-13, never clapping when a V-13 player won at SBO, the Japan national championship. After several major tournaments, the game’s popularity dropped off immensely, especially when Continuum Shift hit arcades 5 months after Calamity Trigger’s release.
But now Continuum Shift is available on consoles, and it is back with a vengeance. While taking a few pages from Super Street Fighter IV, such as a lower price and DLC, Aksys has already confirmed continuing support for the game, with new DLC characters and a balancing patch 6 months after release. But is it enough to keep gamers interested this time around?
Continuum Shift alters some of the core mechanics from Calamity Trigger. Bursting no longer carries the same penalty as before, and you can stock up to two bursts at a time. The guard primer system serves as your blocking gauge. Each character has a number of primers, with Arakune and Lambada having the least and Tager having the most. Certain moves will remove primers, and primers will decrease even faster if the person is barrier blocking. Once you lose all your primers, it results in a guard crush and you are left wide open.
The entire cast has been tweaked extensively. Only a few characters gained entirely new moves, while others mostly suffer nerfs. Many of the overpowered techniques have been reduced in their effectiveness. For example, Lambada-11 (The new version of V-13) has less effective mix up at long range, and is forced to get closer for bigger damage. Arakune no longer curses instantly, and instead he must fill up a curse gauge to activate curse. However, once he fills it up, it won’t end until the meter runs down even if he gets hit. And lastly, everyone’s favorite justice loving ninja Bang has gone straight from bottom of the barrel bad to the front of the pack. Check out my upcoming article on the balancing of CS for a more in depth look.
Continuum Shift continues a strong emphasis on the single player experience, offering a brand new story mode that continues where Calamity Trigger left off, Tutorial mode, Legion mode, and Challenge mode. Each one offers hours of game play, and do a lot to ease a new player into the game.
Story mode is relatively the same, with multiple paths and endings for each character. This time around there is many more fully animated cut scenes to reward players who reach the end of each character’s story. While short, they are better than the average fighting game endings.
Tutorial mode covers the basics of the game, from how to move and the mechanics such as the barrier gauge and guard primer system, all the way to spacing and mix up, all narrated by the cute and sarcastic Rachel. Strategies for each character are also included, informing you about a character’s play style, anti airs, and other important things to know. I find it to be a great way to get your feet wet with a new character, and it’s much handier to have this information in game instead of the DVD that came with Calamity Trigger.
Challenge mode is almost exactly like the Trial mode from Super Street Fighter IV with a few welcome additions. Each trial is loaded one after another with no loading times in between, and you can skip to any trial with zero loading in between. Also included is a button to reset the playing field to neutral, and a handy button to demonstrate the move or combo. Legion mode is the same affair from the PSP game, with a strategy setting where your goal is to overtake a map.
Continuum Shift is an excellent follow up to Calamity Trigger that not only expands and improves the much lauded single player modes, but fixes many of the balance issues from the first game. While it’s not hard at all to recommend this to casual and competitive fighting game players, it’s also a good buy even if you didn’t enjoy the first game. It’s cheaper than the original, and there’s plenty to look forward to with DLC. Be on the lookout for the new character Makoto next month.
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