The wheels of fate are turning once again as the latest version of BlazBlue hits consoles with BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extended. This is the second major update to Continuum Shift and the third as a whole in the series. Now there will be some people asking “Why in the hell did we need a disc update? Couldn’t Arc System Works have done it as DLC? Are they trying to be like Capcom?” Is CS Extend necessary or is Arc trying to be the “new Capcom?”
A TURN FOR THE GOOD
Latest Arcade Balances/Nerfs/Buffs/Characters Implemented on Disc - In the last major arcade update (Continuum Shift II) the four console excusive characters were added into the roster including Relius Clover, who is new to the cast. With these five additional characters, it was necessary to re-balance the fighting system, which means buffing and nerfing each of the past fighters to correspond to the new fighters.
Not a Bad Deal - Again you may be thinking: “Well, why didn’t they do this as DLC instead of a retail disc? Are they trying to be like Capcom?” Arc System Works is one of the few companies that follows the practice of fine turning and addressing glitches, bugs and any problems users may have on the arcade machine before taking the patch notes and applying them to the console version. This way, all problems have already been addressed, all glitches patched and balances applied without the need for a monthly character patch update. Is this an inconvenience? Yes, but think about it this way: CS II right now is priced at $30. Add in the four DLC characters and that raises the price to around $53. CS Extend is coming out at $39.99 with balance updates, updated netcode, the new Unlimited Mode, online Team Battles (more on that later), revamped Replay Theater, DLC characters already on disc and the new character Relius Clover.
Revamped and Extended Stories - Arc System Works has a reputation of putting just as much effort into the story of BlazBlue as they do in the fighting system. Extend has a revamped Calamity Trigger story that incorporates the new balances and updates from the latest arcade update and throws in extended storylines for the original cast, four new stories for the the former DLC characters and two extra story paths that were in the portal version of Continuum Shift II.
Online Team Battles - New to BlazBlue and beating out Street Fighter X Tekken by a month are the online team battles. This is where you and your buddy (or buddies) can fight in tournament-style team battles. They range from 2v2 and 3v3 to even handicap matches of 2v4. BlazBlue’s netcode is known to be one of the best out there when it comes to smooth matches and spectating, but to have up to six people at one time in a room in a team battle, where Murphy’s Law can kick in at any time, really says something about Arc’s programmers.
New Unlimited Mode - There are times when players want to wind down and relax after going online and beating down on scrubs. They want to play casuals, but don’t feel like hopping online looking for matches and want a challenge. So what’s the next best thing? Unlimited Mode. Unlimited Mode has players going up against Unlimited versions of the cast at their highest difficulty. For those who are confused, the Unlimited versions of fighters are basically overpowered versions of the standard version of the fighters. Add the increase in difficulty for the AI, and player will have something to keep them busy till the next online challenger comes.
No Legion Mode - Legion Mode first made its appearance on the PSP version of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Legion Mode was a conquest type of mode where you could recruit fighters after you beat them to join your army. It’s a fun distraction from all of the online battles with other players and a welcomed one at that. However that won’t be the case with Extend since it’s not on the disc. Is this a deal breaker? Not really, since any modes outside Versus, Online and Replay/Theater are just extra icing on the cake. I bring this up because most “gamers” won’t bother to either ask or double check and then will get mad for no reason other than the PR people forgot change their product information.
No offline Team Battle - While Team Battle is a great innovation to add to online team fight, it would have been better and more practical to have it as an offline mode. Think of how much faster and efficient team tournaments will be without teammates having to back out to character select. With an offline team battle all team members can choose their fighters at the same time and won’t lose time. I’m sure that eventually Arc will release an update for this
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is a welcome update to CS II that brings along arcade updates, balances and patches. Now some will say that there shouldn’t be a need for another disc update and that it should have been DLC. To that I say, look at MK9, KOF 13, and UMVC3. Each of these games, while really great in their own way, needed post launch patches updates and balances. One guy is too strong, one guy is too weak, one guy throws off the whole balance of the roster, and another guy can exploit a glitch and get a cheap win. These games have gotten either weekly or monthly patches to various aspects of their fighting systems and network codes for online play. With the route that Arcs took with Extend, major glitches, balances, patches and the sort are already taken care of. Combine that with a pretty solid extend stories and the new Unlimited Mode, there is a bit of everything for both the casual and the pro fighter.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*