|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Arc System Works|
|Release: May 12, 2011|
|Players: 1-2, up to 8 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift 2 has finally come to home consoles everywhere. Even though it's been advertised as a balance patch, it's practically a whole new game. Characters have new moves, game modes have been changed, few tactics that worked in CS1 carry over, and there's even some brand new voice acting. So how does CS2 compare to its predecessor?
Well, it's more balanced at least. Honestly, the first thing you'll find if you log on to CS2's servers is a whole bunch of fans screaming about how the game is ruined. Now, you can chalk this up to the rabid, frothy ranting nature of the internet, but this time the whiners have a fair point. The gameplay is more balanced, but it's far less accessible than it was previously. It's much more difficult to attain competency with any given character, and newbies will flail around for a long while before they even stand a chance against those with real experience.
Let me explain. The average health of a BlazBlue character is around 10,000 points. In CS1, you could easily string together combos that did around 4,000 points of damage without a whole lot of thought. The majority of gameplay was centered on loops and basic combos, and with a bit of training, most gamers could be basically competent with any character by picking up one or two good strings.
However, in CS2, the damage and hit stun has greatly been reduced. Now combos top off at around 3,000 damage in most circumstances, and few, if any, are basic. Moves rarely repeat themselves in combos and most loops have been taken out. Sure, there are crazy examples of 6,000 damage combos with Noel and Arakune that can still nearly 0-death someone when cursed, but damage and combo length has been reduced, and combos have become more complicated.
This is partially because the properties and damage of every move in the game have been changed, and partially because there are new move properties that we haven't seen before. In CS1, we dealt with characters wall and ground bouncing. However, in CS2, moves can make characters "wall bind," which makes them hit the wall and fall down, and "spin out," which makes them tumble end over end in mid-air.
In a way, this makes the game a little easier to understand. For example, forward throws nearly always put distance between you and the opponent while backward throws do less damage but set the opponent up for combos. This is a much better system than the throws-do-whatever-we-want-them-to-do system in CS1.
However, it actively changes character archetypes, making the game harder for people who already knew how to play. For example, Ragna is no longer an easy rushdown character; he's become more of a middle-of-the-road, jack-of-all-trades type. Hazama's basic loops have been removed, forcing him to do most of his damage in the corner. This feels counterintuitive, since it lies in stark contrast to his high mobility. The stupid high damage of Litchi and hard-to-beat mix-up game of Bang have both been removed, but now there are problems with Noel's damage and Makoto's mix-up. In fact, I ended up dropping all my old characters and picking up Tsubaki, who used to be one of the worst characters in the game. Overall, the core gameplay is better, but not particularly more fun. At least not at this point, anyway.