Black Rock Shooter: The Game Review for PS Vita

Black Rock Shooter: The Game Review for PS Vita

Sexy Mega Man Saves The World

Black Rock Shooter’s origins begin with an artist’s sketch of an attractive young woman with a large metal cannon for an arm. Since then it’s grown into a major franchise in Japan, with everything from an eight-episode anime series to an assortment of video games. The most popular of these video games is the 2011 action/RPG Black Rock Shooter: The Game. Black Rock Shooter finally arrived in the US Tuesday as a PSP/Vita download.

Black Rock Shooter: The Game Screenshot

The Story of BRS leaves something to be desired. The high-school caliber story stars a sexy Mega Man who awakens from her slumber to fight off the apocalypse. The localization team for the U.S. version of the game didn’t redub the dialog, so you’ll be stuck reading subtitles if you want to follow the plot. Because of the subtitles, the large number of cutscenes in the game make following along with the story a chore. At least it’s short; BRS clocks in at a solid fifteen hours.

The game is still fun to play despite the tedious story-telling thanks to a highly innovative combat system. The combat mixes a third-person shooter feel with classic RPG game mechanics. When not in battle, the standard third-person gameplay lets you move in any direction you want. It also lets you jump over gaps and climb up obstacles. But as soon as you come into contact with an enemy, the whole experience changes. The distinct combat events play like a Final Fantasy game.

Black Rock Shooter: The Game Screenshot

The gameplay in battle limits you to a narrow set of moves. You can aim your gun, dodge, and block. You can’t walk freely in three-dimensional space or take cover. The auto-aim here is so generous that it feels like you’re selecting a target rather than actually aiming . As a result, BRS plays more like Chrono Trigger than Gears of War.

Black Rock Shooter also tests your sense of timing. Each enemy attack is a risk-reward scenario: if you dodge at just the right moment, you won’t take damage; if you block, you’ll take a little damage; and if you try to dodge and miss, you can take a lot of damage at once, especially with bosses. The controls are nice and responsive, making the player own every failure.

There are a variety of other interesting features, too. Shooting and dodging cause your character to heat up, for example. Not only will she eventually overheat, at which point she’ll be rendered inert and vulnerable for a few seconds, but heating up also makes her do less damage. You have to give her a second to cool down periodically so she stays effective.

Black Rock Shooter: The Game Screenshot

As you gain levels and meet various objectives, you learn skills that you can use during battle. These skills include special attacks, stat boosts, and even the ability to recharge your health. A cooldown timer prevents player abuse. Up to four of these skills can be equipped at a time.

This entire setup is so compelling that it’s easy to forgive a wide range of other flaws. Each battle presents a new challenge — you need to figure out which enemies to shoot first, when to use your skills, and how to respond to attacks. The boss fights in particular can be interesting. These powerful foes can deliver devastating attacks to Black Rock Shooter if their patterns aren’t learned.

That’s not to say anything is overly difficult, though. Players can save in between missions, and there are save points in the levels themselves as well. I wish the game would use autosaving instead, but the manual saving mechanic rarely gets frustrating. The easy difficulty of the game makes restarting using an old save a rare occurrence.

Black Rock Shooter: The Game Screenshot

Unfortunately, no matter how innovative the game can be, the PSP title looks wretched; especially when compared to games on the Vita. BRS receives no enhancements when played on the Vita instead of the PSP except for the Vita’s built-in filtering capability. The game does have some visually interesting cutscenes that add some flare to the game. But even with the well-made cutscenes the graphics of BRS disappoint.

I understand that this was released in Japan before the Vita came out, but some minor graphical improvements for the new hardware would have been nice. Not even the main character’s blazing sex appeal can escape the dampening effects of a clumsy polygonal model. Suffering from the same polygon curse, the levels end up feeling like an endless succession of linear, ugly, low-resolution environments.

Looks aren’t everything, though. Black Rock Shooter gives players a clever blend of action and RPG. It’s not really a shooter, and it’s not turn-based. Black Rock Shooter: The Game takes elements from a variety of genres and puts them together in a unique and addictive way. The world hasn’t seen a game quite like this before.

It’s compatible with the Vita, but it’s just a PSP game. 4.0 Control
Nice and responsive. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Energetic music and solid sound effects. 4.5 Play Value
An incredible battle system overshadows any flaws. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Explore ghostly city ruins, bizarre alien structures, and more as you travel through illustrator Huke’s vision of a devastated future Earth!
  • Engage in lightning-fast battles where your choices and reflexes are the only thing standing between you and total annihilation!
  • Level up BRS to equip her with a bevy of attacks and skills to make full use of her superhuman abilities and gigantic cyber-cannon!
  • Complete a variety of missions for the last remaining humans to unlock new guns, costumes, challenges, and more!

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