An Update, Not A Game
It’s nothing new for a fighting game franchise to package new characters, balance changes, and a few new modes as a totally new release. Ever since the days of Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting on the SNES, fighting game developers have been releasing what were essentially updates as stand-alone titles. The trick is to give your fans enough extra content to not feel cheated for purchasing the now-outdated version, but in recent times some developers have been missing this mark. Many of you remember the controversy Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 caused when it was released a mere eight months after the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Many of you also remember the controversies surrounding Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and the now released Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Version 2012. Heck, some of you probably even remember that oversaturating the market with fighting games and fighting game revisions is what originally caused the fighting game scene to die out in the late nineties. So why is it that game developers like Arc System Works cannot learn their lesson?
It’s time for a little history lesson. A while back Arc System Works released BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. It was a brand new fighting game IP that played a lot like Guilty Gear. A few years passed and they released BlazBlue Continuum Shift, a sequel to the game that included three new characters, several new balance changes, a totally reworked guarding and bursting system, and an expanded array of gameplay modes. Continuum Shift only cost 40 dollars instead of 60 dollars, so the BlazBlue community for the most part found this to be a pretty good deal. Then Arc System Works started releasing DLC characters at eight bucks a pop, and, while that was a little expensive, they came along with an “unlimited” version of the character with a brand new move set and a whole host of new costumes to choose from, so much of the BlazBlue community thought this was a fair deal as well. Then Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition came out, which was essentially a balance patch for Super Street Fighter IV. Capcom charged 15 dollars to download this patch, or 40 bucks to pick up a brand new copy. Meanwhile Arc System Works released their BlazBlue: Continuum Shift 2 balance patch for free; giving characters entirely new moves, new combos, and greatly rebalancing the game. The BlazBlue community thought this too was a pretty damn good deal, considering that it was free.
Now, Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend has come out. It features one new character, a couple new balance changes, and some new game modes—and it’s a horrible deal! It’s easily the worst example of a new revision cash-in since Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting. Now that’s not to say the game isn’t good. The new modes are interesting, the balance patches make the game much less lopsided, and the new character, Relius Clover, is quite interesting to play. In fact, the game is designed quite well; it’s just nowhere near worth its 40 dollar price tag.
Let me explain. BlazBlue Continuum Shift: Extend comes complete with every DLC character that was released for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The natural question now is “what does this mean for the people who already spent 24 dollars on all three DLC characters?” The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Those 24 dollars were basically burned in the middle of a parking lot, because anyone who purchases Extend will gain access to them as well. Consider this as opposed to UMvC3, which didn’t give you access to the DLC characters from MvC3 unless you had purchased them in the first place. I honestly would have rather seen Arc System Works do this with Extend, because then I would have at least felt like my previous purchases were worth something.
These characters do get a brand new single-player story mode, which does a short re-cap of the events in Calamity Trigger, but that’s not saying much. Most BlazBlue fans already played through Continuum Shift’s story mode in order to unlock Mu-12. Since much of the story in Extend is exactly the same, going through it again is just tedious. Not only that, but Mu-12 comes pre-unlocked in this game, so if you are a hardcore competitive player you have no reason to play the story at all. If you are a more casual player that is genuinely interested in the story, you can’t transfer your save data over, so you’ll have to go through the chapters you already beat all over again.
There’s a new Unlimited Mars mode that puts you up against absurdly difficult A.I. opponents that all use overpowered “unlimited” versions of the cast. However, these unlimited versions also existed in previous versions of the game. They were hard to unlock, but many people decided to drop a few bucks to purchase them on the online store. Once again, this purchase now gets you absolutely nothing. In addition, the A.I. is so much more difficult in Unlimited Mars mode that it becomes incredibly un-fun to play for anyone who isn’t looking for the biggest challenge the game has to offer. Heck, most of the pro fighting game community doesn’t even take on this mode. There is also the new Abyss mode, which is really just a new take on survival mode, and Legion mode, which tries to simulate a strategy game experience but once again amounts to little more than another string of repeated battles.
That’s basically it; there isn’t anything else to speak of here that wasn’t already in the previous launch. What’s truly annoying is the fact that BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend’s balance changes are only available through buying a full $40 copy of Extend. You can’t just download the balance changes on your existing copy of Continuum Shift. This basically means that BlazBlue gamers don’t have a choice to remain with their previous version of the game if, say, they don’t care much about story mode or Relius Clover. Instead, they are basically being strong-armed into purchasing another 40-dollar game just so that they can stay current with the build of the game that is used in the tournament scene. Oh, and by the way, the characters are changed so much that you cannot just train on an old version of the game. Moves operate in entirely new ways and jumping right into Extend will make you feel like you have to learn the game all over again.
Don’t get me wrong, the main problem with Extend is monetary. If you have never played BlazBlue before, then this is an absolutely amazing game. It has tons of modes, interesting characters, and really good gameplay mechanics. Heck, its story is even compelling, a rarity in a fighting game.
The problem is that the “players who haven’t yet played Blazblue but still want to” market is very small. We’ve already seen two versions of the game on both home and handheld consoles. If you haven’t picked up the game by now, you probably aren’t going to. Instead, this leaves much of the Blazblue fandom with nothing more than a slap in the face for faithfully supporting Arc System Works by purchasing their DLC characters, costumes, and content.
If Arc System Works, say, gave us a choice to purchase Relius and the new balance patches for 15 dollars, much like Capcom did with Super Street fighter IV, I would be far less angry. At least then, the fan base could keep current with the game without purchasing a whole new release that provides little extra in the way of content. Instead, this is a 40-dollar compulsory buy to stay within the BlazBlue scene, and with games like Street Fighter X Tekken, Skullgirls, Under Night In-Birth, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena coming out, and games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, SoulCalibur V, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Mortal Kombat, and The King of Fighters XIII still strong in the fighting game scene, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend just isn’t worth the money.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.4 Graphics
The game still looks nice, but its sprite-based graphics are starting to look a little out of date. 4.0 Control
BlazBlue always played well, and the balance changes just make it play better. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
BlazBlue always played well, and the balance changes just make it play better. 1.0 Play Value
In terms of value, this is one of the worst fighting game re-releases yet. 2.0 Overall Rating – Poor
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