BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend (BBCSE) is the most recent version of the BlazBlue series, but it doesn’t feel quite right. This game is similar to what Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition was to Super Street Fighter IV. It’s more of an update and makes you question if it deserved a full disc release instead of being DLC.
BBCSE has all of the standard modes: arcade, survival, online, versus, training, and a tutorial mode. All the modes are fun and well thought out, but they are pretty much staples to have in any fighting game at this point. There are new features added that tweak the game and give players something new to try out like the team battles and the new character Relius Clover.
The game play of BlazBlue stays true with its over the top anime style and in depth fighting system. Returning players will feel right at home with the mechanics that have become a staple of the series. There are still the Barrier Bursts, Heat Gauge, Guard Primers, Barrier Gauge, and health meter to keep up with while doing insane combos and damage. While new players might be over whelmed by all the meters to keep up with during a fight, there is still the easy mode that allows combos and specials that can activate at the push of a button.
Arc System Works has rebalanced of all the characters. With the exception of certain combos not working anymore, the biggest change from what I could tell is that almost everyone seems to have received a little bit of a damage reduction. People are going to have to work for their damage a little bit harder than what they’re used to. There are a lot of minor changes that might make some avoid certain characters, and use others they never thought of before. Most of the changes in this game are not going to be apparent to newcomers.
There are features and modes left out from the previous addition. Legion mode has replaced by two new modes called Abyss and Unlimited Mars. Abyss mode is a survival mode where the goal is to descend further down a line to get to the bottom. While doing this, challengers will get stronger and players can buy skill boosts for health, heat gauge, defense, and speed to help them get to the bottom of Abyss mode with in game money. The money is earned as you play the game’s different modes, and can also be spent in the gallery; where additional content can be unlocked like character colors and art. It’s a nice addition, but I don’t know why they had to do away with Legion mode completely.
Unlimited Mars mode is like a boss rush mode for fighting games. Each character fought in this mode is an unlimited character and the difficulty is increased. When a character is unlimited they have something special about them that makes them stronger or better than their original counterpart. For instance, Ragna has moves that are only available to him in a special state which drains his life in normal mode. But unlimited mode allows Ragna to have all those moves from the get-go without the life drain.
BBCSE has added one new character to the roster: Relius Clover; father of Carl Clover. Relius is a well-balanced and good addition to the cast of characters. With the addition to Relius, the roster now sits at 19 characters. The roster size is good, but it’s not going to impress anybody who bought the downloadable content for the BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. If you didn’t buy the DLC for that game then all the characters that were DLC (Makoto Nanaya, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, and Platinum the Trinity) will be available. Mu-12 will also be unlocked from the get-go so story mode will not be necessary to unlock her.
Story mode has been revamped for this new edition. They did add the storyline from the very first game for new people to the series. For those who are already in the know about the story, they have added story lines for all the previous DLC characters and Relius. The only problem is that story is still told through these boring static backgrounds with character art. They will talk more than there is actual fighting. It gets really tedious with all the different paths conversations can take you down to get 100% of the story. While it’s nice to have more story, there has to be better way than telling it in this outdated fashion.
Online and offline multiplayer is still where all the fun will be had. BBCSE still stands out as a fun fighter and this time they added new options to their player matches that are not available in previous editions. There are now team battles that can be held in lobbies, and there are multiple ways to set up the team battles. One way is to have each member of the team fight and the team with the most wins claims victory. The second way is to have two people fight and the winner takes on the next player from the opposing team. The interesting part is that the winner (depending on how the lobby leader set up the rules) can have their character return to full health, get a little health back, or no health back at all. These new team fights are fun and I hope they are used more than they are now.
The graphics are still the same hand drawn sprites and the stylized backgrounds. A lot of the graphics are recycled though, and there is only one new stage. I was hoping for a few more stages and maybe polish some of the older stages up a bit. The sound design uses a lot of the same tracks, but they did add a few new ones like “X-Matic.” The sound design is still superb and has more memorable background music than most other fighting games. Everything looks and sounds good, fitting the style of BlazBlue, but nothing seems to be improved.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend does exactly what it says in the title. It extends the longevity of previous BlazBlue games. The game adds a couple things here and there, and says here’s some more to tide you over till you can have the next rendition. This is fine if no one bought the downloadable content for the previous game, but some of those that bought that DLC might feel a bit cheated by this version. This is the most up-to-date, balanced, and packed version of BlazBlue ever, but a lot of the content in the game feels like a rehash of previous versions.
[Images via fightersgeneration]