Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Sammy’s popular heavy metal fighting series has returned to the PS2 with the newest installment, Guilty Gear X2. Featuring stylish rock and roll characters, elaborate special moves and some cool new modes, GGX2 should satisfy fans of the genre. The improved graphics, new moves, and additional characters will please those familiar with the series. We examine GGX2 and find out how these improvements make GGX2 a deeper, more satisfying experience that fans of 2D fighters shouldn’t miss.

While it is difficult to find innovation in the 2D fighting genre these days, implementing seemingly minor twists and tweaks in a familiar formula can make sequels quite interesting. Guilty Gear X2 takes everything that made the original game so much fun and adds a bevy of new play modes and characters. While the basics haven’t been changed dramatically, GGX2 has some really cool modes that set it apart from the pack. In addition to the standard arcade, versus and training modes, GGX2 includes some interesting gameplay variations that offer a lot of depth. In the Survival mode, the object is to beat as many opponents as you can on a single life bar, which can be quite challenging. Story mode allows you to go through a plot with your character, with the plot unfolding in cut-scenes between the bouts. Players can also view artwork and short anime cinemas in the Gallery mode. While only a few of these are available initially, more can be unlocked as you play the game.

These modes are solid and give the game a lot of depth, but the crowning achievement of GGX2 is the Mission mode, which is a lot like the one in Soul Calibur. In this mode, each mission has a set of requirements that need to be completed before that mission is won. Before each mission, you can select the mission from a menu that lists the set of parameters that need to be completed. Each mission is slightly different, and some objectives include being the last one standing when time runs out, surviving for a set length of time, or simply defeating an enemy. Some missions require you to fight without Psych Burst enabled, or may force you to fight with limited attacks. Other missions give you with reduced health that gradually declines due to poison. The enemy characters may also have enhanced attacks with double or triple damage and can have healing abilities, such as fast regeneration, enhanced Burst levels, or more powerful attacks. The parameters are indicated before each round, and since you can skip around, more challenging missions can be held until you’re confident in your skills. Mission Mode is the most challenging and difficult part of the game but also the most satisfying because it requires a great deal of skill. This is especially true later on as the mission requirements become increasingly difficult to achieve.

Players will find 20 playable characters in the game, with 14 returning and 6 new characters to choose from. As usual, there’s an even mix of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ characters, and the game has a good balance between the abilities of each. Players will find that GGX2’s feel and fighting mechanics are quite similar this time out with consistent controls and combo systems. GGX2’s trademark elaborate special moves such as the chain combos are very much present in the new installment. However, the standard moves are joined by a variety of new techniques including the Psych Burst system that give the game a new level of depth. Before you can begin to master these advanced techniques, you’ll need to master the basic moves such as jumps, throws, sweeps, and more. GGX2’s fighting system also features Dust moves, which knock an opponent of their feet and the related Sweep move. Sweeps are similar to the Dust moves except that they are performed while crouching which gives you extra cover.

GGX2 features some elaborate moves called One Point Techniques, which include Jump and Roman Cancels, Counter Hits, Recovery Direction and Staggering moves. The counter system that lets you to block an opponent and damage them when they’re vulnerable Jump and Roman cancels allows you to stop a move in its track and keep an enemy off-guard. If your character is hit, you can get up faster and take less damage after being hit using the Recovery move but the interesting thing here is that GGX2’s Recovery direction allows you to control the direction in which you stand up. Staggering moves allow you to dizzy an opponent and give yourself a free attack. The most interesting of the one-point moves is the Faultless Defense technique. This creates a special aura around the character who cannot be damaged by normal attacks until the Tension Gauge returns to zero, though puts you at a disadvantage because it usually means that you won’t be able to perform a one-hit kill in that round.

Simple combos, called Gatling Chains can be performed by chaining simple moves together, and these can be quite effective in standard combat, but there’s more to the game than these moves. One very important aspect of GGX2 you’ll need to understand is the Burst and Tension gauge and how they affect play. The Bust allows you to perform Psych Burst moves, which can devastate an enemy, while the Tension Gauge allows you to perform an awesome one-hit kill on an opponent accompanied by an over the top animation. However, players are penalized if they try to turtle to avoid combat. Taking to long in these passive positions will cause the Tension Gauge to drop, all the way back to empty in some cases. You have to wait until either of these are filled up to use these moves, but they can be quite powerful. The new moves add depth to the game, yet integrate themselves seamlessly into the existing fighting system without throwing off the balance. This allows the strategic elements of each battle to come to the fore, making GGX2 a lot more challenging this time out. The fighting system is quite elaborate and there are numerous subtleties and nuances to master, though the learning curve isn’t that terribly steep.

Even though the fighting system is elaborate, GGX2 is surprisingly easy to get into. It uses a 4-button layout that means the standard PS2 controller offers excellent performance. Obviously, using an arcade stick offers superior performance and having one will maximize the fun you have, but isn’t essential. The controls in GGX2 are tight and responsive, with the fast-moving, fluid action making for a solid fighting game experience. While performing some of the more complex special moves can be difficult to achieve, you can call up a moves list during the match. Additional help is available by playing GGX2’s extensive Training mode that allows you to learn the standard and special moves. The training mode allows you to adjust the settings such as Gauge levels, blocking meters and more, which allows you to master some of the more elaborate moves.

Guilty Gear X2 is more than a little inspired by Heavy Metal bands of the 80’s and the characters have names of some of the classic bands. The soundtrack compliments the feel with a blaring mixture of loud guitars and heavy metal thunder that adds to the intensity of the experience. Visually, GGX2 is one of the more impressive 2D fighters to date with fluid animation that offers non-stop action at an incredibly fast speed, with decent-looking backgrounds that are colorful and vibrant. The anime rock and roll look is consistent throughout with character designs that have a definite 80’s hair band vibe evident. GGX2 also features wild, over-the-top special animations used when you perform a special move. The sequel’s graphics seem about even with the first game, which is disappointing on one level. Aesthetically, GGX2 is one of the better-looking traditional fighters to come along in quite some time, and using a hard-rock motif instead of the usual anime clichés gives GGX2 a unique style.

While Guilty Gear X2 won’t win any awards for originality or innovation, it’s a solidly entertaining and challenging title with fluid controls and blindingly fast action. Die-Hard fans of the series will love the small tweaks and enhancements that add depth and strategy to the pre-existing game mechanics. These changes might seem like incremental improvements, but they are welcome additions to the series. However, GGX2’s surprisingly addictive Mission mode is a significant improvement that adds depth to an already appealing franchise. The visuals are excellent and while the heavy metal feel seems odd, the production values compensate for this. Guilty Gear X2 is highly recommended and will most likely appeal most to the hardcore fighting fan looking for an highly-polished, well-balanced fighter but casual fans will probably enjoy eye-candy and fantastic animation as well.

> Related Reviews 

Capcom vs. SNK 2
Capcom vs. SNK
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Gamecube)
Virtua Fighter 4 (PS2)
Tekken 4 (PS2)