Guilty Gear Strive Review: Fighter of the Decade

*This review was provided by our fighting game correspondent Jay Hit, so thank you to Jay for reviewing Guilty Gear Strive and thank you to SCMedia for sending over a review copy.*

Fighting Game of the Decade

How Guilty Gear’s newest take on its franchise convinced me itll be a fighting game played for many years to come

From the moment I launched STRIVE I knew I was in for a ride, but would this be the type that left me sick afterwards or one where I would want to get back in line? I can now say without a doubt STRIVE is a ride I never want to get off! If you have never played a fighting game before or looking to get back into the genre I highly recommend picking this one up. The amazing visuals, simple & clean game play design and stellar sound track make for an amazing product!

The ‘Guilty Gear STRIVE’ official Logo in all its glory!

Combos and Ease of Play

You CAN Try these at home

Generally the first thing people think about when they hear ‘fighting games’ are the combos, you know those fast hitting moves that chain into each other while they melt away at your opponent’s health bar?!

            Well that’s for good reason too; Combos are pleasing to look at, the advantage they bring in-game is immediately obvious, and they are even funner to execute…but maybe not always the easiest. 

            Yes, combos are a main factor of the appeal to fighting games but I also believe they the main deterrent. If you can’t execute the motions required along with the muscle memory needed for the longer combos then you will hit a brick wall. No new comer should feel they can’t enjoy this genre due to an ‘execution barrier’ that’s why I am happy to say the combo in Strive are not only visually pleasing to look at but also easy to complete!

Leo unleashing a devastating combo on Ky!

            Fans of the series know that the beloved ‘gatling’ system is gone. The system that dictated how you could ‘flow’ your pressure and combos, it was flexible in past games allowing for freedom and creativity but in my opinion also confusion. It is replaced with a newly modified gatling system one that is more restrictive but it’s with in these restrictions that make learning this game easier. There is now only a few right or wrong answers in any situation as opposed to dozens. 

            There is debate in the community on whether these changes should of happened or if so if they should of been so drastic, I think there is room for that discussion and it can be constructive, however after playing this game with friends who have never touched another fighting game I am left with the impression that these were positive changes. 4 hit combos are now damaging, easy to do, and practical. 6 hit combos are ‘optimal’ amazing to pull off and leave new comers with a smile. Anyone can do these and it’s a joy to execute it for your first time. 

            That’s not to say all the depth was taken away, the roman cancel mechanic is back and better than ever. You can use this mechanic to cancel the start-up, active, or recovery frames of any given move or special usually used for offence for creating damaging combos. Now with the added changes you will be able to use it passively in neutral, or even defensively on while blocking and much more! This will surely be the life blood of the depth in this entry and I am looking forward to see what people come up with.

The Red Roman Cancel in action! Sol extends his combo for more damage.

            This game had an enormous challenge which many other competitive games face in newer installments. That is the battle of attracting new fans while also appeasing the loyal longtime fans, its hard no matter how you slice it but I think that balance is done well.

Characters

Your inner edgy teenage self is smiling right now

            STRIVE has introduced re-designs for all of their existing characters as well creating new characters for this installment and they all land out of the park! I realize what I just said is subjective at best but please just look at some of these yourselves.

I-NO and ZATO-1 new re-designs for STRIVE

            Fans of WGG know well that good looks can only take you so far, so does this roster bring a degree of uniqueness? Do characters play differently? Will I be able to find somebody who matches my style? Yes, yes and yes! The roster’s archetypes range from rush-down, to grapplers, to set play and even puppet.

            !Call of Duty analogy incoming! Imagine hopping into a game of Call of Duty, you start with the basic AR, 30 in the clip, not too good up close and not too great far away, but it gets the job done. After playing some more games you start to get a better idea of what style you like, will it be a sub-machine loadout for rushing or a sniper class for long range plays? The more you play the more you get a better idea of what is right and fun for you, and much in the same way is what a good fighting game roster should be able to provide, and this one accomplishes that.

            Plus, with 5 more character announced for DLC Season 1 I am excited to see the creativity of the others.

Sol and Anji new re-designs for STRIVE.

Community

The life span is over 9000!

            There’s no getting away from the fact that seriously improving in any games, including fighters, require a time investment. Nobody wants to see their investment soiled, so before giving time to something people like to make sure it has a large and growing community, that the end is nigh in sight, that the results of their practice will be something they can leverage for year to come. This is an area where I believe STRIVE shines the brightest. 

            The developers ‘Arc System Works’ are committed to this games life span and they have proved that commitment  through actions of the past projects so there shouldn’t be room for doubt. Updates will be frequents, balance will be topical, and the player base will be huge, it won’t be hard to find another fan of this game.

Two Players battling it out to the death!

            Which brings us to another problem and solution the developers have implemented *Cue the church music* ROLL BACK NETCODE! Through this type of net code your connection to your friends and opponents will be fast and steady. You will be able to enjoy this game with anyone in the world with relatively stable connection at all times. God, it’s a good time to be a fighting game fan!

            Don’t forget the HYPE that is eSports, Arcsys is no strangers to their games being featured in high entry, big payout tournaments and I for one cannot wait to watch this game being played at the highest level.

Complete package

OMG BECKY LOOK AT THAT…Mission Mode?

            Finally, I want to touch on the other features this game has. Your tried and true arcade mode is here and includes unique interactions between characters, It provides a good escape when just want to have some Solo fun. A survival mode is also present for those who wish for a bit more of a solo challenge. Of course we have a Two Player mode for duking it out with your friends on the same Couch and the Online mode with the amazing Roll back net code I touched on.

            As well as a Gallery mode and an expansive Glossary to pour through when you just want to chill out and enjoy some fantastic lore this franchise has to offer. No spoilers but I was also quite impressed with the Story Mode, in it you do not play just watch, but I found myself coming back to it and being entertained any time I needed a break for my hands!

The Tutorial mode showing you how to play the game.

                Can’t forget the Tutorial mode to get you acclimated with the buttons of the game and a Dojo mode for practicing. Even more impressive was a Mission mode which will put you into challenging scenarios you can play out and solve. This has so much great knowledge to learn that even someone like myself, who considers them self a longtime fan, was learning something new!

            Then to tie it all together the most amazing sound track that will be parading on while you fight your intense matches. STRIVE is truly a feast for the eyes and ears!

Conclusion

            Easy to learn, challenging to master, blistering visuals, and great character diversity all pumped through the veins of a strong community that loves this franchise, this is not only a wonderful sequel but a phenomenal fighting game.

            Now STRIVE has its problems, I didn’t mention many since there isn’t many but they are there. Some are built out of expectations for the series and preferences, and others are more grounded. I would of loved to see a frame data option in training mode, or a Juke-Box option where I can play songs from past games. However, the developers have already released their road map for Season 1 and promised more modes and improvements so I fully expect this game to only get better as time allows it.

            You’ve read the review so if it isn’t obvious by now I will say it clearly; Guilty Gear STRIVE is a must buy for any fighting game fan and a must try for any gaming fan!

Rob Tro

Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief / Co-Host of NAGP at Wicked Good Gaming / Not Another Gaming Podcast
Friendly Neighborhood physicist who just so happens to enjoy drinking 12 beers and playing videogames all night. Always streaming at Twitch.tv/WickedGoodGaming
Rob Tro

Rob Tro

Friendly Neighborhood physicist who just so happens to enjoy drinking 12 beers and playing videogames all night. Always streaming at Twitch.tv/WickedGoodGaming

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