HomeReviews4.5/5 ReviewGuilty Gear -Strive- Review

Guilty Gear -Strive- Review


Strangely, given how much I love a fighting game, I have never played a Guilty Gear game until now. 

So, to coincide with the launch of the latest version, Guilty Gear -Strive-, playable via Xbox Game Pass, I decided to have a blast and see what it is all about. I mean, how hard can it be?

Developed by ARC SYSTEM WORKS, this installment of the series is apparently the seventh in line, and has been available on the rival Sony consoles since 2021. It is also the best selling game in the entire franchise, with over a million sales racked up in just over a year. So, now it has come to the Xbox, has the wait been worth it, or should we all go back to waiting for Street Fighter 6?

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Let’s have a look at the story here as a kick off, and what can I say, there certainly is one to look at! In fact, there is an entire section of the game that is purely dedicated to the story of the game, and in a strange move, this isn’t a story that you actually play through. No, what the story option does from the main menu is take you through a series of anime films, each about twenty minutes long, filling you in with not only who has done what to whom, but also delivered via some pretty cool action sequences too. All in all, I like this way of explaining a narrative, and it all works really well. 

However, the narrative is so complicated, and features so many people doing things, that it made my head spin. The main takeaway from this series of films is that one of the main characters has the best name ever in a fighting game – Sol Badguy, and ironically he is one of the heroes. 

Anyway, I’m going to leave the story there, and if you haven’t visited the Guilty Gear world before, just watch the videos to get all caught up. But it does give me the chance to move onto the presentation of the game, and here the news is equally good. 

The characters are big and bold, beautifully designed and animated, and once you get into the swing of it, the sheer speed and flashiness of the fighting moves on offer in Guilty Gear – Strive- is absolutely breathtaking. The action never slows down either, and the sheer amount of heavy lifting that the graphics system is doing is very impressive. The soundtrack has not been neglected either, with crunching impacts, stirring music and fully voiced cutscenes all helping to set the scene. All in all, this is a fighting game done right, at least as far as the presentation is concerned. 

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So, what about the actual fighting action, how does that stack up? Well, again, very well indeed. There are two main sections to be explored in Guilty Gear -Strive-: the online world and the offline world. Offline is where I would start if I were you, as unless you are some kind of gaming prodigy, the folk lurking in the online lobbies are all very practiced, ready to kick you square in the buttocks at a moment’s notice. As an example, I obviously had to test the online fighting system, and so having cleared the tutorial, I was placed on a tier of a tower. In this tower, you can explore various different things, and best of all, there is even a fishing mini-game where you can spend some of the in-game currency you earn in exchange for the chance to unlock new cosmetic items, new character colour variations, or even new dress up bits for you avatar that you use in the online world. 

Once you are fully dressed and ready to rumble, you have to approach a battle point and ready up, then wait for a challenger to appear. My first match, as a lowly level 1 character, was with a guy who was level 38 – this went about as well as you’d expect with not really knowing what I was doing. I got a sound spanking and was sent down a level in the tower. Believe me when I say that they don’t take any prisoners online. However, the good news is that the netcode that runs in the background is super stable, and you are able to choose your region in order to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. I have been very impressed with the online modes, both ranked and unranked, and everything is lick and smooth. 

Chastened by my drubbing in the online world, I decided to return to the safer waters of the offline modes, and again there is a lot of content to go at here. There is an arcade mode, where you follow the traditional path and defeat character after character, looking for a victory against the boss after Stage 8. This is the best place to practice, I feel. Apart from the training mode, of course, which is split into three sections – the tutorial, which gives you the basics of moving and striking, the Dojo where you are tasked with fulfilling a series of missions, some of which feel impossible to me, requiring the dexterity of an octopus in order to hit the right button combinations, and finally free practice, which allows you to practice those special moves until they are second nature. There is also an option to fight CPU controlled opponents, or that will allow a friend to join in for some fisticuffs. It’s a great way to decide who does the washing up, although my son is getting worryingly good as we go on. 

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All in all, there is a lot of content and a whole host of action on offer in Guilty Gear -Strive-. While the character roster is completely mental (and whoever came up with the Faust character has clearly spent too much time being Voldo in SoulCalibur 2), I haven’t been able to find a huge amount wrong with the game. The complexity is off putting at first, with so many options available both on the offense and defense (Roman cancel or Instant block, anyone?), but stick with it and while it never becomes easy, especially online, it does start to make sense. 

If you are looking for a fast and furious fighting game to play, may I suggest you have found it with Guilty Gear -Strive-?

Guilty Gear – Strive- is on the Xbox Store

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