Are you in the mood for a weird Japanese fighting game? Does The King of Fighters XV seem a little too pedestrian and mainstream for you? Are you craving a game that makes absolutely no sense, and makes no apology for it? Well, I have been playing just the very game to scratch that Anime/fighting game crossover itch.
Going by the name of Phantom Breaker: Omnia, this comes courtesy of the clever people over at Rocket Panda Games. What I didn’t know, prior to doing my research for this review, is that this is actually a remake of the original Phantom Breaker: Extra that was released on the Xbox 360 way back when. So, can a game that is more than a decade old still cut the mustard, or are we better off firing up Tekken 7 again?
Now, the story is the least important part of any fighting game, and so it remains here. Things happen and anime style girls kick each other in the face, and you’re all caught up. However, there is a bit more to it than that, as I shall now explain. For reasons that aren’t abundantly clear, a man called Phantom is going around and offering to make people’s dreams come true, if they will agree to become Duelists and kick seven shades out of all comers. There are people who are trying to stop Phantom, called Phantom Breakers, and there are others trying to stop all Duelists, as apparently fighting can cause disruption to the space time continuum. Oh yeah, these Duelists can also be the same person from a different reality. All clear? Excellent.
With the story all wrapped up in a neat little bow, let’s have a look at the presentation of the game next. The characters are well designed, and very, very, anime in style; all short skirts, tiny noses and big eyes, as well as some truly impressive weaponry. The actual design of the characters is very good indeed, and the animation as they fight is also pretty good. I say only pretty good as it just feels like some frames of animation are missing, so the moves don’t flow into each other quite as smoothly as I feel they should. There’s a certain amount of jerkiness to be seen on screen, especially when it gets busy; which is pretty much all the time, to be fair.
Soundwise the news is a lot better, with very good voice over work and fighting sound effects all present and correct, sounding spiffing.
So, the main thing that anyone comes to a fighting game for is over the top violence, and Phantom Breaker: Omnia has you covered. Each character has an arsenal of special moves, which are pulled off by the usual string of inputs, or by blindly mashing the buttons, Eddy Gordo style, whichever you find easiest. A nice touch is that each character can also choose from one of three fighting styles when you pick them. There is Quick style, which makes the protagonist faster, as you may expect, gives them a double jump, and also makes them a little more fragile. Hard Style is basically the opposite; slowing them down but able to hit much harder, also gaining access to Solid Armour. Finally, Omnia style doesn’t grant any particular boost, but raises each character’s stats a little across the board.
Choosing the right style to match your ideas can have a big impact on the game, so for instance, pairing a character like Sophia, who has a massive weapon, with the Quick style can let you overwhelm your opponents in short order. Stranger characters, such a L, can work with any style, but the best advice I can give is to experiment and see what works for you. With twenty characters to choose from, there is no shortage of people to try out.
The balance of the fighters is pretty good, and each character has a counter that can be used. There are so many options in the fighting system that it is pretty dizzying, to be honest. The blocking system, to use this as an example, has a lot of different things that you can do. You can block, as you’d expect, but with timing, it is possible to either parry or slip an attack completely, leaving your opponent open. Attacking at the same time an attack is about to land can cause a clash, which then can be utilised to press the advantage. There are strong, medium and light attacks, and in addition there are overclock attacks and there are special attacks; the system is very deep indeed. However, in a bad move, you can achieve a lot of these fancy attacks by mashing the buttons, and quite often the story mode devolves into a mad button pressing exercise.
There are a lot of modes to go at in Omnia, ranging from Story mode through the usual single player modes, score and time attack and an endless battle mode as well. There is the standard couch versus mode, and there are also online options. However, the online mode is completely dead, so you’ll struggle to find a single match online. Lucky there’s a lot of offline content to go at, eh?
In conclusion, Phantom Breaker: Omnia is a technically deep, good looking fighting game, but it is ultimately hamstrung by a lack of polish. The controls lend themselves to panicky button pressing, the action is a bit jerky at times, and while it is quite enticing, it isn’t on the same level as something like KOF XV. If you want a fighter that is a bit different, this could fulfil the brief, but it is not the most technically accomplished game you’ll ever play.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia is over at the Xbox Store