Short Version: It’s fantastic. The story mode delivers in creating a strong and satisfying ending while also creating an awesome fighting game that has some great new characters and improvements to the mechanics that place it above and beyond many fighting games out there. If you care about fighting games in any way, you need to try out the enormous variety of modes and see how you like it. I highly recommend this game.
Long Version: As a person who has been following the BlazBlue games since the very first day it came out, I could not be happier to see a fighting game series like this one grow and conclude in the way that it did. Even within all the Street Fighters, King of Fighters and Mortal Kombats, Blazblue was the one that really captivated me and got me more into the fighting game genre. This feeling I first had is still very much present during the conclusion of this series’ story arc.
The Wheel of Fate Is Turning…
Blazblue: Central Fiction is the fourth installment in the popular Arc System Works fighting game series. This one is particularly important due to the fact that this is supposedly the grand finale for the game’s story arc involving Ragna The Bloodedge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be any more Blazblue games, or that the story won’t continue in some way, but it’s certainly a great opportunity to tie up a ton of loose ends. The game delivers on this beautifully through it’s extensive Story Mode, where pretty much everything is explained and everyone gets some sort of closure or continuation to their individual stories.
In this mode, you are presented with an incredibly well made visual style of presenting the narrative, with many illustrations, movement and intriguing dialogue to keep you busy. This mode even has a database for reading up on anything you don’t understand and an optional 30-minute refresher course on everything that has happen in the story so far. It’s chock full of detail and has a ton of heart put into it, especially when factoring in extra stuff like the infamous gag reels and sub stories (no “Teach Me, Ms. Litchi!” though, which sucks…). Plus, the actual contents of the story, including it’s ending was so well done to the point that it actually made me fairly emotional when I saw the credits rolling. The one and only thing that frustrates me about this whole thing though is the voice acting.
This Game Should’ve Been In English
Regardless of how great I think the Japanese voices are, I had spent the majority of my time playing the whole series with English voices up until this point. I personally thought that the English dub was not only fitting, but also incredibly well done. I seriously think that the English voices make more sense within the context of the Blazblue lore, are better executed and also fit very nicely with the way that the text is localized. It is very rare to see an English dub that actually surpasses the original Japanese source material, which is why I’m incredibly upset to say that these voices are nowhere to be seen in Central Fiction.
As far as my knowledge goes, it seems that the main reason for a lack of an English dub was due to wanting to release the game 6 months early, rather than using that time to fully voice THE GAME THAT HAS THE GRAND FINALE TO THE STORY in the same way that they did for all the other games. Why they decided to not include a dub at the very end is completely baffling to me. Could you imagine watching the original Star Wars trilogy in English, but then Return of Jedi is inexplicably dubbed in German? Sure, you’ll get subtitles, understand what’s going on and essentially have the same experience, but it simply doesn’t feel the same and completely undermines the incredible work of the English voices, which is especially noticeable during battles.
But Seriously Though…Should’ve Had The English Dub
One of my favorite things to do during fights was to pin certain characters against each other and listen to what their special dialogue was like, based on what kind of story-based connection they had. It gave the game more replay value and continued to show the incredible attention to detail that Arc System Works gave to make these characters deeper and more special. Unfortunately, since the English dub is gone and the battles don’t have any subtitles, the enjoyment that I had from doing that has now vanished like an overly curious scientist falling into the Boundary. This bothers me much more than any one of you can imagine. Whatever amount of frustration you people think I have over this is wrong, because it’s probably even more than that. Even the Azure Grimoire itself can’t handle the “dream” I have to live in a world where Central Fiction has an English dub; with the voices that I grew to love over many years of following the series, without being made a fool of when the finish line was in sight. Anyway, that is pretty much the only piece of meaningful criticism that I can give, because the rest of the game is absolutely fantastic!
Just to give you a friendly reminder: this is a review for a fighting game, and a really damn good one at that. The character roster is huge, with a solid amount of new challengers that are incredibly fun to use. On top of that, all of the older characters have been re-tooled and changed to have more attacks and faster movements. They have even added some more mechanics in order to make the fights more fun and on the offensive side, rather than favoring defense. The character sprites look amazing and the animation is solid, even though the UI for the life bar and such got scaled back in a way that feels like a complete step backwards from the iconic designs from previous games. In any case, anything that involves the fighting runs as smooth as a knife through liquid seither.
Great Fighting! If Only It Was In English…
Still, if you are new to the series and feel a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry, since the game has an extensive Tutorial Mode that will tell you pretty much anything you need to know about how to play, even when speaking about specific characters. Pretty soon, you’ll be pretty knowledgeable and ready to fight. Even if everything comes in through one ear and out the other, you can still activate a Stylish Mode, in which you can simply button (s)mash and have a bunch of cool moves automatically happen without any effort, although it comes at the cost of less damage done and other restrictions.
Is any of this not good enough for you? Well, how about playing with an enormous amount of memorable stages, an incredibly good soundtrack with tons of songs and more game modes than you can shake a Nox Nyctores at? One of my biggest complaints with recent fighting games was the severe lack of single-player game modes to play, with most games showing off the bare minimum in a lackluster story mode, arcade, versus, a gallery and online play. Some of these games don’t even have tutorials, which I find frustrating. Blazblue: Central Fiction however contains all of that and a lot more to give. From a brand new Abyss Mode to a larger Arcade Mode, Score Attack, Speed Star, challenges and much, much more, this game is packed with so much content that it can put any non-Arc System Works fighting game to shame. This is great, especially for people like me who have no interest in ever playing with another person at all. Every mode is pretty fun to go through and even have some addictive hooks that can make you boot up the game just to play one particular mode, similar to how I have been doing with the new Abyss Mode.
But Like…Seriously. English Dub. Should’ve Had It.
Anyway, I could literally be here for days talking about how awesome it all is, both from a story standpoint and a pure fighting game one too, so I’ll keep it clear and say the following: this game is awesome. The lack of an English dub breaks my heart, but the sheer amount of love, attention and content that was packed into this installment is astounding, in a way that surpassed my initial expectations. Also, I own every single Blazblue game on my PS Vita, so it would’ve been nice to see this game also come out for one of my favorite portable devices. Aside from that, the entire game is excellent. The fighting mechanics are top notch and anything else that isn’t that is visually striking and pleasing to my ears. Aside from Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, this is easily one of the best fighting games I’ve played all year, and if anyone reading this is in any way interested in trying this out, I highly recommend that you do, even if it’s only once.
…But seriously though, the game should’ve been in English. Don’t take away options from the players, for it’s never a good thing.