Initially, when I only had access to the tutorial section of the game, while the rest was downloading, I was taken by it. The newly introduced Stylish Mode was pleasantly surprising as it simplifies the game by allowing you to chain moves together without having to learn overly complicated button combinations. While elevating your self-confidence, Stylish Mode definitely takes away possibilities of competitive versus modes. But if you just want to play a few rounds with your friends, who are not normally fans of fighting games, or video games in general, BlazBlue‘s Stylish Mode is definitely a setting for you. It changes the awkward parades of missed punches that are prominent across most fighting games into visually impressive spectacles, and no one will surely feel cheated by the game as the odds are mostly even. I say “mostly” simply because Stylish Mode is not consistent across all characters featured in the game. Some are capable of unloading a 15-hit combo with four presses of the square button, whereas others can barely hit four. At times, this can be infuriating, especially when you are being juggled in the air for 10 seconds at the time.
Inconsistency is a theme that runs throughout the entire game, and because of it, it loses most of its appeal. At times it seemed like it was created by two different teams that set out to create two completely different games. And the game’s graphical display portrays this issue most accurately.
Game follows a well known Japanese art style which will make fans of the franchise feel right at home, but the execution of it is not entirely consistent throughout. Character models are inch perfect when presented within the character select screen or the story mode slide show. But when put to test during a battle, all with no exception differ in quality to their static counterpart. Contour lines which entail all characters in their entirety are jagged, uneven, and show that they’re nothing more than poor renders of the character models which are used to present them within the character select screen. While playing thorough it I couldn’t shake off the feeling that characters might have been simply up-scaled, and therefore lost a lot of their aesthetic quality in the process.
The graphical incompetence of BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma Extend doesn’t end on characters, as stages, or battle-arenas as some prefer to call them are just as poor. However, substandard execution of the battle grounds which developers have used to stage the in-game fights, makes a much worse impression than the mediocre character models.
In-game arenas are mostly three dimensional, unlike the characters. And personally I found that placing objects modeled within different dimensions on the same screen is not as appealing as some may think, especially when both are lousily executed. However, where characters might have had a ”few rough edges”, arenas were rough throughout. Not a single aspect of any arena was of high or even moderate quality. Three dimensional portions were all poorly textured, as all graphical overlays were blurred and stretched out over various objects. And said objects themselves weren’t that good either. One of the stages featured a wheel which was the focal point of the entire arena, and the biggest problem with said wheel was the fact that it had a shape of a hexagon. And once the poor texturing was added to the mix, the whole arena was rather laughable.
Besides the typical Versus Mode and Endless Battle Mode, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend also offers a plethora of other modes that you can indulge yourself in. However, just like the rest of the game, they’re not very good, in fact, Story Mode, the most important mode of all, is absolutely abysmal. It’s only a few hours long, and from what I’ve played, most of it is covered by cutscenes which feature poorly animated anime characters on top of a single piece of artwork. In most fighting games, cutscenes interrupt fights, however, in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend, fights, or rather a single fight, interrupts cutscenes. Cutscenes which are neither good or interesting. And to top it all off, a majority of the featured characters use voices that are neither fitting or reasonable, and ultimately makes the experience unbearable. And more often than not, you’ll find yourself repeatedly tapping X in order to skip all of this nonsense.
Once the parade of nonsense is over the game it self is quiet enjoyable. As move-sets do not feature hundreds of 20 button combination for simple three hit combos, for each and every fighter. But on the other hand the simplicity of the combat system makes the game inferior in comparison to the others, as the catalogue of pain is limited not only for a single character but for the entire roster. And this makes the combat not only tedious, but also predictable. Because once you learn one move-set you’ll know most of them if not all, as mostly they only differ in animation.
The only thing that separates BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend from other fighting games is the fact that some combinations require you to input not only a simple move, but also the right variety of said attack. Some more complex attacks will require you to step in a certain direction and carry out a light punch, which then has to be followed by a medium kick. And this means that in order to carry out the combination correctly, you’ll have to first step forward, then stop for a split second to carry out a light punch, which can only be executed when standing still. Then you’ll need to continue stepping forward while pressing X in order to carryout a medium strength kick, which can only be executed when in motion. And this adds a certain level of depth to the game, which is essential to the genre. But at the same time it may infuriate some players as a split second mistake may result in an absolute disaster, which may ultimately put you in the loosing position.
BlazBlue Chrono: Phantasma Extend is not the high quality game that many expect from this generation of hardware. Also its setting and narrative, which are target at the fans of the franchise, may not be for absolutely everybody. But the price point at which the game is set, suggests that both publisher and developer acknowledge this fact. And if you are prepared to ignore the archaic graphical display, and irritating voice acting, you’ll be able to get quiet few hours of enjoyment out it.