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Review

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend Review (PS Vita)

A huge kick to the face.

I play a fair amount of games every month. I’m by no means the best gamer in the world, but I can hold my own in most genres. However, loading up 2D fighting game ‘BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend’ for the first time sent a few shivers down my spine. Most recent fighting games I’ve played let you jump into a training mode of sorts, allowing a little one-on-one sparring with a computer controlled character. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is a little bit stricter than that.


What's background and what's trying to kick me in the face?
Split into four groups, the tutorial mode covers over thirty different lessons and is one of the most intimidating things I’ve ever seen. Starting off at “Beginner” (and openly questioning your intelligence) the tutorial soon starts throwing around phrases such as “Cancelling”, “Heat Gauge”, “Mix-ups” and “Wake-Up” and will not let you progress until you’ve perfected each one. It’ll then provide strategy sessions on every single character in the game.

It’s fair to say that this game isn’t for the half-hearted. If you’ve not got a few dozen hours to spare you might as well stop reading this and go and play something else.

Still with us? Marvellous, then perhaps a little history lesson is in order. Developed by Arc System Works, the BlazBlue franchise hit consoles back in 2009 with BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. It went down well, so a sequel was released titled BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (which was then updated and named Continuum Shift II). As you can guess by the title the Vita game is an extension of this, rather than something totally new.

As with all fighting games, the main purpose is to reduce your opponent’s health bar to zero during a bout, although Extend calls these “Rebels”. Broken down to its most basic, the game’s fighting mechanic relies on you stringing together light, medium, heavy and Drive attacks. A Drive attack is character specific, coming with a special bonus such as draining a slither of your opponent’s health and adding it to your own.

This is all child’s play, though, compared to how deep you can go if you really want to become good at the game. Dashing, Air Dash, Throws, Back Steps, Cancels, High Jumps, Revolver Action (cancelling the animation of an attack and transitioning into another attack so that the hits come out in rapid succession); the list seems to go on and on. Depending on the attacks you use, your Heat Gauge should start to fill during the course of the bout, opening up even more options.

One of the more common uses for the Heat Gauge is to perform a Distortion Drive, which is akin to Street Fighter’s Super Move. Performing a Rapid Cancel will also use up part of the Gauge, but allow you to cancel what you are doing and move into another attack. The big one though is Astral Heat, which is your earth shattering “pull this off and you’ve won” style move. This move needs the Heat Gauge to be at 100% full, plus a number of other requirements.

There is so much to take in; it can sometimes feel like staring into the abyss. Luckily the characters are such an eclectic bunch so experimentation into who suits you best is a pleasure. It also seems to mostly avoid the genre stereotypes, such as the big strong/slow guy and the weak girl who is ridiculously quick; you can fight as spider/blob for goodness sake!

Something Arc System Works has introduced is a “Stylish” fight system, which is geared towards fighting noobs such as myself. It removes a lot of the game’s intricacies whilst still allowing for some flashy moves (button bashing!). A handy addition, but in my opinion it’s worth learning how to fight the hard way.


It's a fairly familiar art style.
In terms of content, Extend certainly doesn’t disappoint. As well as a Story mode, full of OTT posturing and angst, there’s also Arcade, offline Verses, Score Attack, a series of challenge missions for each character, and Abyss Mode (defeat enemy waves). Exclusive to Extend is the Unlimited Mars mode, which pits you against some “extremely intelligent computers”. This translated to me getting my backside kicked over and over again as the computer destroyed me. I’ve even got the trophy to prove it. Basically it’s a mode for those who are more than competent at the game.

For the competitive souls among you there is an online multiplayer mode, although this is the chink in Extend’s armour. The matches I played ranged from totally unplayable due to lag to absolutely fine. It’s a bit of a gamble as to what quality experience you’re going to get.

Visually Extend is the business, making good use of the Vita’s screen. The Distortion Drives and Astral Heat in particular pop right off the screen, and the backgrounds surpass those found in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It all licks along without a hint of slowdown too; once again proving Sony’s new kid on the block has some guts to go with the looks.

Pros

  • Looks fantastic
  • A lot to learn
  • Very in-depth tutorial
  • Loads of content
  • Varied characters

Cons

  • Online is so inconsistent
  • Those who own Continuum Shift (II) will find it all very familiar

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is a brilliant fighting game that will take an absolute age to master. If you are up for a challenge then set aside a few days and immerse yourself in everything the game has to offer. The only drawback is that the online is incredibly inconsistent at the moment, which is a real pity as it’s a major part of the experience. Luckily there is a wealth of offline content to get stuck into, and hopefully an online patch will be released to sort out the issues.

Score: 9/10

13 Comments
  1. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Tempted. Big install?

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:06.
    • Dan Lee
      Common like the rest of us.
      Since: Jun 2010

      Over 3GB.

      Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:09.
      • nofi
        One for all.
        Since: Forever

        Oh. Won’t bother downloading it then.

        Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:21.
      • Tarbun84
        Member
        Since: Feb 2012

        Ouch

        Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 12:52.
  2. kjkg
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I looked at picking this up the other day, but then remembered I completely suck at fighting full stop.

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:08.
  3. Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Really wish there was a demo. I suck at beat em ups overall so I doubt I would be any better at this one but at least a trial would help me make my decision

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:14.
  4. Taylor Made
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    might pick this up never played BlazBlue games before.

    This has nothing to do with the article but I recently realized something on the Vita, what the hell does the ‘select’ button do on the Vita?

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:31.
    • Eldave0
      andUandU
      Since: Aug 2008

      The only time I’ve used it so far is to bring up my map when playing Unit 13 and something similar on Uncharted if I recall

      Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 09:48.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        So the same as a DS3 then! :P

        Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 10:29.
  5. Jag
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    This and Rayman have to be the best looking titles on Vita.
    The OLED screen means that these games look better than on home consoles, the colours are so bright and vivid!
    BlazBlue is definitely worth picking up, the unique style of play and the very individual characters both combine to give a special experience.
    Also beginner’s shouldn’t worry too much because, as mentioned, there is a comprehensive tutorial. If you still struggle there is the “Stylish” input mode means you’ll be pulling off flashy combos with ease so you can enjoy the epic story mode too.

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 10:17.
  6. Shakugan
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    I already own Continuum Shift, so i won’t be getting this. :(

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 10:50.
  7. Omac_brother
    Member
    Since: Nov 2011

    I suck donkey balls at fighting games, so decided to give this a miss so far. Once I have finished U:GA, Unit 13 and FIFA, I might pick this up because it seems like a complete time sump.

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 11:03.
  8. Tarbun84
    Member
    Since: Feb 2012

    Its nice to see a lot of people in the same boat as me who just cant seem to get to grips with beat em ups.

    Comment posted on 13/03/2012 at 12:52.

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