Hands-onGuilty Gear X

We played a few rounds of the PS2 version of this gorgeous fighter.

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Recently pulled off of the Dreamcast release calendars and now slated for a PS2 release, Guilty Gear X is finally coming to the States, via none other than Sammy Entertainment. Proof positive of this is the 85 percent complete port of the game received today. Essentially, the game seems to be in final form; the only aspect yet to be fully fleshed out is the in-game text, according to Sammy.

Our initial impression is that the game seems to have made the jump unscathed. While we have yet to examine both the Japanese Dreamcast version and this latest PS2 burn side by side, neither the best-of-the-breed high-res characters nor the bright effects they produce seem any worse for wear. No performance-related hit is evident either, as everything is moving just as swiftly and fluidly as it did on the Dreamcast. Developer Arc Systems has apparently worked all the technical wizardry required to make the game work effectively on the PS2.

Guilty Gear X is a 2D fighter with Street Fighter 3's pacing, combined with some of the livelier elements of Capcom's "versus" games. The characters you play as are usually armed with melee weapons, though some wield magical powers or, often, extensions of their own bodies, as substitutions. The game is designed around a four-button scheme, which lets you punch, kick, and deliver light and heavy slashes--"slashes" generally means attacks delivered by whichever weapon the character wields. In addition to standard supermoves, Guilty Gear X lets you access crazy one-hit kill moves. Referred to by some as "destroyers," these moves are quite deadly, though not very easy to pull off. First, you have to sufficiently charge your supermeter and switch to tension mode (during which your superbar gradually depletes). While the meter is depleting, you have to perform the sequence (something along the lines of double fireball plus punch, and such) and connect the attack. Only by scoring a direct hit will the instant kill take effect. And even if it does, you'll only win the round (as opposed to the whole match, as in the original Guilty Gear). Instant kills aside, GGX benefits from many of the game mechanics we expect from modern 2D fighters. Various defensive moves are included--dead angles and fortress defenses, specifically--which mix up the turtle game a bit. The former is more of a traditional counter, while the latter musters a sort of uberdefense, which saves you from taking block damage. Fighters can also recover while in the air, and all manner of juggles and air combos are possible. Finally, Arc Systems has mixed up things a bit by including a mechanic called "roman cancels." Similar, in a sense, to the Marvel vs. Capcom 2's team cancels, this mechanic lets you cancel a move halfway through its animation, granting you full recovery and the ability to enter in another's command midway through. All at the cost of half your tension, of course.

We can wax at length about how great Guilty Gear X looks, but we'll let the hearty media update we've put together do that for us. We'll take a closer look at the game as the week progresses, however, so look to us next week for a full preview. In the meantime, enjoy the screens and movies, and scope our coverage of the Dreamcast game if you've any remaining curiosity.

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