BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is a revised and updated version of the 2010 title BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The main aspect of the game is an injection of new characters (like Relius Clover) along with updates to existing ones. This is all due to there being a massive imbalance when it came to using certain characters in the game. So, much like you get everyone choosing your Barcelona’s and Manchester City’s in FIFA, on BlazBlue, only a select few characters were ever used both on and offline.
With that being said the game itself still lacks the character count you may get with your Tekkens and Soul Caliburs, even with the new update. The new title at least makes every character a viable option when facing off against one of your foes. In fact, one of the game’s greatest strengths is the way each person has their own unique feel to them, and you’ll instantly find ones that you prefer not only for their attacks, but also for their personality in the game.
The main gripe that you will have with this game yet again stems from the new characters. Why not just make them available through Xbox LIVE? Instead, Ark System Works have gone out and mass produced a new game that those who don’t own the original will simply push to one side and consider it nothing more than a DLC disc, and those who own the original may find themselves feeling hard done by having to spend an additional £40 for a couple of new faces.
On the upside, fans of the game will become enthralled once again in the new combos that come with the game. Lovers of Calamity Trigger would have spent hours perfecting every possible attack, counter and defence, and now they can add a few more strings to their bow and execute numerous new button configurations.
BlazBlues’ gameplay system has also found itself the subject of a number of adjustments. Most notably players can now ‘Burst’ using two special escape combos that can turn your defenceless character into the bouts victor in a matter of seconds. You start with just one, if you lose the first round you gain a second, giving you a bit of a helping hand come your next bout. Also each of the character’s attacks and gauges have also been ever so slightly tweaked to make for a better experience.
The game itself is designed around a set of three attacks: weak, medium and strong. This is coupled with a unique ‘Drive’ attack, that if you are a bit down on your luck and your HP is dwindling, it will regenerate your health bar with every successful attack. Jumping straight into it both on and offline you’ll have little success with your bog standard button bashing combos. Instead BlazBlue comes into its own with refined Tutorials, and once completed it is complemented perfectly by the game’s Challenge mode.
Once you have run through the Tutorials from start through to finish you’ll find yourself having a much better bearing on the game, and you’ll actually be a threat to those facing off against you. Like any tutorial you’ll find yourself bored at times, but if you’re wanting to get the most out of Continuum Shift Extend then you’d be advised to finish and refine it further through the milestones that await you in Challenge mode.
Challenge mode practically does what it says on the tin. You’ll be shown a challenge, the auto-bot players will complete said challenge if you need a hand, thus highlighting the best way for you to reach your goal. Then the reigns are handed over to you and you must replicate what you have seen before moving on to your next set of objectives.
Visually the game is a gem, it truly is stunning. Many 2D games come across as cheap, tacky and pretty dull - BlazBlue though is quite the opposite. The characters are nicely drawn and each move looks as unique as the next, with Drive attacks looking especially good. The game’s audio is also quite nice if a little repetitive at times. Hearing the same grunts time and again will remind you of a women’s Wimbledon final featuring Sharapova. The menu music, intros and attack sounds on the other hand are perfectly sliced into the game and the final product is not to be missed.
Online is also another positive for this title. Even with a vast majority of competitors being from Asia you’ll find yourself playing with little if any lag, which makes for a very enjoyable game. I must warn you though, if you don’t know what you’re doing, be prepared to be miffed after you’ve been torn limb from limb via twenty-five button combos against players who are so immersed in the game it’s almost as if they are a part of BlazBlue itself.
There is also a new game mode in the form of ‘UnlimitedMars’, all you’ll end up saying is ‘What was the point in that?’ Even after trawling through the Tutorial and Challenge mode, facing off against countless enemies on and offline and spending hours refining and memorising your button layouts, you will find yourself unable to even beat one of the ten opponents on this impossible new mode. It’s not fun or enjoyable and isn’t truly needed.
The game does have a steep learning curve, but if you get a grasp of it the results are very rewarding. The visuals are stunning, and is one of the best looking 2D games on the Xbox 360. Match this with the tweaks means that the game will feel a lot more enjoyable than it’s predecessor. The various modes will keep you busy for a very long time, and lag-free online gaming only adds to the game’s longevity. What’s more, once you have found ‘your’ character you will become so much more infused into Continuum Shift Extend that you’ll forget about most anything else.
Sadly though, at the end of the day, you can’t hide the fact that this game is nothing more than a downloadable content package that has been put on a disc and packed into a Xbox 360 case.