Guilty Gear Strive
The 'Smell of The Game' Is Just As Sweet Across Console Generations
Guilty Gear Strive is a recent example of an interesting case study, seeing how a recent game stacks up against the previous console generation. Especially when the current generation of console gaming is leagues above what was capable in the past. As the number of console generations continues for years to come, the line of quality becomes more blurred to the point where graphics and presentation are no longer a talking point. Instead, it’s more impressive for next-generation consoles to run optimally compared to the past and Guilty Gear Strive is a perfect anecdote of this.
The basis of this preamble came about when looking at the First Take on the PS5 version of Strive, as someone who has not only recently reviewed the PS4 version, but also owns the PC version as well. This puts me in a unique situation where I can compare and contrast all three versions as, while similar and virtually the same game, many intricacies differ from each version in several ways.
The first thing out of the way is the graphics and the lack of options involving adjusting them. There is no “quality vs performance” options on the PS5 port, no HDR, motion blur, or any major settings to choose from. This was the case for the PS4 version, but I was surprised that the same was for the PS5 version as usually the superior version comes bundled with a bunch of goodies to make things even more pleasing on the eyes.
The PS5 Makes What's Already Beautiful, Pristine.
One go-around through the training mode is enough to see that corners were certainly not cut, but it also serves as a testament to how amazing the PS4 version is, as the graphics are the PS4 version but cranked up to the highest fidelity in 4K glory. The gameplay is as solid as it was on previous-gen yet with the added bonus of better lighting, including stages where the sun rays and rain effects can be seen in greater detail.
Depending on the stage, the character models are also reflected as a sunny stage casts a bright, vivid filter on the fighters. Conversely, a dark gloomy rainy stage will cast the fighters in a more subdued light. This range of dynamic usage of colors is evident in other fighters, but not to the great detail that Guilty Gear Strive does on the PS5. It’s a beautiful game to watch just as it is a beautiful game to play as hit sparks and flashing letters grace the screen in a way that only director Ishiwatari can pull off.
Guilty Gear Strive's Story May Be Hard to Digest (At First)
The only major complaint I can say is that none of this translates well in the game’s Story mode. Strive’s Story mode is unlike other Story modes in fighting games as it is an entire feature film separated into chapters with no fighting involved. It’s the type where you sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch things as they unfold.
For someone who hasn’t been following the Guilty Gear story, it's best to nod your head and pretend what’s going on instead. The animations felt a bit stiff on the PS4 side of things and I was under the assumption that this was the case for PS4 exclusively. Upon playing through the story mode on the PS5, the animations are indeed a part of the Story mode itself as an intentional design choice.
Perhaps Arc System Works was going for a cinematic approach, as letter bars cover the top and bottom of the screen. Characters move like they would if one was watching a feature film, but the way the characters spoke to each other, their facial and mouth movements, and even the way they walked, all gave me RWBY vibes. Much like the latter, it has its own charm, but it’s more of dissonance from the rest of the game as it’s something players won’t immediately notice during character intros and endings.
Menus Are Quicker To Navigate On The PS5 Version.
A major positive compared to its PS4 counterpart is how quickly everything loads in-game. The infamously annoying “Network Connection” screen took a fraction of the time to connect than on the PS4 version and loading matches were also virtually instantaneous. That’s not to say there were minute-long loading times on the PS4 version, but compared to the PS5 version it might as well be.
For the amount of detail going on within the game’s various backgrounds, the way that the game runs at a consistent 60 FPS even during the game’s most demanding stages is impressive on Arc Sys’s part. Combos are easy to do (as easy as they are to do on a Dual Sense anyway) and I didn’t find myself dropping any basic combos with Giovanna. That said, the consistency across all three versions shows how balanced Strive is as a title, even though ultimately the PC version is still the superior version due to the elimination of input lag.
Guilty Gear Strive is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.