Guilty Gear 2 Overture Title Image
Title Guilty Gear 2 -Overture-
Developer Arc System Works
Publisher Arc System Works
Release Date March 31, 2016
Genre Hybrid Action/RTS
Platform PC Steam
Age Rating All Ages
Official Website

This game served as a surprising change from the developer Arc System Works back in 2007, a change that was confusing for many of its longtime fans. In 2004 the developers released Guilty Gear Isuka, and while that game had changed many of the fundamental concepts of the Guilty Gear series, it was still a fighting game. Meanwhile many iterations of the Guilty Gear XX fighting games were being released, seeming to sell fewer copies with each version. So they produced this totally new take on the world of Guilty Gear, finally calling it Guilty Gear 2, and they turned their fighting game prowess to the BlazBlue series. This was to be the last new Guilty Gear game for a very long time. Many of us fans thought that it would be the last one ever, but Guilty Gear Xrd was released last year and its update (Revelator) releases this year. Now this strange game has reemerged on Steam. And the first, and most important, thing you should know about it is this: it’s not a fighting game.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture | Backyard
Their Backyard is far more interesting than the one behind my house.

So what is this game? Well, mostly it is a hybrid action game and real time strategy (RTS) game. Where it is an action game, it is most similar to a less flashy Dynasty Warriors or Devil May Cry. But that part of the game is not the focus. The focus is strongly on the RTS aspects of the game, and it most strongly resembles Defense of the Ancients (DoTA). This is both to its benefit and its detriment, as the DoTA sub-genre (MOBA) has both it’s ardent fans and it’s vocal detractors. One interesting aspect of that, however, is that this game can serve as a primer for those who are interested in MOBA games (like League of Legends or DoTA 2) but are looking for an easy entry into that space. Two things about this game make it a decent entry point. One is that a standard match is 2 vs 2 instead of 5 vs 5, so that makes it both more basic and finding a group of people to play with an simpler task. The second aspect that makes it easier to get into is that it has a fairly robust story mode that teaches you how to play against an AI opponent. Neither DoTA 2 nor League of Legends do much in single player or with teaching newcomers – a very common complaint laid against them.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture | Campaign Mode
Ky, you are a great King, but as a father you could probably use some work.

My personal interest in the game was mostly in seeing this part of the Guilty Gear story that I had not been exposed to previously. By 2007 I had given up on XBox 360 after two of my consoles died (the infamous Red Ring of Death fiasco). So, as much as I’m a fan of Guilty Gear (I’ve played them since the very first game on the original Playstation and still own that copy), I wasn’t prepared to buy a 3rd console to play it. Honestly, from the outside I thought it was more of an action game than an RTS at the time, but I was correct about how much additional story you get. In fact, because of the structure of the Guilty Gear games, this title has more GG Lore than any other game. The large and complex story mode (especially on the PS Vita versions) of the BlazBlue series have never been a part of this other series. So, as interesting as this world is, you never really get to know that much about it other than character dialogue and ending snippets. In this respect, I got even more than I expected from the game. The story mode is fairly long, and you will get a ton of lore thrown at you. And for those playing the new series (Xrd), it can fill you in on a lot of the backstory, especially between Sol, Ky, and Sin.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture | Valentine
My favorite new character in the game is Valentine, very much of the gothic lolita persuasion.

What I also got more of than I bargained for was DoTA. I’m not a critic of that genre, I’ve played a few rounds of DoTA 2 and I love watching The International every year, but that can be a hindrance to enjoyment of this game as much as an enhancement. This game is not as good of a strategy game as LoL or DoTA 2, and it’s not as good of an action game as Devil May Cry or Dynasty Warriors. For a series so steeped in very tight fighting game mechanics, I would have expected the action sequences to be my favorite part of the game. But for me, that was actually the weakest part. The RTS parts using the Organ and commanding your troops was bare bones, but it still worked as intended and you could get into the flow and understand the different troop strengths fairly easily. The fighting that you have to do as your hero on those maps, and in the campaign mode special maps that contain only action game components, feels very loose and your moves have fairly small ranges. You will not see those huge combos or large number of enemies flying away that you would in those other action games that I mentioned. So it’s easy to feel frustrated if that was the part of the game that you were interested in. But, if you want a simplified DoTA game, and you have a group of friends to play matches against, this can be just what you are looking for. It certainly has a hardcore fan base that was pleased to be able to play this on PC (especially with increased voice chat options that PC allows) and brings a new crop of people to populate those multiplayer servers. The story will last you about 10 hours, depending on your level of success with the three difficulty levels, but you could spend unlimited amount of time with the multiplayer game.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture | Showing Age
The art style is still there, but those graphics are starting to look very dated.

The translation to PC has not been entirely smooth, though. First thing, you should make sure (if possible) that you play this game with an XBox 360 controller. There are workarounds to use other controllers, but there have been some problems getting other controllers to work, and button prompts will remain with the 360 style. Keyboard support is extremely rudimentary for now until they patch it. You have to actually edit the keybindings in a WordPad type program outside of the game to change them. For some of us old PC gamers, this is not that surprising, but some newer gamers may not be used to doing something like that. Likewise you also have to use keyboard commands to go full screen and to exit out of the game once you begin. I’m betting that many users would not know that you need to press F11 to get into full screen and to return from it. And the game doesn’t tell you how to do those things, you have to search online for that information. Thankfully with Steam and Google it shouldn’t be too difficult, but those are things that should have been included to start with. There are also a few bugs in the game, like debuffs not removing over time (the Raven story fight is difficult and very long because of this bug) and some balance issues in the multiplayer that the development team plans on addressing. One issue that they will not really be able to address, however, is how muddy and old the graphics look. This is a 9 year old game, after all, so keep your expectations in check.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture | Story Screen
These loading screens, while long, actually give you more GG story than you can get anywhere else.

There is a 40% off sale right now on the Steam version. So you have to ask yourself whether you want to get this game for much cheaper than its $19.99 MSRP copy and cope with the bugs for now or wait and see if they are patched. That’s a position that I wish the developers didn’t put their fans in. Ideally I wish they would extend the launch sale to be until the first few patches are out. But, I am glad to know so much more story in a universe that I’m very fond of. The art style is still interesting, if you look past the muddy 3d models, and the music is still as good as you would expect from a series that is known for it’s hard rock and metal tunes. Check out some multiplayer matches on Youtube to see if this is an RTS that you might want to play long term. Or if you really want to get into the DoTA sub-genre, this may be a good choice for you. But for me, only the story made this worth playing. Honestly, even though this game came first, Brutal Legend did action/rts hybrid better. This one just has a much better multiplayer game and now you have better access to join in those matches.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided By Publisher

William Haderlie
Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.