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Review: Project X Zone 2

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Hey, I think I know that guy!

As an idea Project X Zone 2 is wonderful. It takes players through different worlds celebrating the creativity and unique aspects of each game. Having our favourite characters mingling together as they form a vanguard against an ultimate evil is a concept taken straight out of a child's dream and put into this game. With big Japanese games franchises all throwing their hat into this title, equal exposure for each one can cause complications for a narratively driven game.

Project X Zone 2 may have a hard time keeping its story coherent but always has a surprise around each door keeping new and old school video game fans fixed onto the dual screens of the 3DS.

Project X Zone 2 (3DS [Revieweed])
Developer: Monolith Soft
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Released: November 12, 2015 (JP), December 10, 2015 (KOR), February 16, 2016 (NA), February 12, 2016 (EU, AUS)
MSRP: $39.99

Project X Zone 2 is a strategy role-playing game featuring characters from SEGA, Namco Bandai, and Capcom. It will be one of the most bizarre crossovers for players that are not familiar with a lot of Japanese franchises as the game goes deep into each company's library bringing out characters from Sakura Wars, God Eater, and yes, even the Sega Saturn Mascot Segata Sanshiro. The large variety of characters can be intimidating but the game doesn't go too in-depth narratively into any one franchise going for generalised statements around the lore of each one. The game contains an encyclopaedia or "Crosspedia" for players wanting to learn more about each character, terminology, and aspects of the game. It's an all-inclusive document that works well for explaining the background behind each character but not so much for teaching players the advanced aspects of gameplay. 

This title is a sequel to Project X Zone and continues the story of two warring factions Shinra and Ouma. They're original teams containing original characters for this cross-over series that recruit heroes and villains from games to fight for their cause. As the story progresses you will collect a bevy of different heroes, anti-heroes, and even antagonists to fight for Shinra as they try to stop Ouma and their plans. The story is pretty thin and serves as a means of delivering all the characters to different franchise locals like Kamurocho, Mallet Island, and Sword Valley. It is thrilling to see where the game will take you next and which character will be recruited into the party. As a newcomer to the Project X Zone games, I did not feel I was missing much from not playing the prequel. A lot of the story is self-contained bar some lines of dialogue making light reference to previous iteration or characters mentioning that they have met before. Plot progression can be meandering at times especially during the middle-end of the game as once you've seen all the characters the circumstances you end up in makes you feel you're taking one step forward followed by two steps back. 

On the gameplay side, Project X Zone 2 is fairly shallow on both the strategy and role-playing sides of the SRPG. The game is too easy for strategy and positioning to have any impact on battles and choosing upgrades feels less of a customizable choice but rather a necessity so you aren't underpowered for the next stage. I never felt my choice in upgrades affected my gameplay or strategy when going into battle. In the later game when your party size balloons, micromanaging equipment, and upgrading attacks become tedious and would have benefitted from an auto-assign function. The positioning of units only mattered when it came to the combat portions as they adjacent units can be called for assists or support. Therefore, bunching units together as much as possible was the strategy I utilised throughout the game with little consequence. Almost all the stages require the player to eliminate all targets so more variety would have been welcomed to incorporate more strategy in the game. 

The actual combat is an area where the game really shines. Having to choose attacks carefully and choosing the right time to attack confirming critical hits helps keep the fights engaging each time you do them. I really enjoyed the displays of signature moves that can be combined with support attacks and assists to become a large ball of chaotic numbers flying around with a cinematic finish. The developer had fun to include as many nods and authentic moves from each series' to help sell the game as a large collaboration of different franchises. 

I think my favourite thing about Project X Zone 2 is the way it treats each franchise. The title gives each one respect and an opportunity in the limelight. Having the music change to the respectful game track of the character being controlled tickles my nostalgia nerve and is a very nice touch. It works especially well when the music cue kicks in before the character is introduced giving hints of the next party member. As a game light on story, it is also light-hearted with the scenarios it puts the party in. One moment you are walking down the catwalk Space Channel 5 style then frolicking amongst sakura petals recreating a Sega Saturn commercial. If you find this baffling, the game does too with characters acting appropriately to the situation. It's goofy, funny, and really endearing to the each franchise. It's the characters portrayals that I really like within this title and the ways they interact with each other. Sleaze ball characters like Majima and Vashyron will get rebuffed by females, Chun Li's maternal relationship with her partner Xiaoyu, and Ryu's obsession with training. Sadly the same cannot be said for all original characters as Reiji is a boring straight man present to move the plot forward.

The art for Project X Zone 2 does a good job in normalising all the characters from the different series into one style. Some realistic characters like Natsu, KOS-MOS, and Segeta Sanshiro look great in their stylised cartoony form while Kazuma Kiryu didn't fair so well in transition. The sprite work and animation are phenomenal keeping everything smooth during fights and looking amazing as each move is executed. Due to the gameplay, everything meshes together into a flurry of attacks and numbers but heading into training mode and trying each move individually you can see the sum of their parts and it is excellent. 

Overall I enjoyed my time with Project X Zone 2. The action portion of the combat felt like a good mix of action and strategy, I had a lot of fun with the character interactions, dialogue, and premise of the game. The game works best in short bursts as each stage is 30-40 minutes long bracketed by dialogue scenes that allow players to quickly catch up with the skirmish before engaging in battle once more. The title does have issues with narrative pacing, strategic and gameplay difficulty so while not posing a challenge for strategy fans, it will allow more action centric players to complete the game without frustration. It's a great game to have in your collection if you want to experience a fun wacky side quest with many special guests along for the ride.

[This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]

Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale
Published by: Vertical Inc.
Written by: NisiOisiN
Illustrated by: VOfan
Translated by: Ko Ransom
Released: December 15, 2015
MSRP: $14.95

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Project X Zone 2 reviewed by Anthony Redgrave

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide

 
 
 

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Anthony Redgrave
Anthony RedgraveContributor   gamer profile

Born in the 90's, Anthony was raised on Anime and cultivated a strong passion for Japanese culture and paraphernalia. He has dabbled all manner of web shenanigans; from webcomics to game developm... more + disclosures


 


 


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