previews\ May 12, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Guilty Gear Judgement - PSP - Preview

E3 2006 Hands On Preview

PSP is becoming the king of handheld fighting games. Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Dark Stalkers, and virtually every other major franchise has or will be making its way to the console before the end of the year. 

I had the opportunity to stop by Majesco’s booth yesterday and check out what will surely be one of the hottest fighters to hit the platform: Guilty Gear Judgment. It’s not always fair to judge a game so quickly, but this one has an advantage: in addition to being a port of the two-player classic Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, the PSP edition also contains the all-new Judgment mode. 

Judgment mode is a deep and lengthy single-player mode that turns the Guilty Gear experience into a Final Fight-killer. Whereas most beat-‘em-ups provide only a handful of moves (tiresome punching and kicking, repetitive animations, etc.), in Judgment mode you have all your characters’ moves and animations. If they can do it in two-player they can perform it here. The result is a fun, action-packed adventure with hundreds of enemies and dozens of different moves to link for combos. 

Combos raise your Overdrive meter, but only for those who are consistent attackers. Slow down, miss a combo link, or stop attacking for a brief time and the meter will start to lose some of its energy. The idea, Majesco says, is that you are supposed to be on the attack at all times. Once full, the Overdrive meter lets you release a temporary power of invincibility. Enemies won’t know what hit ‘em as you run up, whip out an overwhelming blow, and avoid taking damage as the Overdrive power protects you. 

The animation, both in the two-player Guilty Gear X2 #Reload gameplay and in the single-player Judgment levels, is silky-smooth and is nothing short of an awesome achievement on the PSP. The crispness of the visuals, the richness and vibrancy of the colors – this could turn out to be the system’s best-looking 2D title yet. I was impressed standing four feet away. After getting the chance to hold the system in my hands and play the game for a bit, I could see just how much work went into perfecting the graphics. When coupled with the addictive gameplay that the Guilty Gear series has to offer, the two are a perfect match. 

Twenty-three characters are featured in Guilty Gear X2 #Reload mode (including Justice and Cliff); 20 characters will featured in the Judgment mode (Sol Badguy, Potemkin, May, Dizzy, Faust, etc.). Five of Judgment’s featured characters have their own storyline that unfolds while playing. Intertwining story elements between the single-player campaigns are said to reveal new insights into each character’s history and personality. 

Co-op mode will let you and a friend connect wirelessly for the best two-player brawler action around, while the survival mode is an endless array of battles that won’t stop coming until you die. 

Other modes include the fighting staples: Arcade, Vs. 2-Player, Vs. CPU, and Training. There’s also a mode called M.O.M. (Medal of Millionaire), but we’ll have to wait a little but longer for details on that. 

Though I’ve never thought of the Guilty Gear series as being too complex, the developers have revamped the control scheme to enable the same combos to be performed with fewer moves. The result is a greater number of moves being tossed around the screen. Without much experience, I jumped into the game and started performing combos as if I were a pro. 

Coming exclusively to the PSP this fall, Guilty Gear Judgment is gearing up to be the ultimate 2D fighting + beat-‘em-up action game. It’s a combo that’s too good to resist in concept alone. Once you’ve seen how well it all comes together, you’ll be hooked.


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