Review: Project X Zone's crossovers and fan service reach epic proportions
Crossovers are a staple of the gaming industry. Whether it's the crazy, over-the-top styles of Marvel vs. Capcom, or the more family friendly Super Smash Bros., it's always exciting to see characters from various established franchises on the same screen, whatever the reason may be. Project X Zone follows suit, except that the crossover here is of epic proportions. It doesn't really make any sort of sense, and yet makes for an entirely compelling premise.
Project X Zone takes franchises from SEGA (Virtua Fighter, Resonance of Fate, Space Channel 5), Namco (Tekken, Tales of Vesperia, .hack), and Capcom (Mega Man, Street Fighter, Resident Evil) and merges them into one giant crossover tactics game. And the games I mentioned are just a few examples. If you have favorite characters from any of these publishers, expect to find them here.
The story is nonsensical. That's really all there is to it. I actually can't even attempt to talk about it, because I don't comprehend anything that's happening. All I can tell you is that two original characters, Mii Kouryuuji and Kogoro Tenzai are part of a clan of protectors who guard an artifact that can tear all of space and time. This artifact gets stolen (of course), and thus begins a tale of multiple universes converging. On one hand, it would be hard to explain the massive amount of crossover that's happening here otherwise, but the story is just too incoherent to understand.
PXZ isn't your typical Tactics RPG (or TRPG). Whereas Fire Emblem Awakening gave players massive amounts of choice and consequence, customization, marriage and offspring opportunities, and other bells and whistles, PXZ is quite the opposite. It drives itself through narrative and combat. There is no map exploration, no side quests to take part of, no loyalty missions to win units over. PXZ is as linear as you could possibly get. It's certainly a shame, especially when coming into this right out of the fantastic Awakening.
However, if PXZ has one thing over its tactical rival, it's the unique action-based combat. Units are still moved around on a board in limited spaces. Adjacent enemies can then be attacked, which takes the player into a close-up battle of the two paired-up units in an all out combo-filled, ass-kick fest. It's a spectacle to see.
Though it resembles a fighting game, the combat is far from it. Simply pressing the A button will unleash a barrage of flashy moves that will send your opponent flying back into the wall, or cause them to be juggled into the air. It then requires you to input other moves, tied to the A + direction button, to keep that combo going and deal the most amount of damage per turn. While it may look like you're just meant to unleash move after move, careful timing will yield more destructive results. It might take some time to realize the game isn't a straight-up button masher, but once the combat clicks, you'll find that it's far more satisfying than it initially seems.
Adjacent allied units can help out during a battle as well by pressing the R Button. Like the regular moves, timing when to unleash a partner attack will make all the difference in damage. When partners are unleashed, and they hit the enemy at the same time as your current units, the enemy becomes suspended where they were hit last, which makes connecting hits and scoring criticals that much easier.
Then there are Solo Units. These can be attached to any other duo of characters and are summoned with the L Button. Like adjacent partner units, they do a significant amount of damage based on the time they're called out.
Massive attacks can be unleashed thanks to your Cross Gauge, which fills up gradually as you fight and defeat enemies on the battlefield. When at 100%, these spectacles will do a ton of damage, which makes them best suited for bosses, or saved until you're in a bind. PXZ also doesn't use up a turn to use items before battle, meaning as long as you have them, you can freely heal all your units, boost their stats and raise your Cross Gauge.
The detail that went into each character sprite is impressive. When in battle, all of the characters represent their counterparts perfectly. What's even more impressive about this is that many of these characters come from a strictly 3D environment. When controlling a unit, a theme song or tune from their respective game plays in the background, which further shows the care and attention the devs put in to make it that much more authentic to its source material.
The fan service goes beyond the number of franchises included in the game. Expect to see your favorite heroines in provocative poses, and cleavage shots abound. Whenever a new ally or enemy appears that's dressed in nothing but strings covering her lady bits, expect Frank West to pop out his camera and snap an "erotica" themed picture straight out of Dead Rising. Oh yeah they did.
Project X Zone won't exactly satisfy your TRPG craving if what you wanted was more Fire Emblem-like gameplay. Regardless, the amount of content is quite staggering, which means you can expect to pour a ton of hours into the game, and the unique combat system provides some fresh takes on the genre. Project X Zone can best be described as a gamer's wet dream, and I mean that in the sincerest way possible.