The problem with 2D fighters is that at the end of the day they’re mostly all the same. So many smaller developers using the same washed out formula to try and be the next e-sports phenomenon. The problem is that’s a one in a million chance when you have to go up against big budget masterpieces like Injustice and well established staple franchises like Street Fighter. Occasionally something smaller like BlazBlue or Skull Girls gets picked up but people often forget that even those developers aren’t that small or new. What this has led to is a constant stream of pretty run of the mill fighting games, all of which are good enough to exist, but none of which are noteworthy in any way. They all just hope that their music, characters, and story stand out enough to gain a cult following. The recently released (3/15/2017) Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe by Arc System Works is another such commonplace fighting game. In case you weren’t aware, Arc System Works is the company that developed BlazBlue.
It’s not 100% fair to lump Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe in with every other average fighter today because it’s actually a remaster of the original Chaos Code released in 2011 for the arcade. The game was later ported to PS3 as well. Why they felt the need to remaster a pretty average fighter for the PS4 is anyone’s guess, but it was certainly an unnecessary and superfluous decision.
This is a pretty standard looking 2D fighter. It seems like so many non-AAA fighters still look like something from around the Street Fighter 3 (1997) era. It’s flat graphics, sort of dynamic backgrounds, and an unacceptable amount of pixilation on the edges for 2017. Each of the 16 characters has their own look and personality, but they’re all pretty much cliché stock characters you’ve seen in the genre a hundred times before. I like the big bulky male chef character and the anime style girl in mech armor. See my point? There’s some magic techniques and special attacks that look like they were pulled right out of Marvel vs. Capcom. Each character has their own stage in a setting supposedly relevant to their personality or personal history. Most of them have people in the background watching the fight and moving just slightly to make the game seem more alive. All of this description probably sounds generic because that’s exactly what this game is. The colors are vibrant and well done. I was also impressed by the fact that you can custom color each of the 16 characters down to some very minute details. This was probably the only part of the game that really stood out to me as being somewhat off the beaten path.
The characters are drawn pretty well. They have a lot of finer details including muscle bulges, clothing wrinkles, and even some split ends in their hair. But I wouldn’t say the characters look as good as higher caliber fighters from the last five years. Again they’re still fully 2D. One thing you can’t miss is that the female characters have a pretty noticeable jiggle to their breasts even when just standing still. Gotta love Japanese developers.
The HUD is your standard life bar with avatar and name at the top of the screen with the timer in the middle. It also has a stun gauge directly underneath the life bar but almost half of the length. At the bottom of the screen you have your special gauge with special technique commands shown underneath it. You can move the positions of either bar vertically in the options menu but only within a limited range. I actually was able to hide the life bars completely on my TV. You can choose to play in original or wide mode. Wide shows the fight in full screen while original has bars on the sides. The bars show the move sets for the characters in the fight but they cut off slightly so they aren’t all that useful for learning the command lists for characters. The character selection screen is inspired by Marvel vs Capcom 3 but does have some significant changes. It still has the inside of a computer look, but you can see the whole character when making a selection. Two big issues I had with this screen were that it cuts off slightly on my TV to the right and the colors are really washed out. This color issue was specific to this screen and wasn’t an issue for me anywhere else in the game.
There are no cutscenes in this game but in the story mode there are stills with text based dialog sequences. These stills are hand drawn and look almost at the caliber of an anime. Like a colored manga but more finished. Overall Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe doesn’t look bad, but it’s certainly not up to 2017 standards even for 2D fighters. I guess that’s OK since it’s a remaster.
The menus look good. Various hues of blue mixed together for a computer motherboard inspired background and a very readable block text, usually appearing in white. As with so many remasters, these menus are new and are probably the only part of the game that was actually remastered with this release. This has become pretty standard with PS4 ports of old fighters. Another recent example I reviewed is Garou: Mark of the Wolves. The game runs very smoothly overall, but how could a remaster of an old 2D fighter not? Too bad they couldn’t deal with the edge pixilation though.
This is a pretty standard arcade fighter as far as gameplay is concerned. I’d say it’s at about Marvel vs. Capcom level. Not as hard as Street Fighter, but you still can’t easily execute special moves or intuitively inflict smooth combos. You actually have to take the time to master the move sets to feel like you’re more than just button mashing. I was never actually able to consistently initiate and/or land special moves. This is the type of fighter where you have to use up to jump and you have dedicated dodge roll and grab buttons. It actually has a pretty full button map. Each of the four main buttons do a different type of attack. The buttons are fully mappable, which is nice as well. Each of the 16 characters has their own fighting style. Some are heavier, faster, have better reach, and so on. When choosing your character you can pick two out of four special moves as well as your bounce type. I actually did like this level of customization, but didn’t really notice a difference in my overall performance. There are nine different computer difficulties to choose from with the default being four. The game does get noticeably harder as you progress forward in the Arcade mode even on the default difficulty.
Some characters have special elements to them that adds an additional gauge to the bottom of the screen. Cerberus is a good example of this. He has a gun with three shots. You can see a bullet meter at the bottom of the screen when playing as him so you know how many shots you have. Reloading is done automatically over time.
The stun gauge builds as you take damage and empties as you don’t take damage. If it fills the character is stunned until the bar empties or they take a hit. I liked this mechanic, but it didn’t affect the game too much because the bar doesn’t usually fill more than once for either character in a given fight, which is fair. Standard rules are best of three rounds, but you can actually tie if the timer runs out and both characters have the same amount of life. In the event of a tie in the third round the game will go to round four. In the event of a tie in the fourth round, the game will declare it a double loss. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in any other game.
There are six different modes of play plus a practice mode. Arcade mode is the basic story mode. It lets you choose a character and run through eight fights. You can choose the difficulty, time, and win count parameters in this mode. If you die you can continue or choose to change characters. If you change characters you have to start back at stage one. The order of fights and opponents changes every time. Versus mode is just straight fights for local PVP or you can fight the computer. Network mode is just versus mode online. Survival mode is unlimited fights until you die. Your health regenerates to full at the end of every fight. Score Attack mode is just survival mode but you’re playing for a performance based score which you can upload to an online leaderboard. Mission mode is a series of 51 separate fights with set parameters/conditions and the character is specific to each mission. Practice mode is your standard make up your own rules to master the game area. Lots of modes, but none of them particularly original.
The online PVP mode is probably the only part of this game that is actually altogether new compared to the original release. There are ranked and casual matches. When playing online you can earn credits called CP. These can be used to purchase unlockables for your collection. This is mostly art and aesthetic choices for characters such as more colors for customization. There are two different leaderboards. One is for who has gained the most CP and the other is for highest scores. You can view leaderboards in general or for specific characters. For example you can see which player online has the highest CP ranking for the character Celia II. What I actually liked a lot about the online mode was the character profile system.
You can see players’ profiles. Specifically their CP, number of battles played, and number of matches won. You can also set a character avatar and a network title. The network titles are relevant and informative. For instance, I use “Can’t Combo”. There are more specific ones telling which character you use and such. I really like this system, but I can see how it might giveaway too much depending on what you use. It can also be used to mislead players as a form of strategy.
The online mode lets you create or join a room where multiple players can enter. You can set the number up to eight or choose no limit. You can also choose country, player levels, round settings, and whether or not people can play as boss characters. Actually a decent amount of control for online matches. Sadly though no one is playing it. I went into both ranked and casual match modes looking for any available match. I found one room which wouldn’t let me connect. The system in place seems to work really well but who cares if there are no other players.
Though I’ve already said it before, in general Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe is a pretty average fighter overall. The gameplay isn’t particularly original and there isn’t much going on here that you haven’t seen before. It runs pretty smoothly and does its job. No reason to go for this game over any other one, but also no reason to really fault the gameplay in comparison to any other one.
The sound is the only part of this game that I actually will fully complement. It’s really good. The sound track is pretty full and the tracks are done quite well. The music is active and variable. Each level and the menus have their own songs. It’s a generally upbeat listening experience and I definitely enjoyed this aspect of the game more than any other part of it. The sound effects are good too. No lag time and every move, even when you miss, gets an appropriate sound. There are effects for navigating the menus as well. You can change the background music and effects volumes separately from 1-100 in the options menu.
The voice acting is all in Japanese so I couldn’t understand it, but the different characters had their own appropriate sounding voices and various emotions depending on the tone of the character. I thought it was odd that all the character voice acting was done in Japanese, but the round start announcer spoke in English. The sound is the best part of this game in my opinion.
The writing is meh as per usual with these mid to low caliber fighters. There’s a very detailed prologue about where the title comes from and how this is all some big tournament for an undefined power, but this doesn’t really translate into the actual game that well. Each character has their own story in the Arcade mode, but really that’s just an intro telling you why they’re fighting and a few ending cards with some dialog. Otherwise they say one of a few winning phrases, in text form, after every fight depending on the opponent. Likewise, the opponent says different things when you lose depending on your character. At the start of each fight characters will have some banter that differs depending on who is involved, but it’s all in Japanese so I couldn’t understand any of it. Some of the characters showed more emotion than others depending on who they were talking to though.
This is one of those games where the story mode (Arcade mode) isn’t really a story for each character, but rather has a story near the end. You fight through six fights with little more than banter and the character’s introduction. But when you get to the seventh fight there’s a short dialog between your character and a boss character about the power that everyone is looking for because the boss is the guardian. It’s similar to Dead or Alive 4 with Alpha 152, but in this game the boss actually talks. Her name is Celia II and she’s a robot, because Japanese developers love their clichés. But there’s a twist in this game. It’s not actually the final boss. After you defeat Celia II an evil villain shows up and tries to steal the power away so he can rule the world. Then you fight him too. Once you win, your character has their own special ending that’s relevant to their story, but the boss sequences are basically all the same with just slightly different dialog. What I liked about these ending sequences is that they weren’t always positive. Some of the characters had ironic endings where though they obtained the power they still weren’t successful in completing their own personal wishes.
The tutorial section, called “How to Play”, is actually pretty detailed, but other than that writing is pretty sparse in this game overall. I noticed a ton of grammar and spelling errors throughout this game. Especially in the menus. Whoever edited the translations for this game did not earn their paycheck. Again, this game doesn’t do anything particularly worse than any other 2D fighter other than spelling; it just does everything exactly the same and shouldn’t be commended for it.
There is a decent amount of replay value for a standard level 2D fighter. I’ve already mentioned the six gameplay modes. The 51 missions will take you a while all on their own. You can also play the story mode on nine different difficulties with 16 different characters. The network mode lets you play online against other people and has multiple leaderboards, but again no one is playing. There are more than 40 unlockables that you need to earn CP to buy. But you can only get CP from online battles so that might be a problem. On top of all that there are 34 trophies including a platinum. 10 of these are hidden, but in general most of the trophies are for clearing specific modes and missions. I think the $20 price tag is fair, assuming the online PVP was an active community, but I definitely won’t be putting 20 hours into this game either way.
Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe is a game that can and will be forgotten. It won’t be an e-sports phenomenon and it won’t be remembered as the inspiration for future fighters. No one will say things like “I clearly see Chaos Code in this game”. It’s an average game with a good soundtrack and there’s no need for you to buy it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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