I’m going to go straight to the point for this introduction; Fighting Games are one of the toughest games to review. Especially when it comes to its intricacies and design choices. BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is definitely not an exception to the rule.
The game definitely brought a lot of expectations to the table. In fact, the heaviest promotion material was the fact that you get characters from BlazBlue: Centralfiction, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night: In-Birth and RWBY. The latter of which makes its (rather late, if you ask me) debut in fighting games. Later on, more characters from franchises like Senran Kagura, Arcana Heart, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf started making their appearance.
Now, we’re looking at the second iteration of this game. Arc System Works looked at the criticisms reviewers and competitive players had and improved the formula. How did they do this? By revamping the game’s mechanics and adding more to the game.
Could this game be great for new players? Is this game appealing enough for the FGC while also being accessible enough for the players who are just mildly experienced in fighting games? Is this game’s story mode finally worth playing? Let’s find out through this BBTAG 2.0 Review.
The Mysterious Phantom Field Manifests
Let’s start by talking about the game’s story mode: The first chapter focuses on a “Tournament” where the characters from different worlds get to clash their swords, guns, scythes and other sorts of weaponry for Keystones that would allow them to return to their worlds.
Without spoiling much the first chapter goes through several arcs that reveal the true ending. With P4A, UNIST, BB, and RWBY getting their own playable sections. Oddly enough, the Blazblue campaign allows you to make multiple decisions that alter the plot for that section. This isn’t seen in any capacity in the other story sections.
I am quite surprised at this development, especially because it essentially makes every other story arc irrelevant. In fact, what makes this decision all the more confusing is the fact that the only character who effectively collects all 4 of the Keystones is Ruby in her story arc.
This is just one of the many problems that come with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle’s first chapter. I ended up dreading the P4A campaign because that chapter has the tendency of overexplaining everything. Not helping things is the fact that every character in the P4A cast is kind of dumb during their chapter.
The worst part of it is that this Chapter has the habit of teasing the players with DLC characters. During the game’s release, one of the most contentious points of discussion was the amount of DLC for the game. Many players hated to see that half of the roster would have to be purchased. Not helping things is that said characters would make appearances throughout the story. You know, to tease people so they purchase it.
Once we move on to Chapter 2, things become better. In fact, I would say that this is actually the high point in the game’s story mode. Compared to Chapter 1, the game takes a rather unexpected turn and brings a more hilarious story.
See, at this point, it’s been a year since the game’s release. So Arc System Works had time to properly develop a story mode that properly involved the entire roster of the game. Not to mention, it also doesn’t tease you with DLC (since it’s packaged on the game itself at this point). As such, the number of funny references and jokes increases by a lot.
Indeed, during Chapter 2, the game’s story takes a better turn, bringing with itself some incredible visual gags and funny scenarios. Of course, you still have to battle it out against other characters every now and then but the game can mix things up here and there to keep you entertained. I certainly enjoyed certain scenarios that unfortunately I can’t spoil.
Rest assured, the characters from Senran Kagura, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, and the DLC that was dangled in our faces for the longest time all make an appearance here. Not only that, but we also get to play as them instead of fighting against them in very lackluster battles! That’s actually one of the most attractive aspects of Chapter 2. It does feel like it has fun with itself rather than padding things out.
The story isn’t really that remarkable. It does its job for a fighting game but not much else. I hope you enjoy character portraits because this game has the habit of shoving static character portraits that change emotion every now and then. There are times where we do get some CG scenes. However, it’s mostly reserved for the ending of Chapter 1. However, there are plenty more scenes like this during Chapter 2.
The Story Mode offers a great way to introduce fans of the represented franchises to expand their horizons, though. It lets players get acquainted with the characters from other games and makes them invested. I’ve shown the story mode to some of my friends and colleagues and they have shown interest in games like Persona 4 Arena after watching it.
I would definitely suggest skipping over to Chapter 2 if you want a worthwhile story, though. While Chapter 1 has its own set of strengths, it’s completely overshadowed by the qualities of Chapter 2. However, the overall experience will give you around 8 to 10 hours of pure entertainment for you.
Single Player – Lacking but Sufficient
The stuff for Single Player is definitely something serviceable but at the same time, it lacks in some aspects. For instance, there’s NO Arcade Mode. The closest thing you have to that is the game’s Survival mode. But, if we gave a bad rep to Street Fighter V because of that, then this game won’t get a free pass either.
That doesn’t mean that Cross Tag is as barebones as the Launch version of SFV. Besides the Local Vs. mode and Survival Mode, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle offers Tactics mode. This mode is definitely one of the main attractions for newbies at the game and especially for people who wish to learn the new mechanics that BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle offers quickly.
Tactics Mode offers players a chance to learn the game’s mechanics without sticking to the training mode way too much. Not only that, but you also get to learn the character’s combos through Combo Challenges and Missions that allow players to learn how to attack at certain situations.
I will get to the mechanics’ aspect later but rest assured, the main reason why you would be going into BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is definitely the Tactics mode. The rest of the modes are nothing to write home about though. There’s the aforementioned standard Survival Mode with encounters done at random and the usual Replay/Gallery mode which serves their purpose.
Mechanics – Learning the Basics of Combat
The entire point of BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle revolves around making quick decisions in terms of defense and offense and to be patient and learn to properly read your opponent.
The balance between offensive and defensive play definitely allows players to focus on the match itself. Especially with Special moves being simplified to Quarter Circle Motions. This allows for a better experience that allows players to go nuts with a freeform battle system that encourages creativity in combos while letting them focus on the battle instead of making sure they are making the right motion input.
Battles take place in 2 vs. 2 matches in which characters can perform a variety of moves. Players will also have several defensive and offensive options at their disposal. These options go from Reversal Actions which let you tell your opponent to “Get off me” with a powerful attack to Cross Combos that allow you to attack in tandem with your partner.
Combat is fast-paced and players will have to learn when it is appropriate to attack and defend. The game is pretty easy to pick up and play so anyone can jump in. However, it also provides enough depth for people to be creative with tag-team combos.
The game makes a special focus in the Neutral aspect of the game. It doesn’t let players be too aggressive (unless they want to be heavily punished) or opt for passive playstyles. I think this approach is great because it gives a chance for newer players to learn the fundamentals of fighting games.
Overall, I think that the combat is rather complex for being a “Simplistic fighter”. The major focus in this game is the timing of combos and learning how to appropriately break the opponent’s defenses. If you have a solid grasp of fundamentals, you’ll be able to take on your opponents without a problem.
BBTAG 2.0 Review Conclusion – A Great Introductory Fighter
There are a lot of good things in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle. The game definitely isn’t as aggressive as games like DBFZ can be. Yes, I get it, fighting games are supposed to be flashy. However, I also think that players should be allowed to defend themselves.
The lack of defensive options can lead to boring games and wars of attrition where the winner is whoever lands (and doesn’t drop) their lethal combo first. While that’s amazing for a spectacle fighter, it isn’t for regular players who wish to focus on the neutral.
Unfortunately, I do feel like there really aren’t that many options for the single-player outside of the Story mode and Survival Mode. I will say that the game’s Netcode is definitely stable enough. One of the most unique features of the Netcode is the fact that it downright doesn’t allow players to play if they have a bad connection.
Overall, I think BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a good introductory game that offers a lot of great choices for veterans and newbies alike. The price point is pretty attractive for a AAA game. With that said, this is a crossover that I wouldn’t miss for the world. I definitely look forward to whatever Arc System Works has in store for fighting gamers to keep making games accessible and fun for everyone involved.
What do you think about BBTAG 2.0? Do you agree with our review? What are your favorite fighting game franchises? Are you going to pick up any of the DLC characters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. If you’re hungry for more fighting game content, you should listen to our podcast where we talked about Terry Bogard in Smash Bros,
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a good introductory game that offers a lot of great choices for veterans and newbies alike. The price point is pretty attractive for a AAA game.
- The combat mechanics are focused on neutral rather than aggresive play
- The game's story mode introduces fans to new series
- It has Blitztank, that should be a system seller.
- The first chapter in Story Mode can drag at some points
- Single player options are lackluster