If you've been a long-time fan of the Power Rangers, or if like us you enjoyed them back in the day and have returned recently when your kids took an interest, then you'll know that there is a huge number of different series out there, each of them with a unique setting and completely overhauled stories with new villains to overcome. Simply put, there's a wealth of material to draw from and if you were looking for an IP that had the potential to offer up a roster crammed full of different characters with contrasting fighting styles, there's very few that can compare to Saban's long-running show.
And you can imagine that the vast roster of potential playable characters is one of the reasons that nWay decided to make Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, which draws heroes and villains from different iterations of the show and throws them together in the ring for a 3 vs 3 fighter that, from a mechanical point of view at least, is actually pretty satisfying to play.
It looks good too. The characters that are included at launch include both rangers and some of their costumed adversaries. The animations are pretty smooth, the effects enhance the action, and the studio has made a solid attempt to keep each fighter feeling unique from the next. The only problem is that there's just not enough of them and it didn't take long before we were left wanting for more; this should have boasted a roster crammed full of fighters drawn from almost 30 years of the TV show, but it isn't.
You see, when we say "not enough characters" we really mean it, as there are only nine there at launch in the base game. When you consider the embarrassment of riches linked to this particular franchise, that's simply not enough. At the very minimum, we expected one hero or villain from each different iteration of the show, but we're nowhere near that here and the scant collection starts getting stale after just a couple of hours of play. While it's good that those included feel distinct, the 3 vs 3 setup means it's not uncommon to see the majority of the roster in a single match, and that means that it's not long before fatigue starts to set in.
At least it's not a total disaster and there is some fun to be had. Characters kick and block and fling out the occasional long-range attack, mixing up light, medium, and heavy attacks as you try to string moves together for combos. You can call in support from the sidelines and your fighters will tag-team against an opponent when required, leading to some spectacular moments that can change the tide of battle. The tag system allows you to bring your companions to bear at choice moments, and a timely second tap of the required button swaps them over completely if you need to make a tactical switch.
As you're fighting you charge up a meter that lets you unleash devastating special attacks on your foes. Often a match can hinge on when you decide to call in your megazord (each player chooses one before the match starts) as once you've charged the meter a signature attack fills up the screen and causes big damage if it connects. While the system is a little simplistic, it's a fun addition that plays to the lore, although just like everything else in Battle for the Grid, there's simply not enough of these megazord attacks with only three to choose from.
The cynic in us assumed that the developer was hiding the bigger part of the game behind a paywall in the form of the season pass that's already available to purchase, but that's not the case and the expansion is just as light in terms of the content it offers to the game. For your £12 you get the promise of three additional characters to bulk up the roster, meaning that eventually, you'll have a lineup that includes a dozen characters that have been drawn from a pool of hundreds.
And so, despite some decent production values and a number of game modes including local versus, both ranked and casual online play (if you can find a match), and a single-player campaign that offers a fairly forgettable story, we were left with the impression that Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid offers far too little when it could and should have been a celebration of this surprisingly enduring franchise and all of its particular quirks.
With so many characters, enemies, scenarios, and fighting styles to explore, the potential for future fan service is huge, and surely the plan is to keep supporting the game with additional content moving forward, however, we expected a lot more game at launch (both the base and the first season pass). Considering what the competition is able to offer in terms of depth and detail, this Power Rangers-themed fighter is so lean that it simply doesn't have the chops to mix it with the heavyweights, and that's despite looking the part and having some decent moves.