2016 has been a good year for fighters. Titles like; Street Fighter V, King of Fighters XIV, and Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator (Arc System Works' other fighting game series) have set the fighting game community ablaze. Now Arc System Works return once again with BlazBlue: Central Fiction (sequel to BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma). Does Central Fiction continue the trend already set in 2016? It does, but like the others, it does come with a few problems.
Let's start with the positives. The practice modes are great for both newcomers to the series and long-time fans, who are looking to brush up on their skills. There are three modes altogether; Training, Tutorial and Challenge. Training plays like your usual practice mode affair, where you can choose a character and try out your moves. Tutorial teaches you the basics of BlazBlue's mechanics, through to its advanced systems. Whilst fans might not need the tutorial, it will be of great help to people who are new to the series, and it does a fantastic job. Lastly is Challenge mode, where you take on missions set for each character. These are set of moves that you have to execute and that get harder.
Central Fiction features an arcade mode (a genre staple), but it does things a little differently. It features three acts and each one consists of eight rounds and at the end of each act, you get a cut-scene for the character that you have chosen. We liked this approach because not only does it extend the longevity of the game, it also gives each character added depth.
The story mode, on the other hand, follows on from the events of the previous instalment, Chrono Phantasma. The story is rather good and comes in at around 10-12 hours (less than 10 hours if you speed through the text). Fans of the series will enjoy the narrative as it serves as a conclusion to the Ragna Saga. It may not be as easy to digest for newcomers, though. There is a glossary that does detail a lot of the lore and terminology that you'll come across, and it's sure to refresh the minds of fans and help players who are new to the series. There is so much information here that it can seem overwhelming.
Story mode plays much the same as in Chrono Phantasma, like a visual novel with fights scattered throughout. Unfortunately Central Fiction doesn't have English dub which could disappoint some (the dub in BlazBlue is usually pretty good), as it's very text heavy. Having said that, it is very well written so it may pull you despite of the sheer volume of text. And of course there are fights scattered throughout the story that help break up the wall of writing.
There are additional elements that add to the overall lifespan of the game. Grim of the Abyss has some RPG elements to it such as levelling up you character and equipping skills to take down bosses. It's quite easy to sink numerous hours into Grim of the Abyss as it can get quite addictive. There's Score Attack which is pretty much self-explanatory, and there's Speed Star mode. This gives you a number of courses to compete in, and if you fight well and finish your battles with a special attack you'll get a time bonus. There's lots to do and that's just offline. Online was good, too, and seemed pretty stable throughout. We spent several hours playing and only had two disconnections during that time.