Game Review: One Piece: Burning Blood (XB1)
10/06/2016 Leave a comment
It’s becoming a common tradition to see Bandai Namco Entertainment publish a One Piece game on a yearly basis and while the previous game, One Piece: Unlimited World Red, offered an independent storyline with a new cast of characters in an RPG styled environment this latest instalment, known as One Piece: Burning Blood, attempts to offer a brand new experience with it’s arcade style fighting mechanics.
Does this make One Piece: Burning Blood a game worthy of your time? Well that all depends if you liked J-Stars Victory VS+ as thats pretty much what this game is.
Developed by Spike Chunsoft, the studio behind the shonen jump collaboration J-Stars Victory VS, and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment One Piece: Burning Blood is an arena brawler styled fighting game featuring a wide-variety of popular characters from a small portion of the One Piece timeline. It sounds like an interesting game and features cell-shaded anime-styled visuals that make it look as if it’s jumped out of the manga; however dig deeper into the game and you may find that it’s not as expansive as you may think.
My interpretation of One Piece: Burning Blood is that the game would cover a wide-area of the anime series; but in fact the games episodic campaign mode – which is separated into four chapters each from the perspective of Luffy, Whitebeard, Arc and Akainu – only focuses its attention on the Marineford (Paramount War Arc) part of the timeline whereby we see Ace up for execution. It’s an important part of the One Piece storyline, and it does feature a lot of fights; but finding yourself suddenly being dropped into this part of the one piece storyline with no prior knowledge of whats happened does make this for a rather puzzling – but entertaining- experience; especially as i’ve yet to get anywhere near this part of the story within the anime or manga myself.
Some may argue that it follows a similar path to Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, whereby it focuses on a singular point of the storyline to deliver a better experience, but One Piece: Burning Blood is a ‘new entry’ into the One Piece videogame franchise, not a sequel, and as such should be treated as such. Furthermore Storm 4’s presentation of that particular part of the Shippuden storyline was much better handled than this was with its detailed replication of the anime and manga through CGI cut-scenes and dramatic dialogue. In Burning Blood however the story is moved along through a combination of still-screenshots from the anime series with a narrative dialogue from a narrator; meanwhile CGI action sequences – which replicate scenes from the anime, act as a build-up to the fight; which is of course a similar combination to what was offered in Storm 4. It may sound like Burning Blood is on par with the presentation seen within Storm 4; but in actuality it isn’t – which is a real let down but it’s to be expected considering CyberConnect2 have been making Storm games for several years (if not decades). In regards to each fight these are done through a mini-map selection whereby players move across dotted lines to pick their next fight and just like in Storm 4 side-stories, or what-if scenarios, will also appear on the map for players to select as they progress through the campaign mode.
In terms of actually fighting then combat is pretty much the same as J-Stars Victory VS; whereby players can dodge and attack through the use of buttons or use special attacks through button combinations. It’s all very straight forward and simplistic but in order to activate ultimate attacks, such as Luffy’s Second Gear ability, a guage must be fully charged and activated. If you’ve played J-Stars Victory VS+ then you’ll fully understand how to play Burning Blood as the transition is pretty seamless. Fights are pretty simplistic but an added twist sees up to three characters fighting against each other at once in tag-team scenarios and just like in other popular fighting games support characters can be used to deter attacks or chain attacks together for greater combinations. If my explanations seem terrible then do not worry as the entire episode of Luffy teaches you the basics of combat; but failing that a training mode is available later on.
Like I said; it’s all pretty simplistic and easy – which is a nice touch for newcomers to fighting games – but unfortunately some fights can feel unbalanced and overpowered. For instance characters that are able to perform charging attacks can see damage dealt to a destructive level (literally 2 hits and it’s KO!) and during the games campaign mode some missions will see your enemies be more stronger than usual (without warning) which may lead to some confusion and annoyance. Generally speaking the Burning Blood’s campaign mode is nice way to be introduced into the mechanics of the game; which is a good thing as you won’t be able to access in any other gameplay modes until majority of Luffy’s Episode in the campaign is completed; but at the same time enemies can feel incredibly overpowered and tough to defeat. Ironically enough in some instances you will be tasked with surviving for a set period of time rather than actually defeating the person you are fighting against so it’s always best to read the mission description before charging ahead into a fight.
Once all of the gameplay modes have been unlocked then you’ll soon realise that Burning Blood actually offers a reasonable amount of content; be it over forty playable characters and over twenty support characters alongside clan-match mode, multiplayer modes and a challenge mode to round-out the package. Personally I spent most of the time in the games campaign mode taking part in the missions with the four main characters but those wanting to look elsewhere can take part in a networking styled clan-match mode. In this particular mode players will join a crew from the franchise (Straw Hat Pirates, Whitebeard Pirates and so forth) and take part in weekly team events that see players fight against each other online.
The idea of this mode is that players will join a crew and fight for that crew in an attempt to be crowned the winning crew of that week. No prizes are awarded; but it does allow players to fight online against each other when invading other nations owned by that crew. It makes sense, and it sounds like an interesting mode; but personally it’s not one that I’ll be playing for any extensive period of time due to waiting periods. Of course those wishing to simply fight in a multiplayer match can do so through the multiplayer matching menus and as you would expect all traditional rules and regulations for fighting online can be found here such as both Casual and Ranked multiplayer matches.
The most interesting aspect of this game I found was the Challenge mode, otherwise retitled to the WANTED! Versus Mode. In this particular gameplay mode players will be challenged to defeat stronger opponents from numerous characters in the game and those that succeed will be given a nice amount of money and experience as a reward. Experience is earned in all gameplay modes but even now it still puzzles me as to what happens and in some instances you will find yourself pressing OK to skip several pages of uninformative level-up screens.
Unlike other anime-based fighting games money, otherwise known as Beli within the One Piece universe; is an important factor of Burning Blood as it is needed to buy additional characters, and support characters, for use within the game. Thats right; simply playing the game will not unlock additional characters for use in the other gameplay modes and as a result in order to actually use them you first need to play the game, earn money and then purchase them through the store. It’s a simplistic feature that I find not to be used in fighting games nowadays; but i commend Spike Chunsoft for including it as it means we actually have to play the game in order to unlock all of the characters.
Overall One Piece: Burning Blood is an interesting adaptation of the Paramount War arc of the One Piece anime series and features an extensive array of characters that even some Drgaon Ball Z games fail to compare to; but the relatively simplistic fighting mechanics and the similarities to J-Star Victory VS are painfully obvious that it feels like an extension to that game rather than a brand new title. Of course for me these weren’t the biggest issues as some poor translation work can be seen throughout the narrative driven sequence of the campaign mode and the way the game is presented as a whole, by forcing players to play its ‘straight into the deep end’ storyline, just do not sit well with me. It’s a great game; but it could have been a lot better and more explorative like Dragon Ball Xenoverse or Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm.
One Piece: Burning Blood is now available for the Xbox One, PS4 and PS Vita. A PC Version is due to be released later this month onto Steam.