Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late Review (PS3)
It is always exciting to try what could be a great new fighting series. Especially when that title is developed by French Bread, developers of the respected but underappreciated Melty Blood series. Under Night In Birth Exe:Late is an updated version of the popular Japanese fighter: Under Night In Birth. This is its first release in the West and I was excited to see if it could stand up to more seasoned series in the genre.
Upon starting the game you have the standard run of standard fighting modes (Arcade, Versus, Online, Training and Survival). Surprisingly there is no actual dedicated story mode. This is a shame, as there are various factions battling it out with each other over what appears to be an interesting but convoluted lore in the game which I feel could have been explored in greater detail. The arcade mode does however have story cut scenes for each of the characters. Providing a little explanation as to why they are all roaming around at night.
In Under Night however, the lack of features such as a story mode is not too much of a mood dampener as the actual gameplay is fantastic. Although graphically there are some similarities to other anime styled 2D fighters, with many characters looking like they could have easily made the jump from Arc System Works Blazblue. They all thankfully play quite differently from each other and there is sure to be a character to match your playing style, with their own strengths and weaknesses which makes for some interesting match ups.
Compared to its contemporaries, Under Night has a much greater emphasis on ground play and those coming to this game from similar looking series such as Guilty Gear may find the difference a bit of a culture shock. Fights are fast paced and aggressive thanks to the Grind Grid system, which rewards players for successfully attacking, and moving towards the opponent. Conversely, backdashing and taking damage reduce your grid portions. However blocking successfully also fills this grid, so wildly flailing in and attacking is just as dangerous as continually retreating or backing off.
This system is given more urgency by the fact that there is a timer ticking over on the GRD which will send whoever has filled more of their grid blocks into an elevated state known as GRD Vorpal. This grants them more damage and access to “Chain Shift”, which can be used stop time and cancel into other special moves. So it is in your best interests when playing, to fight aggressively and intelligently.
If it sounds like this game can get quite complicated, then you are quite correct. For people who want to learn the intricacies of the fighting systems and string together complex combos there is a lot of potential here. For people that want to play the game, but don’t necessarily have the time needed to master a character, the smart steer system is here for you. This is an auto combo system that gives you a simple combo by pressing weak attack seven times. You probably won’t be winning many ranked matches online with this feature, but it’s nice if a friend comes over and wants to have a few matches.
Having played a few matches online, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was little to no lag. The online modes are pretty standard, with ranked matches where you can raise your online status with every win, or player matches where you can compete with no damage to your reputation.
Under Night In Birth Exe: Late, has a title that sounds an email attachment you should not considering opening. Title aside, this is a fantastic fighting game with a great combat system which novices can pick up and enjoy and experienced players can delve into and carve out their own unique intricate play style. With a versatile cast of strange of wonderful characters that play well and quite differently, it’s a release that deserves a rightful place in any fighting game fans collection and a title I hope gets the attention it deserves.
4.5 Chain Shifts out of 5Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late Review (PS3),