Bleach: Soul Resurrección
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Price: $59.99 US – Pre-Order Now!
Usually when you hear about a game being localized for North American release by NIS America, you will probably guess that that game is going to either be a strategy RPG of some sort or at least be a basic RPG. But this time NIS America has brought something new to North American shores in the form of Bleach: Soul Resurrección. Not only is Bleach: Soul Resurrección outside of the normal game type for the company, but it is also their first anime franchise title. How does NISA’s first venture into a more action styled game turn out?
Bleach: Soul Resurrección follows the story of the Bleach anime itself and joins Ichigo, his friends and his fellow Soul Reapers in the fight against Aizen, his Arrancar leaders and a massive army of Hollows. The story is spread out across 14 different story chapters that focus on advancing the main plot of the game, taking our heroes from the fights in Hueco Mundo to the Fake Karakura town.
The game follows the Bleach anime/manga storyline very closely. As such, lovers of the anime (such as myself) will find the most enjoyment out of the happenings in the chapters. Unfortunately this can be a problem for everyone else. Little is said about the actual storyline to explain what is happening at any given time nor is much backstory actually given. This means that anyone wanting to play the game without being even vaguely familiar with the Bleach storyline will be left out to dry.
For everyone else who has knowledge of the happenings of Bleach and know what a Bankai is then you will be happy to hear that the game is extremely true to the storyline, although it does jump around quite a bit and skip over smaller battles. There are countless important fights that occur in the show that are translated right into the game. This means that you can fight Grimmjow with Ichigo as many times as you want and take on the Arrancars with the various captains from the 13 Court Guard Squads.
As I mentioned before the storyline is spit up into individual chapters and, although some unlock only after completing another level but thee are also times where multiple chapters will be unlocked, allowing players to have a little bit of a choice as to how they progress through the story. The majority of the story is told in the narrated dialogue before each chapter begins, which is a bit of a disappointment since having cutscenes or even clips from the show itself.
There is some dialogue between the characters themselves as you advance through a stage by defeating enemies, but the problem here is that you will never actually see the other characters on screen except for a little picture showing which one of them is talking at the time. The dialogue is handled much like a Dynasty Warriors game, though the characters don’t even appear on the battlefield which makes the whole interaction feel unattached and generic, even if it does provide story as you go through the levels.
As a viewer of the Bleach series nearly since it began, it should be easy to take and pick apart the various problems with the way the characters look or how their Bankai or Resurrección looks. The problem here is that there is nothing to pick apart or question. Bleach: Soul Resurrección does such a great job with the character designs that even avid watchers of the anime will find trouble finding anything inconsistent with the show itself.
The overall art style used for the game is that of cel-shading which is visually appealing and hold a perfect balance between too anime-like and too-different and providing just enough of a change to make the 3D designs of the characters and they not only retain the anime aesthetic but are overall pleasing to look at. The standard enemies are more diverse than you would usually find in a standard hack and slash such as this, but after a few chapters you will still end up feeling like the enemies are very repetitious.
The background and level designs however are a bit bland in appearance, but this can be also accredited to the source material from the anime itself. The environment of Hueco Mundo was never very brightly colored or decorated. The environments were lifeless, full of white sand, dead trees and black skies, and this is replicated quite well in the game, but it still feels bland. There are a few times that the player will play in the normal world which look decent enough but they can become just as repetitive as the rest of the gameplay levels as you make your way through each chapter and extra missions.
Those who are eager to hear what language dubs will be available in Bleach: Soul Resurrección will be happy to hear that the game indeed comes with both the English and the Japanese dubs of the series. This is a great addition to the game and fans of the series will be able to pick exactly who they prefer to listen to, with purists able to pick the Japanese dub and those who enjoy listening to the English version as well.
I played throughout the game sampling both versions of the dub and you can see that these voice actors did a great job and actually had to have enjoyed their work when they handled these characters. The voice work itself is superb, but there is a bit of a problem when you consider how it is implemented.
The fact of the matter is that, throughout your time playing the game, you will be hearing a lot of commentary from your allies when you are playing through a level. This is fine at first but the problem gets much worse when you are treated to practically the same lines of dialogue often enough. This is heightened by the fact that every single time you use a special move of some sort, or even do a simple dash you will receive the same lines of dialogue again and again.
Now while it may be true that in the anime itself the characters will shout out their special move’s name when they use it, but that is usually spaced out and made bearable. But the problem with having this in the game itself is that you will be using your special moves quite often, hearing the same thing again and again that it may drive you crazy after only a short time.
On the other hand the background music itself is very well done. The music is fast paced and it is very enjoyable to listen to, especially when you are plowing through countless Hollows. Some players may also notice that the opening song to the game has been changed. This is apparently due to licensing problems, but it still works quite well with the new instrumental opening.
Now I mentioned only once so far throughout this entire review that the game had something similar to Dynasty Warriors, but now I’m afraid that there may be a bit more of that in the upcoming description. But before you move your mouse away from this screen you should keep reading. Bleach: Soul Resurrección takes that standard hack and slash formula and does something that hasn’t been done in an extensive library of games from that series. It makes it fun.
Bleach: Soul Resurrección is a third person hack and slash game, which means that players will be taking control of their character and defeating waves of enemies at a time as they advance through a level. The standard layout for the level follows a sort of repetitive pattern however. Gamers will usually pick their level, be treated to a bit of storyline and then fight many weaker and mid-leveled Hollows before they reach either the end of the area or reach the boss they are supposed to fight.
Now while some people may find this a bit too linear in perspective, the fact that this game is based around an anime series is actually very beneficial in this regard. The reason this is beneficial is because this captures the nature of the anime itself rather well, though those who aren’t looking for a true-to-show experience may find it a bit boring that these story chapters follow the same formula.
Players will be using a rather simple set of controls to deal out the damage to the Arrancars and Hollows in their way. There are your standard attack buttons, jump and dash buttons and special attacks. Also what type of shōnen series would this be without a way to power yourself up in the middle of battle. This is handled through an ignition gauge that periodically fills up as you fight with enemies, take damage or pick up items that boost it.
Players can enter ignition mode by pressing the L2 button and it will allow their selected character to enter a super powered mode for a period of time. For example, Ichigo will place on his Hollow mask and become a temporary Vizard. Other characters will boost their power in different ways, usually story related to that character themselves. A second press of the L2 button will drain the ignition gauge fully and unleash the characters’ signature attack and do extreme damage. This signature attack is so powerful in fact that it casually is a bit imbalanced during boss fights, usually draining their health significantly and taking away the challenge a bit.
While this may sound like your average run of the mill hack and slash beat em up at first, once you get into the game it is anything but. Perhaps it is because of the familiarity of the characters themselves, but it is also because of the vast majority of fighting styles and techniques that each playable character has. There are no characters that will be using the same type of attacks or power ups, which not only spices up the combat but also provides that extra layer of authenticity.
Outside of the story mode, you will also find Mission Mode which provides up to 28 different unique missions that allow the player to take any of their unlocked characters through the mission of their choosing. The missions range from easy to very hard and can be used to not only pass the time, but also level up your characters. These Mission Mode battles are enjoyable and, considering the leveling up aspect, many players will be spending a lot of time earning experience, otherwise known as Soul Points.
The Soul Points are green, tiny floating fires that fly towards your player as you defeat enemies and destroy the environment. These Soul Points are the bread and butter of Bleach: Soul Resurrección as they are your only method to level up your characters. In-between missions you can spend Soul Points in an upgrade board that can buff up the characters attack power, HP as well as other things.
Despite all of this however, Bleach: Soul Resurrección still can begin to feel repetitive after a short period of time. The fact of the matter is that, even though there is a lot of familiarity with the characters and uniqueness to their fighting styles, the game is more or less still a hack and slash game that can become boring and repetitive if played for an extended period of time.
Now, Bleach: Soul Resurrección is far from a perfect game. It still feels repetitive even though the combat is certainly enjoyable in small portions, the story mode itself is a bit limited in actually telling the story and those who do not already have knowledge of the series will be mostly lost on what is happening and the background visuals can be bland. But even with all of this, Bleach: Soul Resurrección still manages to stand out from the crowd as far as hack and slash games go. There is a ton of detail placed into the character designs and honestly it can be a genuinely enjoyable game with endless replay value due to every unlockable character being able to level up. Mainly this is a game based off of anime franchise that is widely popular in the United States, and you know what? It does a great job for those fans of the series. The characters and their voices are instantly recognizable and fans eager to get more out of their Bleach experience should look no further than Bleach: Soul Resurrección.
I give Bleach: Soul Resurrección