BlazBlue: Central Fiction is the seventh and final game in the BlazBlue series. Being the seventh game in the series means that Central Fiction has a not unsubstantial list of characters and plot points. The game does include the option for a recap of the series for new players, and there is the usual visual novel addition of annotations to clue players in on the meaning of new concepts. Such additions are appreciated but even without them it would be unfair to mark down the game too much for having content that new fans might have difficulty understanding. As the seventh game in a series that is all but bound to happen.
Story modes to some degree have existed in fighting games for decades now and BlazBlue is no exception. It has a detailed story with a myriad of characters and themes of family, and our deepest desires (to name but a couple). What the story mode doesn't have very much of is actual fighting. The best fighting game story modes keep a good balance between the narrative and the action. BlazBlue: Central Fiction contains no such balance. It is basically just a visual novel with a handful of fights. There is nothing innately wrong with visuals novels but it is disappointing to find one in a fighting game.
Of course while the stories of fighting games have gained increasing prominence over the years it isn't the only thing that people are looking for. Readers will be pleased to know that the fighting that is missing from the story mode is to be found amongst the games' impressive array of other modes. Not only is there the usual arcade mode but there are other modes tailor made to different styles of challenge. Regardless of which of your skills you want tested (be it the ability to beat opponents quickly, or endure foe after foe with little respite).
The other reason that Central Fiction's nature as a sixth sequel is important is that it means the developers have had plenty of time to refine the gameplay of the series and plenty of experience in doing so. Combat flows well and each of the different characters has something different to offer. With a bit of trial and error, and practice, new players will easily find which character works for them (and old characters will continue to enjoy fighting with familiar favourites).
In terms of visual style BlazBlue is bright and vibrant. Unlike other series which have made the jump to 3D BlazBlue has always been, and continues to be a 2D fighting series. Sharply drawn characters compete against each other in beautifully drawn backgrounds. Everything from the characters to the areas they fight in are rich with bright colours.
BlazBlue: Central Fiction is a wonderfully bizarre, Japanese melodrama with giant swords and hyperactive cat girls. It is let down by a story mode that forgets it is in a fighting game but this is more than made up for by the other game play modes on offer. The beautiful oddities of the series can be found in every aspect of the game, from the story, to the characters, to the art design. If you like your games to be a little different, and very weird then give this game a look.
BLAZBLUE: CENTRAL FICTION / DEVELOPER: ARC SYSTEM WORKS / PUBLISHERS: ARC SYSTEMS WORKS (JAPAN), AKYSS GAMES (NORTH AMERICA), PQUBE (EU) / PLATFORMS: ARCADE, PLAYSTATION 3, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW