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Bleach: Soul Resurrección (PS3) Review

Bleach: Soul Resurrección(PS3)

Publisher: NIS
America

Developer: SCE Japan
Studio

Tite Kubo’s Bleach is
and still remains a strong property around the world, as both its anime and
manga continue to maintain popularity even as I speak.  But now for the first time, Bleach seeks to establish a greater presence in video games with its first entry for
next-generation consoles: Bleach: Soul Resurrección.  Released exclusively on the Playstation 3, Soul Resurrección is endearing, well-made and does justice to its
franchise.

Unfortunately, it does not do
enough justice, resulting in a game that does not even try to maximize its full
potential.  What is an initially enjoyable adventure is unfortunately saddled with a confusing story for non-Bleach fans and a dearth of content to
keep players coming back for more.

Contents:

  • 1 player.
  • Three modes: Story, Mission, and Soul Attack
  • 14 Story chapters, 28 Mission stages, and
    six Soul Attack stages.
  • Online leaderboards for high scores in Soul
    Attack.
  • 21 playable characters.
  • Unique, customizable, leveling system.

Story: Taking place
after the rescue of Rukia Kuchiki, the game focuses on Sosuke Aizen and his
army of Arrancars as they plan to lay waste to the Soul Society and the World
of the Living.  It is up to Ichigo and
crew to defeat Aizen and his minions before their worlds are destroyed.

Gameplay: Bleach:
Soul Resurrección
provides an effective if basic style of game: destroy any
and all enemies from point A to B with everything at your disposal.  Combat is frantic and well-paced, and provides
a good experience.  While rudimentary in
approach, with Square being the basic attack, Triangle the range attack, and
Circle the special attack, the gameplay allows you to chain combos fluidly
without too much of a hitch.  When things
get hairy, you can then engage Ignition Mode, which not only powers up your
character but lets them to use an ostentatious super attack that will get you
out of a number of pinches.  The combat
is helped exponentially by nearly two dozen of the franchise’s eccentric cast.  From Ichigo’s swordsmanship to Soi Fon’s
martial arts, each character’s unique fighting style gives the experience a
great sense of variety.

However, for an action game
like this to take advantage of its combat system; it is necessary to give the
player many things to do.  Soul
Resurrección
disappointingly fails in this regard. Combat while fun is exceptionally sparse due
to the enemies being in very small numbers in very barren, short levels. Going
from Point A to Point B is not so much the problem, but the events in-between.  It all boils down to dashing through empty
space, killing a small number of foes, dash again, get trapped in a barrier
that will vanish when you kill what little enemies there are inside, head to the
next part of the level, repeat, then fight the boss.  You are not given any sense of urgency to take
full advantage of the game’s combat styles.

Sadly this is the case in all
three main game modes: Story, Mission, and Soul Attack. Story mode consists of
14 chapters easily beaten within three to four hours, with no investment given
to making the plot comprehensible. The tale is relegated to only a block of
narrated text before each chapter about events we would know from watching the
anime, some character banter within gameplay, and a cutscene before boss
battles.  Event mode consists of the same
thing sans exposition and cutscenes but with certain requirements depending on
the 28 stages.  Such caveats include but
are not limited to finishing levels in a certain amount of time or without
jumping or not being hit once.  Finally,
Soul Attack gives the gameplay a slight competitive dimension by having you
perform the same thing you have been doing in previous modes so you can rank in
an online leaderboard against other players. Unless you like being a completionist by
defeating these modes on the Hard difficulty or showing off your prowess to
others, there is not much to go back to after all the stages are beaten.

Such shortcomings would have less impact if there were not just more modes or content within what is already
there, but incentives like rewards and customization options.  The only item you are able to collect is
something known as a Soul Point, a lot of which is acquired through battle.  Your only avenue to use them is the game’s
leveling system, which takes its inspiration from Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid.  Like most of the game it
offers something nice and novel, you will not get a lotof mileage from it.  In fact you can beat all the levels in Story
mode without ever having to use the grid.  The only incentives to level up boils down
once again to whether you like being ranked S (the highest grade) for your
performance in game and online, if you like completing Mission mode, or if you
like collecting bottle caps of Bleach characters, each with their own set
of sound bites.  Other than that, there
are no items to gain, techniques to add, or even extra costumes to help immerse
you in the universe Bleach inhabits.  For a series so rich in content like Bleach,
being shortchanged like this is too much of a shame.

Graphics: Utilizing cel-shaded graphics, Soul Resurrección successfully emulates Kubo’s art
style.  Ichigo and the rest of the cast
retain their distinct looks from the anime version and fit in very well with
the stark, minimalistic design of Hueco Mundo. The combat is frenetic, engaging, filled with artistic flourish, and
chugs along a smooth frame rate that never dips TOO low. Above all else the
visuals move and look exactly like the show.

However that also is a detriment.  Stark and minimalistic may work in Hueco
Mundo and the interior of Los Noches, but not in Karakura Town and the
nondescript dojo that make up the rest of the game’s locales.  The sparseness of content (from destructible
items to enemies) in the levels eventually leaves too much of an impression,
and you are stuck wishing there was more to see. Add in a targeting camera that
gets rather testy when you try to dash to an enemy that is either right behind
you or above you and it gets worse.  You
cannot go wrong with the well-done aesthetics but it has very little to offer
and at times can get frustrating.

Sound: Music-wise the
game provides a varied set of guitar pieces that play throughout it.  They do a fairly adequate job to heighten the
mood but are for the majority part (with the slight exception of the opening
theme) wholly forgettable.  You will not
be humming them to yourself hours after the game, but it is not cacophonous in
any way.  Sound effects which follow suit
from the clang of swords to the energy blasts of Ignition Mode attacks resonate
particularly well.

The game provides English
and Japanese language options, both of which utilize their respective casts
from the anime.  Like the music they put
up a decent effort, but are ultimately unspectacular. Most of the dialogue range from shouting
attack names, providing morale, hurling insults, expositing on what little
story there is, and emoting on events you will not know about and as a result
will not care.  Still, it sounds like
Bleach, it is listenable, but in the end does not go above and beyond what it
set out to do.

Play Control: Control
in the game is sound and simple.  Taking
a cue from hack and slash games like Dynasty Warriors combat is a streamlined,
highly responsive affair.  You can easily
cut through numbers of enemies with relative ease and precision and when you
start acclimating yourself to your character of choice finesse is easily
refined.  The only flaws are the dash and
targeting system.  While simple to
activate, both of these are not polished enough.  You cannot really turn on a dime or move well
as you dash, and target-wise when you mess up or the camera goes out of whack,
an unpleasant amount of health is gone and your combo streak is broken.  Setbacks aside, the control is easy to learn
but has room for mastery.

Overall: It is hard
to recommend Bleach: Soul Resurrección.  The game does a lot of things well, but not enough.  Gameplay and
aesthetics will leave you intrigued, but story-wise you will be scratching your
head.  While the initial bit of enjoyment
will get you through the tale, there is not much to entice you to come back,
unless you like showing off your ranks in stages, level grinding, and acquiring
mundane trinkets.  You can do a LOT
better than Bleach: Soul Resurrección, but if you are intrigued it is
only worth a rental at best.  The body of
a great game is there, but it needs more soul put into it to become such.

One final note, if you
purchase the game new you are given a code for a free download of Bleach Episodes 191-193, all of which cover events taking place in the game.  There is a sad irony to this, for not only is
there more content squeezed in those 72 minutes than in the game, it is twice
more comprehensible and if you are new to Bleach, a better gateway to
get into the series.


 Graphics: 6.5

Play Control: 6.5

Gameplay: 5.0

Satisfaction: 5.0

Sound: 6.0

Overall: 5.8 (out of 10)

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