Last Blade 2


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9.5

SNK has battled against Capcom for nearly 10 years, always trying to out-class their rival in the fighting game genre. With the Neo Geo hardware becoming more outdated by the hour, it would seem the battle was lost. Last Blade 2 is the culmination of years of attempted perfection and meticulous programming, all of it has proved worthwhile. Last Blade 2 may not only be the deepest 2-D fighter ever conceived, but quite possibly one of the greatest 2-D fighterd of all time.

Set in the late 1800s, Japan is a nasty place. Sixteen characters, each representing a different form of fighting, battle it out in sword swinging death matches. The fighters are at times generic (i.e. the typical big, slow guy with a large weapon, speedy woman fighter with short range, etc.), but each has a distinct personality. Once the battle has begun, players are forced to use every tactic available to battle their foes. The stunningly deep gameplay may not be noticeable to first time players, but with some experience, the depth becomes its greatest asset.

Countering moves is not simply luck in this game; it's a learned skill. Every move can be countered with precise timing and a quick press of the Y button. Successfully performing a counter will leave your opponent stunned, waiting to be slashed. Dodging and charging are also necessary skills that need to be mastered in order to beat this one. The 4 button controls handle all of this flawlessly with uncanny precision, a must for this game. 

Once a character has been selected, 3 different "styles" of fighting can be selected. Speed, power, and EX all change the way you'll behave in battle, also affecting how much damage you give/take. Every style has a different effect on each fighter, making this a key decision for the upcoming battle. All of these features combined make this arguably deeper than even Namco's 3-D fighting classic, Soul Calibur.

The games stunning animation may be slightly out of date as games like Mark of the Wolves have surpassed it, but it's still no slouch. Characters still animate fluidly and a majority of the time look better than most anime'. The characters also appear slightly blocky due to the low-resolution, but most will easily overlook these minor flaws. Larger characters are handled without slowdown and the speed of the game is set perfectly. Backgrounds are all meticulously detailed with plenty of small detail to admire. Some backgrounds hardly feature any animation at all except for some grass blowing in the breeze, creating a strange stillness and providing atmosphere. Extras include an art gallery with some great pre-production artwork and a cinema gallery with plenty to unlock. Take note that this game suffers from Super NES Mortal Kombat syndrome.....all the blood is white.

Re-creating the time period is also done in a convincing fashion thanks to the games soundtrack. Some stages feature no music at all, settling for ambience instead. Stages that do offer music use it sparingly with simple drums and flutes. While it may not seem to fit a fighting game like this, it's a necessity for time period. The sword clashes and other sound effects are flawless, coming through with great clarity. The characters all speak Japanese (duh) and the cinemas are all subtitled, but a few errors appear in the type.

Any self-proclaimed fighting fanatic owes it to themselves to find a copy of this one. Hours can (and will) be spent simply figuring out all of the different game mechanics. Some may not have the patience for all of this and will write it off as yet another Geo fighter. They don't know what they're missing. It may have taken them 10 years, but they finally did it. Capcom, stick your tired Street Fighter franchise in a closet. It doesn't belong in a world with fighting games like this.


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Last updated: Saturday, May 07, 2005 09:23 AM