What They Say
Based on the popular manga/anime series, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion depicts the battle between the Soul Reapers and the army of evil Arrancars that threaten the peace of the world. Bleach: Soul Resurreccion gives players the sensation of single-handedly destroying an army of monsters and evil spirits with lightning-fast swordfighting action. Gamers can re-live the experiences of various characters from the anime by closely following the original story. The environments are faithfully reproduced with beautiful cel-shaded 3D models that will satisfy even the most devoted fans. Bleach: Soul Resurreccion will give gamers an unparalleled anime action game experience.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Note: I received a review copy from NIS America for this review in a plain plastic case, so I am not able to review the packaging or manual for this release.
I would describe myself as a lapsed Bleach fan. I got into the anime several years late, and was slow to take to it. I found the Soul Society arc to be very entertaining, but decided to skip out on the “Bount” filler arc. Since then, complaints from fans about Bleach’s convoluted story and underused characters have prevented me from getting back into the series, until now. I had a lot of fun with Bleach: Soul Resurreccion, and I’m hoping to start up the anime again shortly.
Soul Resurreccion is a brawler in the Dynasty Warriors mold that takes place in the canonical Bleach storyline, from Hueco Mundo until the defeat of Aizen. Unfortunately, Bleach author Tite Kubo throws in so much foreign terminology in this arc that it would be impossible to explain the story to a non-fan without a glossary. To put it simply, teenager Ichigo Kurosaki and a friendly band of samurai exorcists must defeat a traitor and his army of demonic Arrancar generals. This involves a lot of button mashing, a lot of quick combos, and dispatching enemy Hollows by the screenful.
Soul Resurreccion uses cel-shading to phenomenal effect. The game opens with a series of clips from Studio Pierrot’s Bleach animated series, and many times during the game, I momentarily believed an animated cutscene was being shown. However, in game, all cutscenes are done with cel-shaded polygons. The character models and animations are extremely well done. Backgrounds are less detailed, and unfortunately somewhat monotonous. There are only four or five different kinds of areas, appropriate for when the game takes place in the Bleach story. The visuals of a vast, grey desert with grey buildings towering in the background may be striking on a black and white manga page, but onscreen in high definition, it really detracts from the visual impact. The human world tends to be more colorful, but even then, the generic cityscapes do little to stand out. It’s a shame the animated models aren’t given a worthier stage to perform on.
Soul Resurreccion’s sound has a similar dynamic: Characters shine, while backgrounds are found lacking. The game features both the Japanese and English casts from the TV series, so you can select the voice actors you’re most familiar with. Sadly, none of the music from the TV series is used here, and it’s been replaced by a more generic rock sound. It’s not bad music, and it certainly sets the mood for the battle, but it lacks the familiarity and character of the music to which we’ve grown accustomed. For my 20 hours of playing, I spent about half the time in Japanese, and half in English. I was more comfortable with the Japanese cast, as I had been watching the anime in Japanese, and to me, some of the English readings of certain characters just seemed to miss the essential nature of those characters. I also found it much easier to hear the endlessly repeated names of attacks in Japanese, rather than English. With English voiceovers on, the character Nnoitora repeatedly screamed “It’s stupid! And annoying!” while I attacked. I couldn’t agree more. That said, I commend NIS America for giving players the option of both languages.
Soul Resurreccion features several gameplay modes, each one unlocking the next, so I’ll describe them in the order in which they are available.
First is the 14 level Story Mode. Each level comes with a pre-set character to play. Your goal is to move through the three or four map segments to reach its end boss and defeat him. Along the way, you’ll have to dispatch countless fodder enemies and mid-level bosses. Upon beating the boss, you’ll unlock both the player character and boss character to play with in other modes.
So you don’t have to go searching elsewhere, the heroes you can play as are: Ichigo Kurosaki, Rukia Kuchiki, Uryu Ishida, Yoruichi Shihoin, Soi Fon, Byakuya Kuchiki, Shunsui Kyoraku, Toshiro Hitsugaya, Kenpachi Zaraki, and Kokuto from movie 4. Available villains are Hollowfied Ichigo, Stark, Barragan, Halibel, Ulquiorra, Nnoitora, Grimmjow, Gin Ichimaru, and Sosuke Aizen. It’s a strong roster of 19 characters, but some obvious favorites are overlooked.
Though it varies from character to character, each fighter possesses three basic attacks. The square button offers a basic slash, the triangle a ranged projectile, and circle an area of effect attack. After defeating a certain number of enemies, your ignition gauge will fill up, allowing you to perform a special ignition attack that targets all enemies on screen.
Especially on normal difficulty, you’ll find the challenge not in defeating enemies, but in trying to juggle them to build up slash combos. As your “slash” count reaches into the hundreds, you’ll be offered x2 and x3 multipliers on the green souls your enemies drop upon dying. These souls are the game’s way of keeping score, and they can also be used in the game’s level up mode to unlock bonuses and upgrades for all of your characters.
Boss fights play somewhat like the mecha fights in Virtual On. The bosses are almost all playable characters, so they also have ranged, area of effect, and ignition attacks. You can lock onto the enemy and use your dash to run around the arena at the speed of sound, or use the guard button to block attacks. While guarding, you can also use the analog stick to use Bleach’s signature movements where it looks as though the character is phasing in and out of reality from one point to another. These fights tend to be fast paced and incredibly tense, especially on the Hard or Very Hard difficulty levels.
Once the boss is defeated, your souls will be totaled, and you’ll be given a scoring rank, C, B, A or S.
Once you’ve unlocked your characters and collected enough souls, you’ll want to go to Level Up mode to upgrade your characters. This is modeled after Final Fantasy XII’s sphere grid. Your characters are placed on a giant, interlocking grid, and soul points can be used to unlock the upgrade in any adjacent space. Once an upgrade is purchased, the character levels up, and more of the grid becomes available to unlock. There are also padlocks between each separate character board on the grid. Once Rukia reaches level 12, for instance, a padlock is removed, allowing Ichigo to move onto her board and claim more upgrades. All of the characters have corresponding padlocks, so you are encouraged to level up all playable characters to at least level 20 in order to make the entire board accessible.
Alongside the expected vitality, attack, and defense upgrades, there are also mystery character spaces. When one of these spaces is unlocked, a Bleach character is revealed, as well as a special upgrade. These include attack bonuses against soul reapers or hollows, increased combo time, reduced knockback, and the ability to cancel attacks using guard or dash. You could easily spend hours leveling up all of your characters to level 150 and beyond.
If you want to unlock all of the collectible character models by beating Mission Mode, you’ll need to level up your characters. There are 28 missions, many of which are modified versions of levels of story mode. Some won’t allow you to jump. Others prevent use from using any ignition attacks. The worst have time limits and require you to fight two or three other characters in fierce 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 battles royale. After 20 hours of playtime, I found myself stuck at mission 21 and unable to advance any further without more leveling.
For those who do complete the missions, there is Soul Attack mode. These levels keep your scores and upload them onto networked leaderboards so that you can show them off to others. These are even more brutal than Missions, often combining several different standalone missions into a longer ordeal. For those who’ve found the challenge in Story and Mission mode lacking, you’ll easily be able to spend countless hours of play here.
The core drawback to Soul Resurreccion is that for a game that allows you to level up your characters to such an extent, there is a remarkably small pool of levels in which to play in. Even after completing Story Mode, it’s not possible to go back in and play levels with different characters. This leaves the 28-level Mission Mode to do most of your leveling and, well, grinding. Perfectionists might be happy to replay these levels over and over to max out their combos, but it would be great to have different levels, different backgrounds, or even better playable characters. Renji, Rangiku, Chad and Orihime show up in the story, but are not playable. However, Nnoitora and Barragan are? Who asked for that?
Bleach fans and brawler fans will find a lot to like here, with countless hours of challenge for those who enjoy perfecting slash combos, collecting souls, and leveling up their characters. What’s here is extremely polished, but some may quit before seeing all the game has to offer due to lack of variety. Still, it’s a solid, engaging brawler. Recommended for fans.
Content Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: T for Teen
Released By: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Approximate Play Time: 40+ Hours
Replay Value: Extremely High
Playstation 3, Sony Bravia 1080p 40″