Thursday, February 10, 2011

GetAmped 2 - Review

Back in in the day, a little company named CyberStep created GetAmped (GA), a crazy, over the top fighting game with strong emphasis on near limitless customization. With hundreds of accessories, weapons and a skin editor, you could play as anyone you ever wanted. Despite having such an amazing concept, the experience was bogged down with sketchy gameplay, along with visuals that were a complete eyesore. Several changes to the game were made down the line, but it still felt shallow and dated.

Several years later, CyberStep released a direct sequel that attempts to change the gameplay up while addressing the issues of the first game. Did CyberStep finally get it right this time, or will they have to head back to the drawing board with this one?

From the get go, you have a choice between several character classes, each with distinct fighting styles. After a tutorial here and a training mission there, you're free to carve your path as a GAT fighter any way you'd like. Most fighting games would be satisfied with a couple of versus modes and nothing else, but GA2 comes complete with several PvP and PvE modes to keep players busy. Even if you're not into fighting all the time, there's also a social aspect to the game where each area has a lobby for players to meet up, chat and perform silly emotes for hours on end.

The biggest issue with GA 1 was with how sloppy the flow of combat was. While GA2 attempts to remedy this with more fast and fluid action, combat feels just as sketchy as before due to lack animations with most attacks.

While the game supports both keyboard and gamepads, after many sessions I came to the conclusion that controls flat out suck for keyboard use. The control scheme may be simple, but mix it with sketchy combat and you'll quickly realize that it's not up to the task. Playing on a gamepad, however, feels much more responsive. If you're ever fixing to get a few rounds in, I suggest not trying to play with a Keyboard. This game was MEANT to be played with a gamepad.

After mastering the control scheme, you'll still have to deal with the game's awkward guard and counter system. You have a choice between playing with auto and manual guarding: Auto guard will block all attacks in front of you, and manual guard makes you do all the work by pressing weak and strong attack buttons together in order to block. Countering attacks while guarding requires you to tap the attack buttons as soon as you take a hit.

While both auto and manual guarding have their advantages and disadvantages, there's very little frames of animation per attack, so making heads or tails out of your opponent's next move feels like an advanced version of hand-slap.

The amount of accessories and weapons you can choose boarders on the insane: Yoyos, baseball bats, pistols, needles, swords, staffs and anything you can think of...

GA2 features over 140 different accessories and counting...

...but with tons of weapons comes tons of balancing issues. A lot of accessories are too weak to be used in certain situations, and several more are flat out useless unless they're upgraded. Then you have these super "OP" accessories that are so powerful, they're nearly impossible to beat unless you have an OP accessory yourself. But of course, winning with any accessory takes considerable amounts of effort, but some less than others. (*cough cough*Twin Blades*cough*)

Overall: The core gameplay isn't perfect, but it certainly gets the job done. There's tons of ways for players to battle all pro-like with advanced combos and techniques, while anyone else on the ground level can jump in and have a good time. Most of the battles WILL be a clustering mess, but it's an enjoy mess for sure. The feeling you get when jumping head first into a mob of opponents, and then pulling off a completely outrageous attack to take them all out is just fantastic.

While GA2's PvP shines, GA2's PvE feels unpolished and tacked on. While the the game's AI may not seem like much as first, many of the game's later PvE missions and solo challenges (such as rival duels against Jacky Noboru), are guaranteed to make you pull your hair out. Enemy NPCs will block and counter most of your attacks with ease, and don't get me started on Bon Seagal's "I can chain every special attack into a combo" nonsense. It's almost as if CyberStep doesn't realize that a cheap difficulty isn't the same as a challenging one.

But the really stupid thing about the game's PvE difficulty is that most NPCs can be defeated by simply attacking their backs until they're groggy and tapping the weak attack button until they die. Don't you just love games with completely sporadic and unbalanced difficulties?

Visual presentation here isn't particularly special, but definitely a step up from the original, because instead of characters looking like cheaply made origami figures, they now look like a bunch of pose-able toy action figures... Or maybe something that came out of Super Mario 64... Environments look decent enough with average looking textures and a moderate amount of interactivity with each one, but they're nothing to write home about.

The game's original soundtrack uses lots of Jazz and DnB tunes, which is always a good thing in my book. Even if you don't like the OST, you can replace every song in the game with your own tunes using .ogg files. (One time, I changed some of the songs in the game with songs from Tekken, TWEWY" and Melty Blood... and it was AWESOME.)

Skin editing has always been the highlight feature for all of CyberStep's games, and GA2 is no exception. The game comes with a relatively easy to use skin editor that lets you to tweak your characters and accessories with detail. Even if you can't deal with GA2's built-in skin editor, you can export and import your skins into adobe photoshop files (.psd) and work with more powerful tools.

If the idea of playing as your favorite character or as your own original character interests you, you're going to love fooling around with the skin editor feature, especially when you can show off your skin while knowing that you are the only "you". Even if you're not artistic enough to make your own skins, you're free to download skins created by other players.

As a side note, one gripe I had with the game: The translation effort that CyberStep put into it. GA2's filled to the brim with "Engrish", misspellings and grammar errors. It's clear that this game is in desperate need of localization and not just a straight up translation, because it looks like every bit of text from the Japanese version of GA2 was simply copied and pasted into babelfish or something.

I know it's not right to discount the enjoyment of an online game based on the community that plays it, but GA2's community really makes me relive some bad memories. The community is filled with some bitter players that will taunt and swear at any given moment, so I sure hope you have some friends to play with or can be thick skinned enough to deal with them (It's like I'm really playing Rumble Fighter again!)

To conclude: GetAmped 2 is everything that GetAmped 1 should have been. The ridiculous action mixed in with tons of game modes will give players something new to do every time they log in. Despite its flaky combat system, the game is nothing like any other fighting game out there and can sometimes be incredibly addictive...

...and I should know, because even as I wrote this review up, I was playing the game between matches.


Fast and frantic action
Tons of accessories and weapons for near limitless customization
Tons of PvP/PvE game modes
Full blown skin editor lets you play as anyone (and I mean ANYONE.)
Pumping OST filled with Jazz and DnB


Sketchy combat
Average/dated visuals
"Engrish" and poor translations
Bitter community

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Anonymous said...

Great review.

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