Review by Heatmiser
"The shortest, shoddiest Dynasty Warriors clone yet. And that's saying something!"
In the same amount of time it'll take you to finish reading this review, you probably could've experienced a good 75% of what Bleach: Soul Resurreccion has to offer. It is by far the shortest video game I've played during this generation of video gaming, and that includes downloadable indie games that're sold at a fraction of the price. Even a diehard Bleach fan should look at this title with some pause, and consider, at most, a brief rental of what has ended up being one of the most disappointing games I've ever played.
Let's get one thing straight off the top, not only do you have to be a fan of the manga/anime Bleach (which this writer is) to wring even a moment's joy out of this game, but you undoubtedly MUST love the Dynasty Warriors style of gameplay (which this writer does), as Bleach: Soul Resurreccion apes it to a tee, proving that milking dollars out of prospective gamers was a much more important task for SCEI than actually making a good, original product. Rest assured this is Dynasty Warriors: Bleach, only without the signature charm and depth the Koei stalwart has offered gamers for years. If you're going to copy the best, try to do a good- or even adequate- job at it next time, okay SCEI?
BSR (we'll just refer to the game as BSR from here ona brief abbreviation for a brief video game) begins with Ichigo trying to free his friend Orihime from the clutches of Aizen and the arrancars, and pretty much plays right on up to the end of the whole Aizen/Hogyoku saga. Yeah, I should probably warn you: gamers will have to know a LOT about Bleach's story to enjoy this game, particularly the storyline toward the end of the fake Karakura Town arc. If you don't, the minimal amount of character design and depth that went into BSR will be completely lost on you, and you'll essentially be playing a pointless, subpar beat-em-up for no reason. Even a to-the-bone fan of Tite Kubo's wonderful manga and anime series will have a hard time justifying the tiny amount of gameplay you're given in this title, however, as what took Kubo years to produce in manga form is boiled down into little more than a dozen individual chapters, which each amount to a single battle stage for a single character, though more often than not that character is Ichigo and his sad little three-move moveset.
Sure, if you're like me, the idea of playing through an entire Bleach game as, for example, the crazy Kenpachi, icy Toshiro, or nerdy Uryu would have been an absolute blast, not unlike playing through an entire Dynasty Warriors campaign as Guan Yu, Dian Wei, or any of your other favorite heroes. Not so much in BSR, however. Of the 15 or so Story Mode chapters, only a small handful of Bleach characters are devoted a starring role, and for precisely one chapter only. After you defeat Byakua's chapter, for example, you are no longer allowed to use him to finish the story; a one-and-done situation. You don't even need to level him up to beat his "chapter" on Normal or Hard mode if you're clever enough, which means you can beat every chapter in only a few hours, effectively rendering this game as one of the shortest in the history of its genre. Hell, in the history of the PS3! You know what's almost as bad? Your reward for beating some chapters is unlocking some of the villains of the game to use as playable characters. Sounds pretty cool until you find out they don't even get one stinking chapter devoted to them. Any of them. You have to use them just for the sake of using them, knowing full well that leveling up characters in BSR is a CHORE, taking you days, potentially, if you wanted to max out even one character's skill set (via BSR's Final Fantasy 10-like skill grid) by grinding Soul Points from defeating random bad guy after random bad guy in Story and Mission Mode. I'm bored just typing about it, but I have to discuss it even more later on in the review. Sigh.
Of course it wouldn't have been canonical to fight through a game full of established Bleach history while playing as, oh, little-used goofball enemy Grimmjow. But it's not exactly historically accurate to unify China under the rule of Meng Huo either, yet Dynasty Warriors indulges the gamer's sweet tooth for fighting frenzy fun by letting him do it anyway. It's called going the extra mile to make an enjoyable product, and it's a concept where the makers of BSR need a few lessons taught to them. Allow me to summarize it to them briefly: Let me play through the main portion of the game as whatever character I want. Don't force Ichigo on me constantly and neglect more interesting, fun characters I actually wanted to use, making them all but irrelevant.
Aside from the game's canonical Story Mode is Mission Mode, which is Story Mode without the story. Yes, as if TRYING to be more boring, Mission Mode lets you tackle random, inconsequential, fruitless, completely made-up missions for no reason other than to build EXP and justify a full price tag. Conclusion: it bores while doing the former and fails completely at doing the latter. The whopping variety of FOUR whole different backgrounds BSR gives us (desolate desert, dreary indoor temple, boring Soul Society backyard, and bland city skyline, all of which are underwhelmingly rendered in a style that will look pathetically familiar to PS1 owners) start repeating quickly, uninterestingly, and immediately, and bored me to tears within a handful of missions. (And online mode offers you generally the same thing. But online! With your friends! Be bored and melancholy together!) Sadly, there are over two dozen mission mode missions, and I can't in all good faith argue that beating all of them on hard and very hard mode just to get a couple trophies is worth your time. Heck, I'm having a hard enough time saying that a mere rental of this game is worth your time. Actually, no I'm not: it's not worth your time. There.
Though it sounds like I'm unilaterally ragging on this game, I do so with a bit of sadness. The characters of Bleach, of the source material, are brought to 3D life appropriately well and representative of the lively, vibrant anime and manga series we know and love. Yeah, I wish you could have used Rangiku, Shinji, Yamamoto, or some of our other favorites, but I'll take what I can get in a game as lacking as this one. BSR gives us roughly a dozen soul reapers and another dozen arrancars/enemies, plus their special moves, bankai super moves, and various magic spells and super attacks are all here. You may actually manage to have fun rattling them off against the few dozen or so baddies per level.
That's not a lot of enemies to fight, given Dynasty Warriors games often throwing thousands of bad guys at us per single level. But you have a very small selection of attacks to choose from, generally letting you peel off only one normal combo (square button), one ranged combo (triangle), one area attack (circle), and then the BANKAI~! super attack achieved with the L2 button. Unlike the DW games, you cannot mix and match these moves to create your own sub-combos and sub-sub-combos, so fighting can become a bit monotonous, even for a Dynasty Warriors clone. That said, most levels are so short-- not usually something I value in $60 video games!-- that it won't bother you too much. Well, in theory it won't.
And in theory this should have been a quality video game. Wonderful source material, a genre of gaming ripe for new blood and fresh ideas, and a video game system powerful enough to put the Soul Society and Hueco Mundo in vibrant, beautiful color and detail. We got none of this. We got a game you can clear most of within a single sitting, with flotsam characters filling the disc that you don't even need to USE in order to finish most everything worth doing. You could call me naive for thinking a licensed Dynasty Warriors rip-off would be anything more than the 5-hour waste of time that it was. Maybe I am naive, but I couldn't help but hope a video game based on such a wonderful story about the epic clashes that occur between those who have transcended life and death would be a little bit better than a D+. Bleach indeed. If only I could bleach this game from my memory.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/11
Game Release: Bleach: Soul Resurreccion (US, 08/03/11)
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