These modes are solid and give the game a lot of depth, but the crowning achievement of GGX2 is the Mission mode, which is a lot like the one in Soul Calibur. In this mode, each mission has a set of requirements that need to be completed before that mission is won. Before each mission, you can select the mission from a menu that lists the set of parameters that need to be completed. Each mission is slightly different, and some objectives include being the last one standing when time runs out, surviving for a set length of time, or simply defeating an enemy. Some missions require you to fight without Psych Burst enabled, or may force you to fight with limited attacks. Other missions give you with reduced health that gradually declines due to poison. The enemy characters may also have enhanced attacks with double or triple damage and can have healing abilities, such as fast regeneration, enhanced Burst levels, or more powerful attacks. The parameters are indicated before each round, and since you can skip around, more challenging missions can be held until you’re confident in your skills. Mission Mode is the most challenging and difficult part of the game but also the most satisfying because it requires a great deal of skill. This is especially true later on as the mission requirements become increasingly difficult to achieve.
Players will find 20 playable characters in the game, with 14 returning and 6 new characters to choose from. As usual, there’s an even mix of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ characters, and the game has a good balance between the abilities of each. Players will find that GGX2’s feel and fighting mechanics are quite similar this time out with consistent controls and combo systems. GGX2’s trademark elaborate special moves such as the chain combos are very much present in the new installment. However, the standard moves are joined by a variety of new techniques including the Psych Burst system that give the game a new level of depth. Before you can begin to master these advanced techniques, you’ll need to master the basic moves such as jumps, throws, sweeps, and more. GGX2’s fighting system also features Dust moves, which knock an opponent of their feet and the related Sweep move. Sweeps are similar to the Dust moves except that they are performed while crouching which gives you extra cover.
GGX2 features some elaborate moves called One Point Techniques, which include Jump and Roman Cancels, Counter Hits, Recovery Direction and Staggering moves. The counter system that lets you to block an opponent and damage them when they’re vulnerable Jump and Roman cancels allows you to stop a move in its track and keep an enemy off-guard. If your character is hit, you can get up faster and take less damage after being hit using the Recovery move but the interesting thing here is that GGX2’s Recovery direction allows you to control the direction in which you stand up. Staggering moves allow you to dizzy an opponent and give yourself a free attack. The most interesting of the one-point moves is the Faultless Defense technique. This creates a special aura around the character who cannot be damaged by normal attacks until the Tension Gauge returns to zero, though puts you at a disadvantage because it usually means that you won’t be able to perform a one-hit kill in that round.
Simple combos, called Gatling Chains can be performed by chaining simple moves together, and these can be quite effective in standard combat, but there’s more to the game than these moves. One very important aspect of GGX2 you’ll need to understand is the Burst and Tension gauge and how they affect play. The Bust allows you to perform Psych Burst moves, which can devastate an enemy, while the Tension Gauge allows you to perform an awesome one-hit kill on an opponent accompanied by an over the top animation. However, players are penalized if they try to turtle to avoid combat. Taking to long in these passive positions will cause the Tension Gauge to drop, all the way back to empty in some cases. You have to wait until either of these are filled up to use these moves, but they can be quite powerful. The new moves add depth to the game, yet integrate themselves seamlessly into the existing fighting system without throwing off the balance. This allows the strategic elements of each battle to come to the fore, making GGX2 a lot more challenging this time out. The fighting system is quite elaborate and there are numerous subtleties and nuances to master, though the learning curve isn’t that terribly steep.
Even though the fighting system is elaborate, GGX2 is surprisingly easy to get into. It uses a 4-button layout that means the standard PS2 controller offers excellent performance. Obviously, using an arcade stick offers superior performance and having one will maximize the fun you have, but isn’t essential. The controls in GGX2 are tight and responsive, with the fast-moving, fluid action making for a solid fighting game experience. While performing some of the more complex special moves can be difficult to achieve, you can call up a moves list during the match. Additional help is available by playing GGX2’s extensive Training mode that allows you to learn the standard and special moves. The training mode allows you to adjust the settings such as Gauge levels, blocking meters and more, which allows you to master some of the more elaborate moves.
Gear X2 is more than a little inspired by Heavy Metal bands of the 80’s and
the characters have names of some of the classic bands. The soundtrack
compliments the feel with a blaring mixture of loud guitars and heavy metal
thunder that adds to the intensity of the experience. Visually, GGX2 is one of
the more impressive 2D fighters to date with fluid animation that offers
non-stop action at an incredibly fast speed, with decent-looking backgrounds
that are colorful and vibrant. The anime rock and roll look is consistent
throughout with character designs that have a definite 80’s hair band vibe
evident. GGX2 also features wild, over-the-top special animations used when you
perform a special move. The sequel’s graphics seem about even with the first
game, which is disappointing on one level. Aesthetically, GGX2 is one of the
better-looking traditional fighters to come along in quite some time, and using
a hard-rock motif instead of the usual anime clichés gives GGX2 a unique style.