Game Guys review - Black Rock Shooter: The Game

8:32 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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  • NIS America's 'Black Rock Shooter The Game' is a PlayStation Portable title.
  • NIS America's 'Black Rock Shooter The Game' is a PlayStation Portable title.

Every now and then Western game markets get an under-the-radar treat when a publisher decides to release a title that was previously only available in Japan.  The problem, however, is that sometimes these games are a few years out of date on a technical level due to the delay in the Western release.  Black Rock Shooter: The Game, which was recently brought to North America by NIS America, is one such title.

The whole premise behind Black Rock Shooter: The Game is that the citizens of Earth has been fighting a losing battle against an invading alien force.  In fact, there are maybe a dozen or so humans left on the all-but-destroyed planet.  That's where our protagonist, BRS, comes in.  You see, this gun-toting ecchi idol is actually a battle android who will risk artificial life and cybernetic limb to eradicate the invading threat and save humanity - all twelve of it.

Okay, so it might not sound like an award-winning plot, but there's probably a reason you're not getting too excited over it.  The thing is that it's based upon one of the more popular and newer manga/anime franchises in Japan - one that hasn't gained much traction here in the States.  It helps to be at least a little bit familiar with the source material, as was discovered shortly after the first hour or so of play.

As for gameplay itself, there is much about BRS:TG that is similar to other JRPGs.  Battles are the usual setup of good guys on one side and enemies on the other and feature an active turn-based system.  Characters level up, new abilites get unlocked, and so on.  One you get past those textbook-true qualities is where what makes BRS:TG unique-ish begins to stand out.

Rather than the typical party setup where the player has control over multiple characters during combat, BRS prefers to work alone.  Battles are presented with an over-the-shoulder-like view of the enemies and are given targeting cross-hairs rather than the genre-typical battle menu (ie: Fight, Item, Magic, etc.).  It's up to the player to aim at an enemy and let loose with a fury of bullets.  Likewise with BRS' special attacks.  Just keep in mind that she is a piece of cybernetic hardware and, as such, is prone to overheating.  Should a player go hog-wild and riddle everything with as many bullets as possible as quick as possible, BRS will most certainly overheat and leave herself vulnerable to anything that comes her way until she is able to cool herself back down.

The game itself is broken down into missions.  Once completing a mission, that mission's location will become unlocked for BRS to return to at the player's whim.  The more-or-less goal of these missions is for BRS to fight her way to each one's end boss, each with its own unique look and skillset.  These boss fights are easily the highlight of the game.  Unfortunately, the throngs of baddies players must smite on their way to those end bosses get old fast.  While the variety of enemies might be there, it simply doesn't feel like it and it'll begin to wear on the player a few hours in.  It's not that players won't want to continue on with the game, it's just that working their way through the rabble begins to feel like a chore well before the game ends.

Presentation is easily the biggest black mark on a game that really isn't half bad otherwise.  Playing on the PlayStation Vita, the BRS:TG looks very much like an early PlayStation 2 title.  While this is probably because its initial Japanese release was in 2011 when the PSP was all Sony had handheld-wise, but it would have been extremely nice had developer Image Epoch or even publisher NISA upgraded the graphics to look not so dated.  Luckily, audio isn't quite so bad.  It features a Japanese-language voice track with English subtitles - something that anime and JRPG purists should quite appreciate.  Furthermore, the high-energy soundtrack works well with this fast-paced title.

Black Rock Shooter: The Game should ultimately appeal to those who already like JRPGs and it could also be a good gateway into the genre for fans of third-person shooters.  Whomever does decide to give it a go, however, might find them selves a little put-off by game's obviously outdated graphics - especially for those playing it on the Vita.  That stated, it's well worth consideration seeing as the game is all of twenty bucks on PSN as a downloadable title for both PS Vita and PSP.

19/25 14/25 17/25 15/25 20/25 71/100

Version tested: PlayStation Vita (Also on PlayStation Portable)

(NISA supplied a copy of this game for review.)

See how what our review scores mean and how the math adds up.


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