• You get a trophy for installing the game. Seriously. And it's a mandatory install, no less. Awesomely ridiculous.
• Even on the PlayStation 3, the visuals are - without hyperbole - the most beautiful example of cell shading I've ever seen. Character models and intros/outros are basically indistinguishable from 2D sprites and traditional cell animation.
• On the topic of the graphics, I suddenly have an acute need for a third Gungrave title. Ideally, one that pretends Gungrave Overdose never existed. Hell, just remake the original with Xrd's visuals…that game was already pretty much perfect.
• The game handles exactly like its 2D predecessors. Personally, I'm less enthused about this, as one of things that's appealed to me about 2.5D fighters over their HD-ified 2D counterparts is how much smoother the action feels.
• That being said, the game doesn't feel as stilted to me as the various iterations of X and XX did. In fact, Xrd is a pretty solid marriage of the original Guilty Gear (which remains my favorite) and the X series.
• AKSYS Y U NO LET ME SWITCH OFF THE SUBTITLES?!?
• Oh my god, backgrounds.
• In a first for any fighting game I've seen, there's an option to prioritize visuals or (I'm assuming) frame rate. Having tried both, I'd strongly recommend prioritizing visuals. Something about the way the game handles - both in terms of the graphics and movement - just feels off when prioritizing speed. Plus, you lose a bit of that "Wait, is this a cartoon? Holy shit, those are in-game 3D visuals!" impact.
• Finally, character colors are no longer tied to a button press, but are a separate selection a la Street Fighter 4.
• Overall, I like the smaller cast and sharper focus. It feels a lot more like the first Guilty Gear in many ways.
• My first reaction after dicking around with the game for a half hour or so: Everyone who enjoys fighting games owes it to themselves to pick this up. It's a beautiful, immediately enjoyable title which - on the surface, at least - doesn't appear to sacrifice much in the way of accessibility by kowtowing to the FGC.
• There's already a 1.01 patch available. Not sure what it does yet, but it's 417MB. I'll update with any changes I notice.
• Shoryuken.com has a breakdown of what the patch does, though it still seems a bit light for a 417MB file.
Also, to continue with my impressions…
• In classic Guilty Gear fashion, fighting the boss (Ramlethal Valentine) is about as fun as rug burn. Though she's still nowhere near as bad as the stonewalling shitshows that were Justice and I-No, respectively. It took me eight or ten tries to beat her on normal mode with the number of rounds set to one.
• Chipp remains one of my favorites. And he's so much fun to play in Xrd. Something about the way he handles in this sequel reminds me of Strider Hiryu from Marvel Versus Capcom…but only very slightly.
• I'm trying to dig Millia, but something about her just feels…I dunno…off. I probably just need to spend some time growing accustomed to her again, as I haven't really used her much since the original. But the way she transitions from movement to combat (any move, be it standard or special) has this weird start-stop-start-stop handling.
• Every fighting game should utilize some variation of Guilty Gear Xrd's story mode. Ideally, I'd have liked to see a modicum of interactivity in Guilty Gear Xrd's, but I'm totally ok with every fighting game presenting its story mode in what amounts to a high-end visual novel.