December 19, 2019 at 12:08 AM #687
Fighting EX Layer
Rating: 3.5 – Good
A Flawed Game That Has A Lot Of Potential
The core gameplay of FLEX is very fun and addictive and it feels very different to a lot of other current fighting games. The cast of characters is limited but each character feels very unique save for the launch DLC character, Hokuto, who unfortunately is just a weaker version of Shirase. I think it would have been better to have Hokuto as a costume and has a character like Pullum or V.Rosso be the launch DLC character instead.
The gameplay is fast and frantic and the emphasis on movement and whiff punishes feels quite different to the setplay and turn taking that is prevalent in other games. A lot of moves have a long recovery if whiffed while blocking an attack is rarely as advantageous. You’ll be relying on shuffles and dashes to get around an enemy’s offense and it feels rewarding when you do it. games are fast and frantic and I can’t help but keep going back for more.
One of the most unique elements of FLEX is it’s Gougi system. Before a match begins you’ll select a deck of Gougi which serve as a series of objectives in the match (like dealing so much damage or using so many Special Attacks for example) and when you fulfill those objectives you get a buff of some kind like more damage or you become faster but the system goes beyond simple buffs as there’s also Gougi for turning invisible, draining health from the enemy, boosting the rate of the super meter and more. It’s a really interesting system for the most part and you can use it to enhance a character’s strengths or cover their weaknesses, it does have one flaw though in the form of the Juggernaut deck. The main Gougi in this deck rewards the player for getting knocked down repeatedly for giving them nearly infinite super armour for the rest of the match. The only things that seem to bypass this armour are attacks with hard knockdowns or air-to-air attacks. It’s a ridiculous Gougi that rewards losing and invalidates the vast majority of the enemy’s moveset. It’s not rewarding to use since it’s a substitute for skill and it’s not rewarding to play against since you’ll be limited to a few attacks at best. It’s a shame since most of the other Decks seem well thought out and fair but Juggernaut is a glaring problem.
While the core gameplay is good, the package as a whole leaves a lot to be desired. You can fight online or against friends locally and you have a training mode, an obligatory combo challenge mode and a survival mode hidden deep within Training and that’s it. It’s a very barebones package and the lack of ways to play against the computer will put a lot of people off. While I don’t value it that much, I can see that the lack a simple vs CPU mode or even a barebones arcade mode is a glaring omission.
As for the online, it seems like the netcode holds up pretty well. As a UK player, I’ve fought against enemies in the US with little to no lag or problems. The game is barebones but the online holds up.
Core Gameplay – 8/10, Features – 2/10, Online – 8/10
Graphics, Aesthetics and Sound
The graphics look pretty good, there’s a bit of a cheap looking sheen to them but the art direction is nice and I like pretty much all the updated character designs. The only real problem I have with how it looks is that the animations are janky and have obviously been lifted from the old EX games with only a little bit of work done to upgrade them but it’s a problem I’m willing to forgive. The Arenas look pretty nice and, as I said before, aside from the sheen, the art direction and look of the game is pretty strong.
In the beta, the sound was clearly lifted from the old games and it was distracting but it seems like they’ve cleaned it up a lot in the final product and, aside from some repetitive phrases that grate after a while, the sound effects seem pretty passable. As for the music, it’s not something that really caught my ear, I can’t remember any specific songs which is suppose is an issue in itself but not one I care about.
Graphics – 7/10, Aesthetics – 8/10, Sound – 5/10
Light Version or Full Version?
This choice comes purely down to whether or not you care about Hokuto and the extra Gougi decks. Looking at the base decks, most players could thrive easily without the extra decks and Hokuto’s inclusion (for me at least) feels a bit flat for a full version incentive. That, combined with the barebones package as a whole pushes me towards saying that, for most players, the Light version would perhaps be a better deal but it really comes down to personal preference and how much you value Hokuto and the extra decks.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this game thus far and it has the makings of something potentially great but there’s a lot of work to be done before it realises that potential. With the exception of the problematic Juggernaut deck, the core gameplay is pretty great but the available options are lacking. although the online seems pretty reliable. If you buy this game, I think you need to realise beforehand that you are investing in it’s potential for growth rather than the product it currently is. If you are a fan of the EX games then you’ll most likely already be on board but other fighting game fans should perhaps look into the game first to see if they can accept the shortcomings. I really would not recommend this for anyone other than the hardcore fighting game fans though, there’s not really enough to keep a casual fan interested for very long.
Final Score – 7/10
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