Just a quick note before we proceed with the review, I think it best to make something clear, Project X Zone 2 is pure fan service. In case you’re wondering what that means, the term refers to material in a work of fiction or in a fictional series, added purely for the audience and nothing else.
If you’ve played the first game then you’ll know what to expect from Project X Zone 2 but if you’re coming into the series with fresh eyes then stick around. We’ve got a lot to talk about! As the title would suggest, this is a sequel but you really don’t need to have played the first one in case you’re worried about plot and backstories. PXZ 2 isn’t going out of its way to shatter the genre of tactical role-playing games, nor is it aiming to please the mass market, it knows what it is and its happy to play up to that strength.
Characters from across video game worlds owned by Sega, Nintendo, Capcom and Bandai Namco are drawn together when their respective worlds are thrown into danger. How could Street Fighter’s Chun Li team up with Yuri Lowell from Tales of Vesperia or .hack’s Kite with Jill Valentine from Resident Evil? What could possibly draw them together? The story isn’t even subtle in its half-heartedness but that doesn’t matter to the characters who are more than happy to point it out in case you’re not aware of the levels of absurd the game reaches. It also doesn’t matter to the player, why should it? If you’re asking why it’s cool that Dante and Fiora are paired up in a fight, you’re playing the wrong game!
The plot, if you’re interested is centred around an organisation known as Shinra and two agents Xiaomu and Reiji who investigate and deal with inter-dimensional matters. They’re the glue or at least the blue tac that’s meant to hold the story and characters together as they travel from world to world collecting heroes and anti-heroes in their mission to set things right. It’s superficial but the game makes no qualms about the imperfections.
What the game lacks in story it more than makes up for in dialogue! The exchanges between characters, familiar and newly introduced are hilarious! The whole thing is very tongue in cheek and that’s what I loved most about PXZ 2; it really doesn’t take itself seriously at all! Watching Phoenix Wright get caught in the middle of the Mishima family feud, Ulala report from the sidelines, it’s chaotic, wonderful and does so much to break up the monotony of gameplay.
Yeah it’s not perfect, the game knows that but that doesn’t make that fact okay! If you’re looking for gameplay and tactics to test your skills in the genre then you’re going to want find something else. PXZ 2 doesn’t pose any real difficulty in terms of challenge or systems. According to early reports the game planned on addressing concerns players had with the system and gameplay in the first game while I can’t attest to that I can say it handled pretty well and was easy to understand.
You’ll move your paired up characters around a map, avoiding traps, flanking and engaging enemies and bosses. Once in combat your pair will attack, juggle and combo hits against their target, racking up big damage the higher the combo. By expending XP/SP you can utilise different techniques and call forth other characters to assist you. If you have a fighter to assist or pull off your pair’s most powerful move you’ll be treated to a visual festival of punches, techniques, kicks and an animated cut-scene of a fighter powering up before unleashing a signature move. You’ll earner points to level up and currency for each fight you win all of which can be spent improving character stats adding some customisation to the system. It’s pretty straightforward but leans toward the tedious when you factor in the sheer amount of characters you have to work with, a grand 58 in total.
You’ll probably end up frustrated placing each pairing around the map and moving through obstacles. If that doesn’t get to you then the fact that EVERY character has to have their say on EVERY little matter that occurs probably will. Even the dialogue and humour can’t save you here! It doesn’t have to though, it does its own job!
Visually the game is impressive and character reactions and expressions are executed flawlessly. Watching a barrage of punches is a little messy but the good kind of messy, the one you don’t care about because it’s worth the hassle of making! I’ve fallen in love with the soundtrack to the game and in particular the menu music for the title has been played on loop.
PXZ 2 really only falls down when you start to take it seriously and I’ve found myself enjoying it most when I grind away for an hour, put it down for a while and only go back when I need a little distraction. It’s a lucky bag of sorts, you can reach in once and find the perfect way to spend an hour or two or find yourself regretting the splurge when you find yourself sitting there wishing you’d saved your money for a bigger toy.
Project X Zone 2 won’t make apologies for all of that though! It’s about doing something fun for fans from across the spectrum of some amazing games! If it’s to be judged on that alone then it’s done the job and then some!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!