STAFF REVIEW of One Piece: Burning Blood (Xbox One)

Saturday, June 11, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

One Piece: Burning Blood Box art Over the years we have seen a lot of anime titles from Bandai Namco Games, and while some have been welcomed, some of them haven't. Their latest release, One Piece: Burning Blood, is an attempt to turn a popular anime show into a playable video game. Going into this review I was unaware of this show's existence. Now, that may seem like blasphemy to some of you, and even ignorance to others, but this fact allowed me to approach this game from a point of view that was purely objective. I know what you're thinking already, basing a video game on a show or movie never seems to hit the mark, but this time things will be different right?

The game itself is laid out in episodic form, so think of yourself trying reading a book by scrambling the chapters up and filling in the blanks. The levels consist of an animated sequence which inevitably leads to another fight where you are tasked with either surviving the fight, winning the fight outright, or other things. Upon successful completion of your fight you're treated to a closing cinematic and an overview of the map where you can select your next point in your chapter to play.

If you're reading this and your idea of an antique gaming machine is a PS3, then you may not have heard of One Piece: Burning Blood either. I was shocked to know that this is a wildly popular anime that started back in 1999 and consists of 12 movies and so much more. So, the content in terms of a plot is plentiful; however, in this game I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I'm sure fans are sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches based on my ignorance of the subject matter, but the convoluted story was difficult at best to understand for the unaware like myself.

Now if you're scratching your head and wondering just what the plot is, the most simplistic answer I can provide is that the story is about a young boy named Luffy who teams up with an individual known as Whitebeard and his band of pirates, and they are tasked with rescuing Luffy's brother Ace who has been kidnapped. Whitebeard is also trying to become the Pirate King and that mantle can only be obtained if, and when, he finds the One Piece which is claimed to grant the finder unlimited riches and fame. That is about as simplistic as it gets, and unfortunately if you're like me you won't have the slightest clue what is actually happening within the story. However, even though the plot may be convoluted to those who are not familiar with One Piece, the gameplay itself is surprisingly simple.

When you begin the game you literally are thrown head first into it and expected to survive. I cannot stress enough the importance of going through the options screen for the control scheme, because you will see just how simplistic this game becomes. There is even an option to make the simple controls even simpler, which can make life so much easier for you in the long run. Your A button is for jump, X button attacks, and you can even use the triggers to tag in a member of your 3-person team. You use your LS and RS to move and you can adjust the camera distance, but honestly, I found that keeping the camera close in helped out more, especially when you're talking about over the top anime moves that seem to level a mountain far off in the distance. Being able to close the gap quickly was a big plus, but it seemed like I would be running an intercept path towards my computer AI opponent only to land a few shots, then repeat the process until either time expired or my opponent did.

I found that the earlier opponents were crushed usually by button mashing the X button, but there always seemed to be an imbalance if you will, where not only did the computer AI seem to instantly, and almost constantly, flash guard my attacks, but when we both would land hits on one another, my attacks were shrugged off while my opponent's attacks were bone crushing.

Blocking was usually done by prayer. I would pray that I would block an attack and wait to see if it was answered or not, but most of the time I ended up flat on my back. In terms of combos, there are some to be had, provided you time your input correctly, have proper placement on the screen in relation to your opponent, etc. So you do get a good amount of content if you're looking for a brawler type fighting game, but if you're expecting some frame sensitive, in-depth fighting game, you're going to be disappointed.

Outside of the main story, called Paramount War, One Piece does pack in some other modes as well. One of the modes I frequented was the Wanted Posters mode. This is where I first found a training mode, but in order to unlock this mode, and all the others in the game, you are forced to play through the Paramount War mode until every game mode is unlocked. So until you sit through enough angry Japanese animated characters yelling at one another, you will not be able to literally do anything else in the game. It sort of force feeds the gamer, but maybe that's just the only way to get people to actually sit through the campaign?

Other modes also include an online fighting mode and a pirate battle, which is like a seasonal quest for power and control of a map. Essentially you choose a side to fight for and spend your time browsing a map trying to find destinations to fight where you can increase your team's reputation and expand your power. One Piece: Bad Blood is far from a one trick pony, but the fact that you are forced to subject yourself to the story until everything is unlocked is kind of a big negative.

In terms of how One Piece looks, it's everything you could expect from an over the top anime based game. What looks like a hybrid cel-shaded game provides incredible detail and beauty when you start talking about the game's 40+ fighters to choose from. You read that right, over 40 fighters to choose from; however, you have to unlock a vast majority of them first. Each one of these characters has an ultimate attack that, when triggered, unleashes a barrage of beautiful colors and vivid imagery in a small cutscene that fills up your entire screen.

One Piece is, without a doubt, a pretty game to look at from time to time, unless you're constantly staring at angry Japanese characters that are always yelling, which does tend to happen quite a bit. With the audio there's nothing that particularly stands out. You know there's going to be some form of upbeat anime techno music track, but apart from the constant yelling in Japanese, there's nothing else that screams quality audio work.

For fans of the popular anime show I'm sure that this title will undoubtedly be a big hit; however, for those who have absolutely no idea what One Piece: Burning Blood is about, they will most likely find it a shallow, confusing, and somewhat lackluster experience. And may I mention that all this wonderful confusion can be yours for the low price of a full retail title! Yes, for $59.99 and change, you too can be confused to all ends about the plot, admire beautiful graphics during the cinematics and fight sequences, and learn how to yell at someone in Japanese, since it appears that 90% of the time that's all the characters do.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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