Sword Art Online, for those that are unaware, originally started off its life as a light novel which then went on to be adapted into manga form several years later. Shortly after the release of the first manga (as is usual the case) an anime series was released.
Set in a world where an extreme video game developer develops one of the greatest video games in history – Sword Art Online. However, during the launch of the game, the creator traps every gamer inside the game, through the power of their virtual reality headsets. If you die in the game, you die for real.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, published by Bandai-Namco and developed by Japanese developer Dimps – who’s notable games include Dragon Ball Xenoverse and a plethora of Sonic titles; takes the series a step further and introduces us to the world of Gun Gale Online (or GGO for short) for the first time in a Sword Art Online video game and also the first video game of the series on Xbox One.
Unlike other Sword Art Online titles, this does not focus on the main protagonist Kirito, instead focusing on a new player to the world that you can customise – along with your partner that you, as the player, discover early on in the game.
Gameplay in Fatal Bullet consists mainly around ‘shooting and looting’, whilst it can be very entertaining, especially late on in the game, it does get repetitive but the added weak spots of enemies urge you to change up your tactics. In dungeons, you’ll enter a room and discover some enemies. Attack them, finding their weak spots and rushing and dodging your way around the area, even using a grapple to help you reach high places. Once you’ve cleared an area, you are free to continue searching for chests and to continue your way through a dungeon; rinse and repeat. XP is earned by eliminating enemies. The more enemies you kill without taking damage, the greater your score and the greater the XP.
Fatal Bullet has a hub where you are free from enemies and can roam around freely, interacting with characters and picking up quests. There’s plenty of shops that offer a variety of goods such as upgrades, new weapons and buffs. Whilst the currency system feels like you’re earning a lot in such a short space of time, you’ll soon realise that all the items are expensive – or at least they seem that way due to the way the currency is. You might earn 10,000 in a mission but for something as simple as a HP potion, it may cost you that full 10,000. They could’ve included a simpler form of currency instead of adding a multitude of ‘zeroes’.
Fast travel is done well here, allowing you to pick up a quest and travel directly to the location of a request without traipsing through grindy areas over and over again however, you’ll soon realise that if you want to succeed in Fatal Bullet, you’re going to have to traipse through those grindy areas in order to level yourself up as enemies to scale with you. The real issue with the fast travel system is the loading times, even on an Xbox One X. They’re not ridiculously long but they’ll feel that way especially if you’re taking advantage of the fast travel system often.
Whilst there is a variety of scenery to embark upon in the open world, there isn’t much difference in aesthetics when it comes down to the dungeon. Everything from the enemies to the layout just seems monotonous, without any real effort in changing what dungeons look like – even though they’re supposed to be completely different locations.
For fans of the anime, you’ll recognise quite a few of the characters who somehow have entered the world of Gun Gale Online, but for those who have never seen the anime or played a Sword Art Online title before won’t be missing out on any canon, as it’s a separate story entirely. With that being said, the narrative is slow and there isn’t an English dubbed option so you’re forced to read subtitles throughout.
Overall, Sword Art Online offers up something slightly different for fans and for Xbox One, but if you’re looking for something to beast through this isn’t it, as you’ll need to grind to progress through the story. It’s great that we’re seeing more Eastern titles make it onto Xbox, I just don’t think it’s the right kind of game, considering there’s plenty of other RPG’s out there that can grab your attention more than this.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is available to purchase from retailers and can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £49.99.
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