Technically backward, meaningless in terms of content, but as a grinder for absolutely solid co-op anime JRPG shooter in between.

Japan is sometimes unique, sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes unique. Where else could a game come from with a weapon called “Sturm KZ”? It is nothing new that the Japanese are often into German words, but it is surprising that the US or European offices of Bandai Namco did not say that this name could be a bit wrong for one of the many weapons. In a game that otherwise comes across as uncontroversial to the point of insignificance, flat anime dialogues are celebrated in a loop and nothing would attract attention other than the storm concentration camp. A snub-nosed SMG swung by a cute anime character.

Otherwise and for everyone who doesn’t know what Sword Art Online is: 20 trash novels in Japan, a matching Anime and Mange series, two related films and no fewer than 10 games distributed on cell phones, handhelds and consoles. Sounds like a little overkill in terms of educational background for the latest part, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet. But no. You don’t really have to know anything to play this and understand it throughout. The little that I once knew, I have forgotten again anyway in view of the insignificance of previous titles and it didn’t seem necessary here to have more fun in the end. than I expected. But not so much that I would now call Fatal Bullet the breakthrough.

Graphically, the solo co-op pseudo-MMO stopped a while ago and offers one of the most lifeless worlds currently.

Even if the title says Online, it’s not an MMO, but part of the premise of this action JRPG grinder. The game world is a fictional MMO called Sword Art Online and in which the avatars of the players from the real world cavort. The usual questions about “what is reality” and the like are touched on briefly, but don’t worry. Whenever the row had deep questions, she’s long since pushed them aside. As a new player you will find a new “rare item”, as you would expect in a real MMO, and it is an AI. This behaves quite humanly and is hot? coveted and somehow a novelty within the game world. Little by little you learn more and little by little I began to push away the speech bubbles of the visual novel inserts faster, on the one hand,

Basically, it’s a kind of third-person super-grinder of mass destruction. The big hub city is followed by a few times more, sometimes less insignificant landscapes, which you can visit thanks to an extremely practical fast travel system. This system is really fantastic, because you can jump directly to any fast travel point you have already visited at will and almost at any time. Even from the dungeon back to the shop and back to the dungeon is possible without stopping, which is very much in keeping with the flow of the game.

The dungeons in particular are very generic.

The fight itself also offers a melee category with the swords, but with eight or nine ranged weapons, the shooter dominates dramatically. Exotics are missing beyond the “strange” names – whereby Sturm KZ is already the biggest outlier here -, for a fantasy sci-fi world the arsenal is almost exactly reminiscent of a US arms fair: Von Everything from the pistol to the rocket launcher is included, but the laser cannon is still being waited for. There are optical weapons, but this only means an alternative form of ammunition, not a separate weapon category. A little too banal everything.

In the areas you always run into enemy mobs and the game doesn’t hold back with the numbers: If you’re looking for it, you could face 15 to 20 enemies on the ground and in the air, the all endure quite well. Keep moving quickly, don’t forget to use the multitude of special skills for buffs and attacks and just keep on top of it. These are the moments that the game lives for and when it can shine. For a J-Shooter, the hit feedback is okay, even if it is far from brutal enough, the reload button often reacts too hesitantly, so that your own figure runs around without firing, although the trigger is depressed and in tight spaces ums in dungeons, for example, the camera can snap out. But all of this is not the big drama in the end, you get used to it and then it slaughtered as funny as it was inconsequential. Sometimes there is nothing better than a Saturday afternoon of mindless grinding, and if Fatal Bullet wins championship anywhere, it is here. Well, not every game has such a solid raison d’être.

The enemy AI can often be used well: I wouldn’t really have a chance against the ‘Mech, but it can’t go where I’m at. In such moments, sheer patience is required.

But if you go a little deeper, then there is not only an unbelievable amount of possibilities how to improve the armament and optimize it for the last hit point, including dozens of modifiers of all kinds. Not just tons of outfits that are more about taste and style than real values ​​- bikinis and swimming trunks included, it’s Japan. A whole host of other details that you use here and there to disable your ability to eliminate hundreds of double virtual enemies. After a while, it’s the AI ​​- the real AI of Sword Art Online, not the story – that catches the eye, and not in the best way.

You can play the game completely in co-op and that works quite well even with random acquaintances after you have agreed what you actually want to do. It’s nicer with friends, of course, but you won’t be alone without either. If you do, chance will grace you whether the computer feels like doing what it should and if it does, that it has mastered even the most banal basic rules of an MMO. Even though the command set was all about support, healing, and resuscitation – all three members of the party on the floor heading back to Hubstadt – there was no way I could count on being healed.

The Sturm KZ wins the special prize for the most unfortunate named weapon …

When I was on the ground, the AI ​​would usually sprint to it as it should, but not without hooking a dozen or so hooks in order to throw itself into an out-of-the-way fight somewhere. While the boss was doing his teabagging dance over my corpse in a final battle, the AI ​​was unable to wait for him to get some distance, but clipped straight into him, only a second later to fall over. If you rely on the AI, you are left. Better get human accompaniment when you go into a more difficult fight. Or grind until it’s no longer difficult.

Otherwise, the game is technically not a milestone and, to be honest, not noticeably nicer than its predecessor. The areas are relatively large And the visibility is high too, but everything often seems empty, lifeless and, above all, loveless. The series could not yet shed the charm of an early PS3 title and especially the extremely unadorned, always similar dungeons are optical bores of the highest quality. You can let the cell shading of the figures and the effects go through, but otherwise everything is at the lower end of the PS4, a fact that is probably due to the Vita version.

Here is your own AI in top form: on top me, flat. Bottom left, first AI companion, flat. Top left: Boss unable to hit AI companion number three on the right. Unfortunately, she’s frozen in a routine of waving, running in place and doing nothing. Play it with friends if you can, it will be a far better game.

Watch Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet on

Nice, if quite arbitrary story, solid mechanics behind the quite amusing grind and a technique, both on the screen and in the routines behind it, that only seems to come from this generation to a limited extent. If anyone expected Fatal Bullet to be the big breakout for Sword Art Online, the package is disappointing. And yet, I’d be lying if I said I’m not having fun had. Optimizing your own team every couple of laps, distributing new weapons, checking whether you can screw something up before returning to the endless run for more experience points, it will pass the time in a very entertaining way. This may not be a fiery speech for the game, but see it as a nod in his direction and that you are having a lot more fun here. finds than, for example, in the far deserted Seven Sins recently. If I really needed my anime kick … I’d buy Dragon Ball: Fighter Z first, wait for Ni No Kuni 2, and then think of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet.

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