Game Review: Fate/Unlimited Codes (PSP)
Platform: PSP Published: Capcom Developed: Cavia Genre: Fighting
Accessible for beginners
Great use of camera for special moves
Robust fighting mechanics that make it satisfying to master
Great cast of characters
Mission Mode is fun and rewarding
Storyline is lacking and makes no sense if you're not familiar with the visual novel
Lack of dubbing into English
Lack of Online multi-player
Some Holy Grail moves are not worth the effort
The magic and holy grail system are a great mechanic to have and change the way the player approaches a fight
Despite being in a 3D space, most of the combat feels 2D however instead of being a bad thing, it makes it more accessible to players
There several fighting games out there that do similar things than in Fate/Unlimited Codes. What they do right with this game is giving the fan of this franchise the experience of a fight in the Holy Grail War. What they do wrong is to alienate those unfamiliar with the franchise. Spending the time and effort on this would have been time well spent.
Published by Capcom and distributed in the U.S. exclusively through the Playstation Network, Fate/Unlimited Codes is a fighting game based on the anime/visual novel of Fate/stay night. The Fate universe consists of a struggle between magi in order to claim the Holy Grail, called the Holy Grail Wars. In this war, seven magi, or masters, battle against each other alongside their servants to determine the rightful owner of the Holy Grail. Servants are heroic spirits from history or myth summoned into one of seven classes, Saber, Archer, Rider, Berserker, Assassin, Lancer, or Caster. The Holy Grail is said to grant the owner any wish they might desire, making it a highly desired item. Fate/Unlimited Codes gives the player the chance to play as any of the servants or most of the masters from the Fate universe.
Fate/Unlimited Codes is a fast paced fighting game rendered in 3D but, other than the ability to sidestep, plays more like a 2D fighter. Because of the flashy moves and the multiple hit combos that can be performed, each player has two bars of life per round. The game has an Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, 2 Player Mode, Spectate Mode, Tutorial Mode, Practice Mode, Mission Mode, and Extras to choose from. The Arcade Mode is your typical arcade mode where the player chooses any character available and fights eight different characters. In Arcade Mode, the storyline of the chosen character is displayed. Because of this, the fourth and last battles are predetermined by the character the player chooses. Survival Mode consists of single round battles against the AI until the player loses a round. After every round the player restores about a full bar of health. Spectate Mode is simply a way to see the AIs fight each other. Tutorial Mode teaches the player the nuances of the game. Practice Mode allows the player to practice all the moves and combos. Mission Mode is more like a tutorial mode for the player to learn combos and sets up interesting scenarios for the player to improve their skills. It also has interesting mini-games like "Let's fight on the Moon" where the player has to press a series of buttons before time runs out.
The game's fighting system is very fast paced and robust. Fate/Unlimited Codes is the kind of game that is easy to pick up but can be hard to master. It empowers the player by allowing them to perform various combos and special moves. The special moves are balanced by the "magic gauge" system and sets the camera for a dramatic look at the move. All special moves require at least one bar out of three to be performed. The player replenishes magic by attacking or taking hits, although this only gives half as much as attacking. The characters are well balanced and have various strengths and weaknesses. The fighting system itself is not very revolutionary but it is very approachable with very good controls which make it fun. The game's Mission mode is one of the greatest features of the game. While the Arcade Mode is good, Mission Mode is very interesting since it lets you learn the combos for the characters and contains fun mini-games.
Some of the problems with this game are the lack of a very strong AI, absent English track, and lack of enough storyline for newcomers to the series. Unless you're playing in the hardest difficulty, the AI is pretty much a snooze. The lack of an English voice track during localization might have been a financial decision by Capcom to save on English voice actors, specially if they try to get the cast from the dubbed anime series, but unless you are a purist fan, the Japanese only voice track might alienate players who might have otherwise picked up the game. The Fate universe is pretty vast and contains many factors that are missed in this game since it doesn't provide any background on the storyline. And even for those who have experience the anime, some characters in the game are exclusive to the visual novel, and is not available in the U.S.
I enjoyed this very solid fighting game but as far as the problems are concerned, they are few but somewhat important. The AI is not very challenging in the first three difficulties, they all felt like different ways of saying "easy mode". The Hard and Ultimate difficulties take a bigger leap from the previous ones. While I realize that this is a very Japanese game and that Capcom might have wanted to keep costs low, such as making it a download only, I think they would have gotten more new comers who might not even care for the storyline if it had an English track. Which leads to my next point, unless the player is a hardcore fan of this series, they will miss a lot of this interesting storyline. The game contains unlockable rewards which come in the form of illustrations and character models. Instead, or alongside this, it would have been great if it provided background information on the characters and of the Fate universe as you play the game for those interested.
In conclusion, this game is a fun game to have while on the go and with its Mission Mode, it will keep the player coming back for more in order to master the game. The problems I have stated are not major, but if they would have been addressed, it might have been the difference between a good fighting game and a great one.