Chaos Code is a game from Taiwanese developer FK Digital that released in Japanese arcade boxes in 2011. It's now arriving on the PS3 courtesy of Arc Systems Works, the company responsible for putting out the Guilty Gear franchise, and it comes at a modest price compared to other fighting game releases. The question is, will it stand out enough for North American audiences to pay attention to, or will it be lost in favour of the mainstay franchises?
Like most fighting games, Chaos Code attaches a story and it deals with a new energy source that was harvested called Chaotics. Scientists have dubbed it the main energy source of all mankind; one that eliminates energy shortage problems, and one that advanced The Chaos code, a written document made by the scientist who developed Chaotics, and we are now participating what seems to be a competition to see who gets to use that document to dominate the Chaotics energy.
It's basically the same driving force behind Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, or other fighting games. They could have just not bothered with a story at all, but it's nice that they at least tried to establish some personality with the game. Unfortunately when you first start the game and try the Story mode, you're forced with one character out of the game's entire roster, having you unlock the rest as you go along. It would have been nice to have another character for tinkering with different play styles, but it's understandable that they wanted to just explain the basic mechanics.
Before getting onto the gameplay mechanics, there is a rather odd quirk that needs to be addressed. Entering into the main menu for the first time, you will quickly realize that the game does not properly support arcade sticks. This seems like a very strange omission, especially since it's based on an arcade game. When playing a match, it works perfectly, but you cannot use the joystick to navigate the menus - you must be using your DualShock 3 controller. The DualShock's analog stick doesn't even work, leaving you with the d-pad. That is the only method of navigating the menus, and it would be counter-intuitive to constantly switch between the arcade stick and controller.
To be fair, this isn't as troublesome as playing something like Street Fighter would be on a controller, as Chaos Code is a 4 button fighter, as opposed to being a 6 button fighter like Street Fighter. It's easier to use since all inputs are done on the face buttons. It's a typical weak punch, weak kick, strong punch, strong kick system, but the most interesting thing about it is that upon character selection, players can customize up to two special moves out of the four possibilities per character. These go along with the character's built in attacks, and it offers a way to truly discover a playing style that would best suit you. Combos are fairly simple and easy to pull off. It plays very much like King of Fighters XIII.
Apart from the standard life gauge, there is also a stun gauge that increases whenever you get hit. A full bar will render you stunned and unconscious, so it's essentially a punishment for not blocking. You also gain meter for your Chaos gauge which allows you to unleash EX Special Moves and Ultimate Chaos moves, similar to any other meter building game.
The game boasts a 14 character roster, and all have a unique feel and play style to them. Some are very melee and hand to hand based, others have weapons at their disposal, and one slot has two characters as a dynamic duo. Characters all look different from one another and have a range of names spanning from plain names like Catherine and Bravo, and moving to the more bizarre names like Cthylla and Kudlak-Sin.
Unfortunately, the game does not come with any form of online component which is a real shame. The developers did promise the release of an online mode in a future patch, but it may well be too little too late. With virtually no community at the moment, you're left with either single player or local multiplayer. If you want players to even consider sticking with a game, you have to incorporate an online mode, especially for this type of genre where franchises thrive off of competitive and friendly online matches. This may hurt the chances of it picking up here, when there are a plethora of titles that either have similar play styles, or have a functioning online, or both in some cases.
Over on the visual end, we have hand drawn 2D sprites, much like BlazBlue, King of Fighters and Guilty Gear. Unlike those games, the actual quality of the art just doesn't seem as crisp. The menus are all 16:9 but the actual gameplay's native resolution looks like it is 4:3. This isn't going to wow many people of the fighting game community, especially when we're used to most 2D fighting games like BlazBlue having artwork that's natively in high definition. They were probably conscious of preserving the native state of the game since it was originally on arcade boxes, but it's hard not to compare to similar 2D fighting games that just look far more polished. Thankfully it runs beautifully with no instances of any kind of slowdown or frame rate dips.
Despite the flaws Chaos Code is still a decent game. It hasn't raised the bar in the fighting genre, but it was a fun deviation. Unfortunately, that's all it feels like it will be "“ a deviation. There are far too many fighting games available now that have a full functioning online right off the bat, have proper fight stick support, and when stacked against other 2D fighting games, it falls short visually. At its core, Chaos Code has the potential to be something; it's fast paced, and diversity in grappling, dashing, projectiles, air combos and melee all make for a good battle system. It's just a shame that even after 2 years, it's still a work in progress of what it may be later on.
|Interesting combat system|
|No online support currently|
|Restricted to the d-pad to navigate menus|
|Visuals donâ€™t exactly stand out compared to other 2D fighters|