One Piece is without a doubt of the most popular manga/anime out there. Having debuted back in 1997, One Piece became not only one of the longest running manga, but also the best-selling manga series to date. Similar to other big mangas/animes, such as Naruto and Bleach, One Piece has spawned quite a few video games over the years, with One Piece: Burning Blood being the latest video game focused on Luffy and his friends.
Burning Blood follows the Marineford arc, in which we see Luffy, Whitebeard and other pirates fight against the Marine in order to save Ace. Having fought and lost against Blackbeard, Ace was delivered to the Marine, with the group declaring that Ace was to be executed. While the arc itself is simple and easy to follow, I feel like a small introduction to the overall story could have been implemented, as newcomers will feel completely lost about who all these characters are and their motivations.
The campaign offers four different story modes that give players the opportunity to experience the war between pirates and marines from the perspectives of Luffy, Whitebeard, Ace and Akainu. However, these story segments all come down to short cutscenes, fighting an enemy, more cutscenes and repeat. This means that aside from one or two crucial moments during this arc, the game fails to capture the greatness and depth of the original storyline from the manga/anime. Enjoying the campaign mode is made even worse with extreme changes in difficulty, as you often manage to easily defeat an opponent only to be completely crushed by the next one.
Gameplay-wise, One Piece: Burning Blood steps away from the "Dynasty Warriors formula" of previous games to deliver a one-on-one fighting game. You aren't restricted to one character during battle, as you can form a team consisting of up to three characters. With each character having its own health bar, you can change characters in the middle of the battle at any time.
The game also has its own share of gameplay elements to add a bit more variety and depth to the gameplay. In addition to the normal attacks that you can perform with the Square and Triangle buttons, each character has its own ranged attacks, guard breaking moves and Special attacks. The characters in your team can also assist you in performing tag moves such as Unity Assists and Unity Chains. While in Unity Assist the selected character attacks your enemy while you are being attacked, Unity Chain allows the selected character to deliver a powerful blow on the enemy after you performed your combo attack. In addition, there are also support characters, which assist you by recovering your health, temporarily increase your stats, among other benefits.
As for the characters, Burning Blood offers a decent amount of playable characters, featuring a roster of over 40 characters. While it offers a lot of options to players, I found that some characters like Marco and Akainu feel way too overpowered, something that kind of breaks the balance of the overall combat system. On the bright side, it was interesting to see some of the interactions between characters, something that would happen even mid-battle. For example, Sanji's personality changes when fighting against women, which makes his attacks weaker. There's also some neat interactions and dialog between specific characters before the battle even starts.
In addition to the campaign, you can also battle in free battle, tackle on other players in online battle, and complete Wanted Posters. These posters task you with taking down opponents in order to earn in-game currency which you can use to unlock playable characters, support characters and costumes. Although these for the most part just ask you to emerge victorious, some posters require you to perform certain actions or use certain characters in order for the victory to be valid, adding a bit of challenge and depth to the mix. There's also Pirate Flag Battle mode where you join an online pirate crew and play against other teams to capture their bases.
In terms of presentation, you can tell that Spike Chunsoft put a lot of effort on the game's visuals, as they are quite impressive and manage to capture the look and feel of the anime quite well. The in-game cutscenes look stunning as well, which added to a superb voice acting, make the game look even better.
In the end, One Piece: Burning Blood offers a classic fighting game with some interesting ideas and mechanics. However, the extreme changes in difficulty and some overpowered characters bring all these down to the floor. This added to a campaign that lacks an introduction to newcomers, make this a game that it's best left only for One Piece fans.
|Engaging battle system.|
|Impressive anime visuals.|
|40+ character roster.|
|Unbalanced difficulty level.|
|Overwhelming for newcomers.|