The last couple of weeks have been eventful for fighting game fans. Street Fighter V started it’s third season and finally added a lot of meaningful content, with Dragon Ball FighterZ blowing fans away, something Dissidia Final Fantasy NT didn’t achieve but is at least stunning to look at. Following all these big releases is Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], a smaller fighting game from the people at French Bread. With a diverse roster, plenty of story and multiple modes, is it enough to beat out other new releases or will most people’s first experience be the upcoming BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle?
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] story just feels like an anime. There is a treat, one most people can’t see, but a select few can. Those who have this gift and don’t lose themselves become what is known as an in-birth, something that makes them important to various organizations that are fighting for their own reasons. The story explains a lot of the backstory, something that explains later interactions.
After completing chronicles, you’re ready to play arcade. This mode plays like your standard arcade, though it has 10 fights instead of seven or eight, with certain fights having additional dialogue or something special to indicate what is going on. At the end there is a special ending picture, you unlock credits for pictures and other things, making it a worthwhile mode.
The main downside is that the AI’s difficulty is kind of weird. After finishing arcade on five, which is the highest difficulty level, the AI managed to be both competent and incompetent at the same time. Simply put, players can exploit the AI a number of different ways, like certain attacks usually catch them off-guard, with their attacks typically leading to a punishing combo. The worst of these was Hilda, a character that could easily put me in a near infinite combo –it was multiple small ones done in such a way where if you don’t know the exact way to counter you’ll end up losing-, yet only did so in weird intervals. This means, unless you’re really good or have a tactic that works against it, the AI is bad at dealing with Waldstein, it’s a brutal mode that will do nothing but frustrate fans, with the lower modes hitting a point where the AI has zero fight, leaving the middle in a bad place.
Thankfully, if you want to learn how to play Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], there are a couple modes to do it. These modes include training, tutorial and mission, all of which are fairly standard modes. Training is all about practicing combos, learning how to deal with certain things and practicing without having to worry about winning. If you’re not at that point, the tutorial will explain the basic game mechanics. With a total of 179 total lessons, there is more than enough content to teach anyone how to play, assuming they’re interested in learning. To further this, missions focus on teaching player’s specific combos and/or introducing certain moves that can be built into future combos. These are a must for anyone interested in learning to play better but not important if you just want to have fun. Especially since most characters have a couple of easy combos that you can use to beat the AI, even at max difficulty.
In the event you don’t want to play against players online, there are three more offline modes besides story and arcade. Score and time attack are built are facing various enemies and rating your performance. It’s a good way to see how you’re improving and gauge where your shortcomings lie or just give you something to constantly work towards improving. Survival works in a similar way, just, instead of having a finite goal, the one here is to last longer than before.
As wonderful the score and content is, it isn’t an impressive looking game. With a very bland and dated menu, it’s likely using more than a little of the previous PlayStation 3 releases. For instance, even the menu icons, which are just text, are clearly low resolution and easy to see pixilation. The characters themselves look fine, not amazing sprites like we’ve seen in the past, but not noticeably bad either. This makes some of the flashier moves and characters better to look at, even if all the other things bring it down. So, if graphics is important, this probably isn’t the best for you.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] might not be the best, but it’s certainly not the worst either. The 20-character roster is diverse, filled with exciting moves, thrilling attacks and both easy and hard combos. From there, the story might not be pushing boundaries, though it’s going to be more than enough for anyone looking for an explanation of what is going on. Combine this with multiple training and offline modes, plus the ability to play online and you have plenty to do. Sure, the graphics are underwhelming and there can be a lot to learn but it’s a solid experience, one that is sure to bring something to the table for online and offline players alike.