Fighting EX Layer for PS4 went on sale this week on PSN for $7.99, for two weeks. I'd been waiting since December for a sale so I finally took the plunge. Seems well worth the $7.99, that's for sure. Arcade mode is fun (I love that there's no boss--fighting the boss is always the worst part of an Arcade mode ; ), and the Survival-style "Kumite" mode hidden in CPU settings in Training mode is a nice addition. Good music, attractive stages, interesting character designs, and solid action with a few twists.
I even splurged out $5.99 for the not-on-sale color pack DLC: 6 additional colors for every character! : D (It should really tell you that in its store description.) Well, I guess I'm someone who likes color options. : )
0:00 - FEXL on the PS4 XMB 2:20 - menu & options 6:10 - credits 8:04 - Expert Mode 9:54 - Gougi decks 15:43 - Arcade Mode (Medium) w/ Volcano Rosso (V.Rosso) (partial) 34:38 - Arcade Mode (Medium) w/ Jack 1:12:10 - Gougi menu (it's info only) 1:14:50 - DLC (& PSN store DLC rant ;) 1:21:10 - Training mode: Terry Bogard (DLC) 1:24:00 - "Kumite" sub-mode in Training, as Terry 1:34:50 - "Tournament Mode Settings" System Setting 1:37:05 - Online VS. (menus only--PS+ required 'p') 1:38:55 - Training options 1:40:32 - wrap-up 1:45:10 - Trophies 1:47:37 - what's next! 1:49:08 - Tekken 5 unlocking nightmares 'o'
5'20 - The game's sound balance is a bit out of whack: some character voices are piercingly loud, and multi-hitting sound FX like Area's drill super can add up to a noise much louder than the rest; you can lower the Voice and FX sound levels to prevent this--as I am paranoid about doing for my recording sound levels--but it does leave other voices and SFX somewhat muted. (I admit I tend to associate this sort of thing, as well as relatively long load times and a tendency for generic graphics, with Unreal Engine games.)
6'10 - Of course I mangled a fact I tried to pull out of my memory, which is always a bad idea because my memory is a mess: Arika, developer and publisher of Fighting EX Layer, was founded by Akira Nishitani (aka "Nin-Nin" or "Nin" in game credits sometimes) who worked for Capcom--*NOT* SNK, as I was errantly wondering, although I think I threw Capcom in there as a guess as well :P--and famously designed Street Fighter II (see entry 1367) as well as Final Fight (and those with artist Akira Yasuda, aka "Akiman," and the other "Akira" I was thinking of--but Akiman didn't join Arika).
33'48 - Ah, "Hard Attack" is the MP+MK move, a universal overhead (if only they labeled those as such in the move lists...)
1'12"10 - I'm not interested in most of the "Gougi" decks you can deck yourself out with at this point, since to get the most out of most of them you have to play in ways I'm not keen on, like countering or something, or you're potentially in a very high-risk scenario a lot of the time, or you do stuff like turn invisible, which seems like it could be more of a hindrance than a help, especially against the CPU; so I'll probably stick to one or the other of the first two, which seem the most straightforward--although I'm not getting quite the most out of them because for one I don't throw enough to get that throw boost, and for the other I don't "Hard Attack" enough--well, at the time I didn't even know what it was--to get that particular boost or for it to matter.
Perhaps not coincidentally, those two things--a throw on LP+LK and an overhead on MP+MK--are both mechanics swiped from Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (see entry 680). :P
1'34"50 - You can turn the annoying "Matchmaking OFF" text at the bottom middle of the screen off by turning on the "Tournament Mode" game option--although this also turns off the game's internet connection and ability to register trophies. ; )
Playing through Arcade Mode--without losing a single battle, as it turned out = oo--of Fighting EX Layer on PS4, Normal difficulty, with Doctrine Dark, Allen Snider, Pullum Purna, and Sharon:
0:00 - I get the name of the game wrong 'p' 4:08 - D.Dark 36:41 - Allen 1:03:56 - Pullum 1:31:54 - Sharon 1:59:01 - wrap-up, character summary & what's next!
- Oh man I have no idea what's going on with any of their stories.
- I'm getting worried about the AI; on Normal here there were definitely times where it just looked like it didn't have much of a clue--particularly vs D.Dark and his whip cord and bombs. It's good at catching you for nasty damage with slide-in low-to-high mix-up combos and sometimes unloading from those into supers, but aside from that, I dunno. Once I get done with these first play-throughs I'll have to take it up to Hard difficulty, hopefully that makes it a lot smarter but I'm not holding my breath.
These characters are fun!
- Didn't like the looks of D.Dark's design, but actually in operation he's pretty straightforward, although I suppose smart people can make all kinds of combos out of his whip snare thing--but you can just let it zap the victim if you want, so yeah that's all right. And he's just got good hand-to-hand attacks.
- Allen rules! He's made to look like the Dan Hibiki of the game--ie a joke character--and it does seem like maybe they gave him some intentionally low damage or difficult to use moves like a couple of his supers or his back-uppercut-motion dash punch that tacks a really long defenseless pose on the end, BUT they also gave him a sweet fireball AND a super fireball AND just good dive punches and kicks. And with the DLC colors he's got a pink gi! heart heart
- I hated fighting AI Pullum because it felt like she was always hitting me with disgusting cross-up dive kicks, but guess what, it's super-fun to hit the AI with her disgusting cross-up dive kicks. ; D And she blows a big dot neon heart to you at the end of a match! heart heart
- Sharon has yes a western theme and yes she is cool and there's nothing sweeter-sounding than her six-gun unloading its six rounds (per round) in rapid-fire overkill. Plus she's got what seems like several bucketfuls of kick etc combos.
* I was hearing and mispronouncing Blair's last name as "Dane" rather than "Dame," which is what the internet tells me is actually her last name.
** In the past I've mostly seen Skullo Mania's name as "Skullomania"; this game, however, mostly renders it as either "Skullo Mania"--on character select screens, for instance--or "Skullo" (next to his portrait in the battle HUD).
*** I was really confused by most of Area's moves being described as only working "with Cancer equipped"; so confused I just up and googled it in the middle of the recording. Eventually I found "Cancer" is the name (?!) of her beloved arm robot, and the notes about it throughout her move list just mean that while the arm is flying through the ground or air--launched by holding d+3P or 3P)--Area of course can't use any of the moves she normally does with the arm; as soon as it automatically returns and settles back into place on her flesh and blood arm, she can access all her moves again.
**** I forgot that the "Kumite" mode you can set up with the Opponent--CPU Format--Kumite option in the Training mode menu is a "survival"-style mode where you only get a little of your health back after a fight, and I was trying it on Hard difficulty for the first time--and losing, which was new for me : oo (on Hard, the stupid jump-in & sweep spam that works far too well on Normal doesn't work so well)--so I was really confused as to why what I thought was just an endless battle mode was popping up the menu and not randomizing my opponent. But it's basically a Survival-style mode, so it's a reset/game-over when you die. Kind of funny how all the Gougi cards are active the whole time, that takes a little getting used to.
Playing my first concentrated "Kumite" session in the Training mode of Fighting EX Layer on PS4, as Darun:
(There's a jump cut at 6:39 where I cut out a really stupid tangent I started babbling about.)
Akira Nishitani, director of the original Street Fighter II, is the head of Arika, who made this game, and the pedigree is pretty obvious here, with Darun being a clone, at heart, of SF's wrestler Zangief, and a character such as Allen being a more effective version of Dan Hibiki, for instance.
I in fact just played a Zangief session in SFII: The World Warrior the night before, so I can definitely say that playing Darun here in this Survival-style mode of FEXL felt somewhat like playing Zangief in SF2, except that in FEXL movement and attacks feel less well defined, and the AI feels much more generic. Also, FEXL's sound engineering is terrible, with mostly forgettable or bizarre sounds, and volume levels all over the place.
FEXL's AI doesn't feel like it has a cohesive fighting personality for each character, but more like they just run through flow charts of whatever moves they happen to have; when they hit upon the right ones--particularly the low combos, which I always fail to block--they look like geniuses, but when they don't, they look like idiots. They're kind of good at shimmying and meatying when it's your turn to stand up, but when it's their turn to stand up, they can usually just fall for the same command grab (the lunging "GANJIS DDT": uppercut-motion+K)repeatedly, and it's game over.
Once I learned to abuse low chains and command-grab-on-wakeup with Darun, I had to raise the difficulty from Medium to Hard (the highest setting) to keep myself awake; on Hard, the AI is more aggressive, meaner on your wakeup, and a little better at blocking, but their overall offense and defense still feels disorganized and clueless.
Kumite selects random opponents with random Gougi decks for you to fight, but their colors are always the same--based on *your* color selection, maybe?--which feels like a real missed opportunity; I was always facing the same white/pastel-green Skullo, and white/gray Terry, for instance.
Allen's AI felt a little more defined: he definitely fought like a typical "shoto" SF character, relying on lots of uppercuts and fireballs; that strategy was of course originally designed by Nishitani and the old SF2 team to demolish non-shoto characters like Zangief/Darun, and it still does the job here; having my consistently toughest opponent be the Dan Hibiki clone felt pretty weird! And the AI's uppercut use falls into the most annoying SF scheme of just hitting you with them perfectly pretty much all the time.
So, this session, my first hard look at Kumite, definitely pushed me toward thinking I won't be playing FEXL for too much longer--against the spotty AI, there was no compelling reason not to spam low chains and that command grab over and over--except sometimes against Allen and his perfect uppercuts--and it got somewhat tiresome.
Low combos are *way* too dominant in this game, I don't know what they were thinking there; maybe they just didn't realize it? Because I can't imagine that having the AI dive at high speed almost all the way across the screen, hit you in the foot, and turn that into a full combo into super(s) was ever anyone's idea of fighting game fun; it pushes me into doing madcap jumping and sweeps 100% of the time--anything to avoid the perils of standing, where you'll just get hit in the foot and force-fed a max super combo from full screen. I feel like I can't stand and fight, and this too gets old.
Maybe it'll feel different playing a non-grappler--although I can't say I hold out much hope.
On second thought... I went back and watched my play of guys I was holding out hope for, like Terry, Jack, and Skullo, and I was just doing jumps and sweeps with them, too. I could be playing SF2 or CvS or Marvel or something instead. Yeah I don't think I need to play this any more.