Reviewed: September 13, 2009
Released: September 3, 2009
Capcom is easily known for one of the greatest fighting games of all time, Street Fighter II. What you may not have heard is that they have a little known fighter that America hasnít seen until now. Fate/Unlimited Codes is a title that first got its start on the PS2 in Japan as a fighter revolving around the anime Fate/Stay Night. Thanks to the PlayStation Network Store and the people at Capcom, North American gamers can finally get their hands on Fate/Unlimited Codes for their PSP.
The story of this weapons based fighter is about a conflict known as the Holy Grail War. Seven Master (or Magi) and seven Servants (or Heroic Spirits) wage war against each other in the quest to reveal the ultimate keeper of the Holy Grail. The legendary chalice has the ability to grant the wishes of its Guardians. Personally I had never heard of the anime on which this title is based, but I must admit the idea is intriguing. In fact I actually looked up some of the episodes to get a feel for it. The interesting part is that a couple of the characters are based upon figures in history most notably in Greek as well as Irish mythology. You learn a little about the different characters past while you complete their stories. I felt like I got a little glimpse of what the show is about from just what I played but it is a bit confusing having not seen the source.
There are numerous modes for you to plan in Fate/Unlimited Codes, such as Practice, the unlockable Survival, and VS modes, but the two main ones are the Mission and Arcade Modes. There is a difficulty setting that you can change via the menus for those seeking a tougher challenge across the board. The mission mode has you performing certain tasks with the character of your choice. Some of the events are as basic as defeating a particular opponent with in the time limit to pulling off complex chain combos to ending you life at the same time as the enemies. Some of these missions can be a pain but thanks to the mechanics system I picked up on things really quickly. As Iíve noted in previous fighter reviews, I far from an expert at the combos. I found Fate/Unlimited Codesí controls to be very tight and sometimes even easy to pull of some of the harder attacks.
The basic framework for all your attacks hinge around the light, medium and heavy attacks. One of the easiest things to learn is the ďSlash RaveĒ attack, which is basically hitting the attack buttons from light to heavy in that order. Other attacks use the traditional directional arrows along with one or more of the main attack buttons. As you perfect your fighting craft you will come across some of the more advanced moves, like Jump Cancels, Advancing Guards and even the Holy Grail Burst Super Move. That last one sounds sweet doesnít it?
The on-screen interface is pretty much the same fair you usually find in most fighters. The Health bars and timer are the top of the screen while your Magic gauge is located at the bottom of the screen. The Magic gauge is divided into three parts. The more magic you have the more you can perform special attack or moves as well as releasing your ultimate attack on your foe. I particularly like Archerís final attack as well as Sakuraís creepy attack and any thing that Saber does.
The big thing that surprises me is just how well Fate/Unlimited Codes plays on the PSP. Iíve played countless fighters on consoles and even two on the DS that were really good but Fate/Unlimited Codes is the easiest one to just pick up and play. You can use either the analog stick or the D-Pad to fight which is really nice. It doesnít matter if you are terrible and resort to button mashing. After I learned what the combos were thanks in part to the load screens and move list I was having a blast.
My first impression of Fate/Unlimited Codes is that of 3D characters in a 2D world, but that quickly changed once I actually started fighting. Itís not quite up to par as say Soul Caliber, but it offers nicely detailed character animations and gorgeous attack animations. The character models themselves look really good for the PSP. The little details in their outfits, when you actually have time to really look at them move and flow with the bodies. This is particularly true with characters like Saber and Luviagelita, who both wear long shirts. The detail that went into their creation and movements is admirable. The characters even show pain as they take damage briefly via facial expressions. Not that you have much time to actually pay attention to them.
Fate/Unlimited Codes doesnít have animated cut scenes, but what it does have is exquisitely drawn still images, most of which can be viewed via the Extras menu. For those that crave additional features Fate/Unlimited Codes has an option to view each of the characters in their various outfits again via the Extras menu.
Fate/Unlimited Codesí sound department is actually a tough area to judge unlike most of the titles that I review as it is entirely in Japanese. There are English subtitles during the important cut scenes which let you know what their saying which is nice. All I can say is that the voice acting sound good, and I canít. The sound effects are actually one of my favorite parts of Fate/Unlimited Codes especially when it comes to battles with swords. The first time I faced Assassin playing as Saber, he kept blocking my attacks I really was amazed how well it sounded. The music in Fate/Unlimited Codes varies for soothing melodies to upbeat battle sequences, all of which are really good.
As previously mentioned, Fate/Unlimited Codes comes with a lot of modes to entertain you with, and it should considering the $29.99 price tag of this PSP exclusive download only title. Fate/Unlimited Codes does feature local multiplayer via Ad-Hoc, which is actually pretty stable with minor glitches if you happen across someone else who actually has the game.
Besides the Mission and Arcade I really had fun doing the Survival mode once I unlocked it. Survival mode puts you but against all of the unlocked characters and upon completing it the first time you gain access to the Survival Unlimited option. There is also some videos and artwork that can be viewed via the Extras menu upon completing each characters story arcs as well as meeting certain requirements. You can also pit two CPU players up against each other and watch them duke it out just for kicks if you want.
Fate/Unlimited Codes is a title that I think will appeal to any Capcom fan due to its controls and options. Though the fact that it is pretty much a practically unheard of title based upon an even more unheard of source it may hurt its arrival on North America soil so to speak. I really enjoyed this title a lot. Iíve got a chance to play the new SoulCalibur for PSP as well and quite frankly I would gladly pay the $30 dollar price tag of this download title over a $40 store copy of SoulCalibur. Maybe itís the anime fan in me but I just enjoyed everything about Fate/Unlimited Codes a lot more. I highly recommend Fate/Unlimited Codes to any fan of the show as well as any fan of Capcomís works.