Black Rock Shooter Review
Graphics - 8
Gameplay - 5
Value - 5
Story - 5
Sound - 6
While it tries to do something special Black Rock Shoot just falls short of doing it on many levels
Black Rock Shooter comes to PSN with guns blazing and a unique blend of JRPG and third person shooter. Is it worth your money?
Originally a PSP game, Black Rock Shooter has been released via PSN for both PSP and Vita and is an offshoot from the anime of the same name. Titular similarities aside they actually exist in separate universes, though both revolve around an amnesiac girl with glowing blue eyes and a gigantic gun who happens to share the name of the title to the game itself. Skinny, big eyes, dressed all in black, and riding a motorcycle: Black Rock Shooter is your typical anime bad ass girl intended to be cold and distant while kicking alien butt. The story itself is about an alien invasion that has whittled the human population down to a sparse twelve members, with BRS being their only real hope to save the day.
While the story had some interesting twists and turns, Black Rock Shooter herself never really evolves and is a mostly flat and uninteresting character. The same can be said for the rest of the twelve survivors, one of them literally being a walking, talking, hip-hop cliché. There were more than a few characters that had me grinding my teeth every time they had something to say. Luckily annoying voices don’t tend to go along with the dialogue as the whole game is voiced in Japanese and the voice acting is serviceable if not very well done.
It’s hard to condemn the game graphically as it’s a 20 dollar PSP game, but I’ve seen some impressive work with games like Final Fantasy Dissidia on the system. The technical restraints aren’t really the problem here so much as a lack of polish that extends throughout the experience. It doesn’t help that all the baddies blend together and tend to be little more than small boxes with legs. What’s worse you’ll be fighting them while navigating lifeless environments splattered with grays blacks and browns. Bosses do stand out in the design sense, but everything outside of them and BRS herself is just bland and uninteresting graphically speaking.
As with any game, gameplay is the true darling here, and at the outset it appears promising. Black Rock Shooter at first seems to be an interesting blend of RPG and third person shooter action. Enemies will dart towards you on the levels and upon contact you’ll launch into battle mode. Here you’ll aim the cursor and fire shots in third person mode, but you’ll be stuck in place. Dodging and blocking are also essential abilities and you’ll have to manage all of these carefully, as every movement will add to a overheat bar. Once it’s full you’ll be unable to do anything as enemies pummel you. At first the idea seems exciting and different, but it quickly grows stale and annoying. I understand that the idea is to time and use your dodges wisely, but punishing players for using defensive moves seems downright antagonistic. On top of that the actual shooting gets bland and all the leveling up you do never really adds to the excitement of battle. By the end of the game I had become absolutely bored with the slog of fighting little blue box after little blue box, with only bosses providing real challenge or substance.
Black Rock Shooter contains about six stages with six missions each, while bonus missions fill out the experience a bit. Mostly these are slogging through the same dreary environments killing a set number or enemies and the main missions usually involve chasing somebody, killing minibosses, or blowing up generators. Even the stages where you get to ride a motorcycle aren’t enough of a break from the same old same old, which makes the entire game repetitive and uninteresting. There is about ten hours here, which is plenty for a downloadable experience and more than most gamers will want to play anyway.
At the end of the day Black Rock Shooter attempts to do something unique, but mostly fails, with brief glimpses of what could have been peeking through. Challenging boss battles and a few twists in the story don’t make up for the vast blandness of the game, and a lackluster protagonist doesn’t help a bit. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the anime or just are dying for a new game to play on PSP or Vita, steer clear of this game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.