Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on PC and Microsoft Xbox One
As you run towards an opponent with a sniper rifle dodging out of the way of the targeting lines to hack them up with a sword it dawns on you, this is a lot of fun. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, is a very deep very big game. Thankfully it fun to play and while obtuse in some of it's systems makes sense once you get used to everything that gets thrown at you.
The beginning of the game has your custom made avatar jumping in with a childhood friend to Gun Gale Online, a VRMMO within the video game you are actually playing that plays like an MMO but isn't one in the real world. Pretty shortly after starting the game you find a super rare item and also get to meet the cast of the anime. Although there is a long story to play through there is a the opportunity to play co op and also to do some PvP.
There are a lot of systems in this game but the aside from your stats, which thankfully can be redone, your weapon choice will define your play style and the skills that are available to you. Most of the weapons are guns with the exception being the photon swords which allow you to pull off some cool close range attacks including multi hit combos and a pretty efficient dash attack. The guns all have different stat requirements which fit the build of the weapon for the most part. If you want to wield a heavy gatling gun or sniper rifle then you are going to want a fair amount of strength. This all makes sense and the ability to re spec takes away a lot of the stress that this kind of system could inflict.
The gameplay itself is has a lot of interesting features which makes it stand out from a lot of other action games. For starters you have the aim assist, which can be turned on and off at the push of a button. This allows you to strafe and not worry too much about the specifics of where you are shooting in the event there are no weak points to be had. If there is a nice critical hit spot you can turn it off and be more pinpoint in your aiming. It is a cool system which allows you to worry more about not getting hit than hitting the enemies. This is pretty much essential throughout the game because the enemies can definitely all kill you if you stop moving for too long.
The enemies bullet paths are indicated by red lasers which allows you the chance to dodge roll or dash out of the way of them. This mimics the anime very well and is a really interesting system to have in an action game. These are especially useful if you do decide to bring a photon sword to a gatling gun fight because you will need to move around a lot.
As you progress you get to run through new areas each with a few dungeons in them. The areas themselves are fairly big open areas which you can run around and grind the hell out of to get lots of money and to level up when you leave the area. The dungeons are more closed in, you progress through various rooms and eventually hit a boss who you have to run around and not get hit by. The boss fights can be a little dull as it tends to come down to how well you can run around and keep shooting. There are some exceptions to this but there is definitely a bullet sponge feel to them. Thankfully most of the enemies don't feel like this which keeps the pace of the fights pretty high.
Graphically it fits the look of the anime pretty well and while the areas get more interesting as you go they can feel a little empty sometimes. Although to be fair this can be by design rather than just due to the brown feel to some of the areas. The enemies are all of one type or another and look as similar as you would expect in an MMO with the occasional unique mini boss here and there who will net you extra special drops upon defeating them.
The sound has a very strong Phantasy Star Online vibe and it really fits the feel of the game. There are some really good bits of music as you progress through with even the title screen having a really cool rock hook to it. The sounds are your biggest indicator of being hit and is something you should pay attention to because sometimes your health disintegrates without you realising.
Overall Fatal Bullet is a fun time sink which sometimes feels like a cross between Phantasy Star Online and Dynasty Warriors with you mowing down countless enemies only stopping to reload. The gameplay is fun and the ability to deep dive into the systems will be loved by a lot of players. The biggest drawback is the fact that it isn't co op throughout, if they made this into a legitimate MMO it would probably do really well so hopefully at some point the developers consider doing so. Nevertheless it is an entertaining and engaging game full of nods to the series which fans will love.