Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: FK Digital
Arc System Works is best known for it's timeless Guilty Gear Series in the Arcade and on multitude platforms over the years. They are a staple in the 2D fighting game genre and very rarely disappoint. It was a total shock that they decided to localize and publish a little known fighter called Chaos Code. Gaining a small following in Japanese Arcades, this game was sprung on fans via the PlayStation Network and despite some minor flaws, holds up nice.
First off, players will notice that despite this being an Arc System Works fighter, it resembles another little known fighter for the PlayStation 2 called The Rumble Fish. With characters pulled right from the world of Anime and Manga (complete with impossible to move in clothing), they are all gathered for one purpose, find the power known as the Chaos Code. It's true power is somewhat of a mystery and each of the fighters have their reasons for wanting to find it. Each character has a small back story that loosely explains why they are fighting, but instead of learning each story, you will spend most of your time laughing at the poor translation of the dialog to English. You do get the gist of it, but it seems like all of the text in the story was translated in a hurry.
Not that story matters all that much, but there are 2 endings to see per character. You get ending A (the good ending) by beating all of your opponents and not continuing, and you get ending B (a somewhat less good ending) if you use a continue. You will find it extremely difficult to get through all of the opponents without losing, with strange balance issues plaguing your play through. Some characters will be pushovers, while others will completely destroy you with hardly a blink. The characters are so incredibly unbalanced in some cases it feels like a game created with the PC program M.U.G.E.N. (which I immediately thought of when I first started playing). This is especially true with the game's final boss characters, who basically are broken and continuously throw out difficult to avoid projectiles and seem to be invulnerable to anything you throw at them. They ARE beatable though, but you will be finding yourself stooping to their levels by repeating one or two moves over and over just to get through a round. Balance issues aside, it's still a playable fighter, but sometimes taking down an enemy can feel like a chore.
You get some different modes to play through in Chaos Code, each unlocking either extra characters or artwork. The aforementioned Story Mode, has you following a selected character through their personal battles. Versus Mode allows you to fight against the CPU or another friend. Survival mode lets you see how many opponents you can beat with one energy bar and Practice mode lets you master characters moves and combos. When you first select your character, you can select 2 extra moves to best suit your play style, and select whether your character will dash or run during the fight. There are many different combinations you can go with to create some really awesome combos, so play around with each of the options to find the best one for you. Sadly as of this review, there was no online mode to speak of, but I have been told by some folks at Arc that they are hard at work at getting an online mode added in a future update. Whether or not they can make it work remains to be seen, but they have pulled it off before so I have faith.
Graphics for the most part look great and are very well animated, even in some of the backgrounds. The static artwork used for the Story Mode and the Gallery is nice, but nothing really to get excited over. Other backgrounds, while well made, are not breathtaking and range from your typical street, schoolyard and pool side areas. There are some visuals that resemble an older SNK fighter, but nothing looks all that terribly dated and it all comes together nicely. Sound on the other hand can be rather annoying, with the announcer sounding like he was recorded with the microphone too close, and some of the character's voices can be grating on the nerves. The soundtrack is largely forgettable, with standard fighting tracks that don't really help get you pumped for the fight, and some tracks actually sound out of place. To spite its somewhat dated presentation, Chaos Code can still hold it's own against some of today's other 2D fighters.
With its balance issues and somewhat dated looks and presentation, Chaos Code might strictly be for certain 2D fighting game fans. Those who only dabble in the genre may want to stick with games they know rather than jump into this one as they may find it to be a disappointment. Players of the classic SNK Fighters and even some early Capcom fighters will feel right at home here, while others will be struggling trying to find something to like. It's definitely not for every fan out there, but shouldn't be dismissed completely. Chaos Code may not be the typical gold that Arc System Works is known for, but it fills a need until Arc unleashes Guilty Gear Xrd on the world. A solid, but less than extraordinary fighter.