Bleach: Soul Resurreccion Feels a Little Hollow

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.

Back when there were only about 90 episodes or so, my esteemed friend, colleague and fellow writer, Erik introduced me to the fantastical world of Bleach.  I immediately got sucked into watching episode after episode, fascinated by the characters and storyline.  I became a huge fan of the series, a trait that was passed on to my daughter, who frequently keeps me apprised of the goings on in the world of Bleach when I don’t have time to catch up.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the anime show, Bleach revolves around Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student with an uncanny ability of seeing and speaking to spirits.  One night, a Soul Reaper saves Ichigo from an evil spirit known as a Hollow, sacrificing herself in the process.  Subsequently, the Soul Reaper’s power is transferred to Ichigo and he in turn becomes a new Soul Reaper.

Fast forward 189 episodes and Aizen, a former Soul Reaper captain, has kidnapped Ichigo’s friend and comrade Orihime.  Ichigo,Uryu,Chad, and company must launch an assault on Aizen’s stronghold of Las Noches to rescue her, not to mention having to fight through Aizen’s army of Arrancar.

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion (titled Bleach: Soul Ignition inJapan) is a third person hack and slash game broken into a number of levels that reflect key battle locations from the TV series.  Luckily for you, the crew atNIShas included a code that allows you to download episodes 190-192 to get an idea what’s going on in the story – something the video game simply doesn’t do.

Right off the bat, my biggest complaint is the lack of cutscenes between levels.  Instead of getting a good few minutes of action, you get a few paragraphs of narrated story to move things along.  For example, after beating one of the earlier bosses, you’re greeted with a story about how Ichigo was suddenly attacked by another enemy and he finds himself in mortal peril.

Wait.  What!?  Where’s the mortal peril!?  I want to see!

Now understandably, they condense 20 minutes’ worth of dialogue, angry looks, and people charging up their powers into about three paragraphs, but you have a fantastic intellectual property in Bleach and you should leverage it at every possible moment.  Plus there is nothing better in Bleach than seeing Ichigo getting hacked up and finding himself in mortal peril!

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion has three different gameplay modes: Story,Mission, and Soul Attack.  Story mode consists of 14 episodes or levels to play through.  The levels are not really explorable, keeping you going in a singular direction while fighting waves of enemies as you advance.  At certain points, you will find yourself locked in an area by a barrier (much like Devil May Cry) that will only unlock after you have defeated all of the enemies in that given section.  At the end of each episode, there is a level boss that you need to beat in order to advance.Missionmode takes you through 28 levels with different objectives.  Some require you to defeat X amount of enemies, while others have you taking on different level bosses (some of which are your own comrades).  With each completed level, more will be unlocked for you.  Finally, Soul Attack mode has time based missions, much in the same vein as theMissionmode, where you must complete given objectives within a specific time limit.

By playing through the different modes, you accumulate Soul Points which are used to level up your characters’ attributes.  You can increase a given character’s attack ability, defense, vitality, or even learn other characters’ abilities.  This will help you in later challenges in theMissionand Soul Attack modes as they get progressively harder.

Like Devil May Cry, this hack and slash game gives you a variety of standard moves, special attacks and super moves, as well as combos to use against waves of enemies.  Special attacks use Spirit Pressure which is indicated by a gauge at the top of the screen.  This gauge will replenish itself over time if depleted, or it can be refilled by collecting Spirit Pressure orbs from fallen enemies.  Likewise, super moves are fed from an Ignition gauge.  This gauge is filled by killing enemies or collecting Ignition orbs.  Once filled, you can power up your characters to either make their attacks stronger for a short period of time, or you can use it all at once to initiate a super attack to deal a massive damage to a single enemy or an entire group.  In many cases, the characters themselves will change visually as well.  Ichigo, for example, will don his Hollow Mask, while his Soul Reaper companions will typically take on their Bankai (physical manifestations of their Soul Reaper swords) appearance.

Balance seems to be one of the things that are lopsided in Soul Resurreccion.  For example, Uryu’s attacks are slower paced to seemingly account for the fact that they are ranged, which makes sense; however, for Kenpachi Zaraki, a melee character, his attacks will cut through a swath of enemies in a single effortless blow, while attacking at the same pace as Ichigo whose standard melee attacks take two or three hits to cut an enemy down.

The gameplay seems to have its own fair share of problems.  Targeting enemies seems to have a mind of its own, every so often.  While it works fairly well for the most part, occasionally it seems to randomly select a target that’s far off instead of a closer enemy or one that is right in front of you.  Furthermore, the enemy AI seems to have a one track mind as the monsters you fight do little more than run at you head on.  There are instances where the enemies will back away from you for little to no reason, and I can’t help but wonder if this is because the AI is programmed to indicate that an enemy is fearful of you or if it just got stuck in a rut and went backwards for the heck of it.

Graphically, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is absolutely stunning.  Cel-shaded graphics keep the characters and environments true to the anime.  Powerful blasts of energy blaze across the screen, throwing you or (more favorably) your enemies to the opposite side of the map, shattering columns as you careen into them.  The environment is filled with plenty of destructible objects such as pillars, fuel tanks, lamps, street signs and more.  Destruction can reward you with power ups or Soul Points and motivate you not to just kill enemies, but to break stuff as well.

During the moments where there is dialogue, the voice acting is well done and performed by many of the original voice actors from the series.  However, that’s becauseNISAmericasimply cut the lines from the anime and repurposed them for the game.  Nothing new has been added.

While we can all understand that the game is following the story arc of the series, it feels little more than a hollow (see what I did there?) representation of a great series. NISwould have been better off taking the license they were given for Bleach and creating a non-canon story for us to enjoy.  Considering that the makers of the anime regularly throw thirty filler episodes into the series that are considered by most fans to be non-canon (but still enjoyable), having a standalone adventure would have been more acceptable than a game that doesn’t feel as complete or have the depth that the show has.

While the game is enjoyable, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is marred by its less than stellar AI, targeting issues, balance, and most importantly, lack of solid storytelling.  Unfortunately, the amazing graphics aren’t enough of a mitigating factor here. It would be best to wait until this game goes on sale before picking it up, or better yet, just wait until it hits the bargain bins.

This game receives a 2.75/5.

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

August 12, 2011 - 9:00 am