Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet and Anime Review
For this review, I wanted to review Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet as well as the first two seasons of the SAO anime to let you know if the game is worth checking out for casual gamers and from the perspective of those who watched the anime. As a disclaimer, I started watching the anime after I picked up the game and only watched season one and two of the anime, so I'm not considering the manga, other games or spin-offs related to the SAO universe. With season 3 of SAO coming in 2018, should you get caught up with SAO?
So first off, is this game worth it for casual gamers who have not watched the anime? I would say no. The game's combat and core gameplay are actually very solid and are definitely the best part of the game. The number of weapons, skills/abilities, the variety of bosses, and character stat distribution all have a level of depth I was surprised to see. Basically any time I was on the battlefield or running through the game's dungeons I was having a blast. The game has an auto-aim feature that targets nearby enemies, but you soon realize that aiming down the sights of your gun will help you deal more damage as you aim for enemies weak spots.
However, everything else in the game detracts from this enjoyment. Anytime you have to return to town, listen to the dialogue, or watch a cutscene the game drags to a halt. The Japanese voice-overs for the game are actually faithful to the anime and are done well, but there are is so much dialogue and most being inconsequential to the story, I actually avoided the optional dialogue towards the end of the game and only talked to characters to progress the main story.
Even the conclusion of the game is disappointing, and the highlight was playing through "Kirito Mode" which rehashes the events of the anime in Season 2 of the anime.
Of course, if you are a fan of the anime, and buy this game knowing what you are expecting then this wouldn't be a negative in your view. After watching the season one and two of the anime SAO, I had a better connection to the dozen characters that appear from the anime into the game. The anime has a couple cool action scenes, but the series is a drama and it makes sense that the game wanted to focus on the characters and having you develop your relationship with these characters that the anime already introduced.
At times the game also feels like a visual novel game, with the character appearing and leaving. It even had side quests and romantic scenes with specific characters that are just portrayed with a still image. After returning to town after a couple of mainline story quests, you can return to build up of optional dialogue scenes that seem to drag on forever.
This brings me to the anime of SAO, and if you should watch it before playing the game. I watched a good amount of anime growing up, and I wouldn't recommend it. Of course, I prefer action orientated anime but if you like drama and typical weeaboo anime, this might be up your alley. SAO is a strange series, which I have mixed opinions about. I love MMORPG games, so I thought this would be perfect. The concept is for the 1st episode is great, being trapped in an MMO with life or death consequences. Even though they address the fact that most MMO players are dudes, the story focuses on the main character Kirito and all the female characters that are always falling in love with him. Even his sister in real life ends up falling in love with him, and the 1st season falls apart as the 2nd half of the 1st season goes in a completely different direction, with the tones of incest, rape, and even tentacle monsters.
However, luckily the game Deadly Bullet is based on the second season based on the virtual world of Gun Gale Online or GGO. I thought the second season was better, and even though I would prefer the age of swords and shields compared to the world of guns and lightsabers, the story of the 2nd season was more consistent and still approached mature topics of death and obsession(and rape) in more serious ways. One major gripe I have with the game versus the anime is that in the anime, the world of GGO is dark/gritty and only filled with professionals that play the game for a living. In the game, it is mostly bright and colorful and the characters are all happy, child-like players. It would have been better to see GGO as it looked in the anime.
I purchased this game because I wanted to try something new, I've never played an anime game I wasn't already familiar with.
With that said, it wasn't for me and I would not recommend SAO: Fatal Bullet or the anime as a matter of fact. It definitely has its pros and cons, but I would give the game a 6/10. Even though the game was released in the US, it didn't get English voice-overs which reflects the smaller audience or fan base in the US.
Thanks for reading and let me know what your favorite game based on an anime is or what you want to see in season 3 of SAO.