Chaos Code is a fun game. After each match in this 2D fighter I was ready for another. Everything in this game wants you to have a good time, whether it is the announcer stating the round number in old-school arcade fashion or seeing your character perform a flashy special move and flying around the screen. Entertainment takes priority and that makes up for the lack of originality in the gameplay.
This typical 2D fighter has the four face buttons: light kick, heavy kick, light punch, heavy punch. These are used to string together devastating combos to outmatch your opponent. Special moves and super moves allow for punishing hits on your opponent and a maxed out super meter allows you to perform Destruction Chaos. This is a larger and more impressive super move that does excessive amounts of damage to your adversary. Alternatively, you can activate Exceed Chaos which allows your character to perform as many specials as they want in addition to regenerating health during a short period. The game mechanics work and allow for tense matches to take place, but nothing felt different from any other fighters on the market. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the game is very easy to play for anyone from button mashing newcomers to combo crazy veterans. What makes the gameplay a joy is presentation.
Backgrounds are lively and well designed, from swimmers cheering during a poolside battle to a neon downtown with a large crowds watching the action. Stages are accompanied by music that perfectly captures the feel of the area you are fighting in. The soundtrack is a mix of metal and rock that builds energy and hype as the match continues. Everything happening on screen is energetic, colorful, and exciting. This perfect blend of visual and sound draws you into the experience.Characters also have expressive moves that range from epic to laugh out loud silly.
As with fighting game tradition, the story mode consists of taking a character through several stages and facing off against different opponents,eventually tackling the end boss, or in this case the two bosses. Celia II, the first boss, is challenging, but her follow up, Kudlak-Sin, is infuriatingly difficult, but definitely beatable, making your eventual triumph over him immensely rewarding. However, the actual story content is lackluster. All the dialogue is presented over a still image and is often confusing and trying to tell too much in a small time frame. The game can end in two different ways, Ending A or B, depending on how well you play. Either way, each character is going after the “Chaos Code” for their own purpose, but I still have no clear idea what it is exactly. This is a letdown as each character in the game is intriguing and deserving of a decent story.
Characters are full of personality in Chaos Code. Out of the fourteen playable characters, each has their own identity that makes them unique and affects play styles. Vein is a swordsman who slashes through his rivals and will act like they are wasting his time, while Bravo is an Italian chef who will throw his opponent into a cooking pot or catch them in a giant frying pan and spin them around to deal damage. Each character feels different and they all are a blast to play.
You get to make the character you chose feel more unique with the customization options in the game. Before every match you are allowed to choose two additional moves for your character. There are four moves to choose from and these are split between two special moves and two super moves, each exclusive to that character. On top of that, you get to choose the way your character moves by either running or dashing. This may seem like a small addition, but it tailors the character to your play style and makes them feel more like your own while fighting.
For whatever reason, gameplay is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio while the menus are in 16:9. While I understand this is a port of a Japanese arcade game, I don’t feel like this is an excuse to have annoying bars compress the screen. This isn’t the only thing that makes the game feel like it needed more time in production. There is no online mode which is very odd and unacceptable in a fighting game nowadays. Local competitive play is available and shows just how welcome having the ability to play with anyone in the world is.
I enjoyed my time with Chaos Code. While it doesn’t break any new ground for the fighting game genre, it does provide a fun experience through tried and true gameplay mechanics and an overflowing amount of personality. Chaos Code doesn’t stand against the likes of Street Fighter or Tekken in terms of depth and production value, but it will serve as a fun alternative for people looking for something to have an enjoyable time messing around with different characters and combos.Note: Chaos Code was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.