Disclosure – review copy was provided for this review
Going into Battle for the Grid I was cautiously optimistic. For someone like me, a casual fighting game fan there needs to be a strong theme and more importantly good fun fighting mechanics. My expectation where met and even exceeded in the case of the latter however this is let down by the somewhat wasted potential of an IP like Power Rangers.
To start with the good, the fundamentals are an amazing groundwork for any fighting game. It took a few matches and a little stint in the training lab but once the rhythmic flow of the game’s combat clicked I was feeling like a pro in no time. Rather than your 1v1 fighting games, Battle for the Grid implements a 3v3 tag system which allows for some insanely satisfying combos to unfold. The way you tag in fellow fighters is also fun allowing to extend on from an assist to keep on the pressure and maximize potential. This fluidity combined with super moves allows for a lot of depth in a relatively simple to learn system. Traditional fighting archetypes are covered from the quicker rush down characters to mid-range and some more heavier characters. Every type of fighter has at least one character for them in the games initial offering of 9 characters.
Starting on 9 characters with an additional 4 planned through a season pass seems like a negative at first look but considering the game is a £16 game this is a fine roster. It is helped that none of these 9 are left by the wayside they all feel like their own unique character with an easy to play hard to master and adding in the element of online play makes this initial roster truly an exciting prospect at least mechanically.
Speaking of online when I was able to get into a match the gameplay really excelled there were no major issues a few graphical bugs but no input lag or anything particularly game breaking, I often found myself having unspoken rivalries where I would match someone get beaten rework my team composition and then find them at a later and overcome them.
Now on to the not so good, there’s no story. no setup. which is fine for perhaps the more hardcore of fighting gamers but coming into this as a casual fighting game fan and more so a fan of Power Rangers this was a letdown, especially since they are pulling from all over the morphing grid and including one of the coolest villains of all time Lord Drakkon. It gets more disappointing diving into arcade mode that just happens and ends, scroll credits. Nothing for your rewards of beating arcade with all 9 characters it just ends. I really would have liked to see some unlockables or at the very least an intro and outro for each character in arcade mode to set up motivations and where they end up.
My biggest problems with the game became apparent in my first game, the game looks like Power Rangers but it doesn’t feel like it allows me to elaborate. Take a game like Dragon Ball FighterZ another 3v3 fighter based on an existing IP the game lovingly recreates the way I felt watching the show but in a contextual manner in which I was responsible. Pulling off characters special move in FighterZ feels amazing and like its actually happening, to contrast battle for the grid pulling out the dragon dagger and using the Dragonzord just does not have the same fanfare.
I think a large part of this lacking of the game feeling like Power Rangers rather than a mechanically sound fighting game is the mise-en-scene of the elements. Remove the fighting mechanics for a second and picture the character models they are good and just good they are nothing special and have no flare to them, the real glaring negative when it comes to visuals is the bland backgrounds. The command center lacks any of the awe and detail to it there’s a poorly model Zordon in the background it just feels flat. This is then combined with a noticeable lack of sounds or sound effects.
Power Rangers are synonymous with their over the top explosions transformations, battle cries and of course the earworms that are the themes of each season all of it again is lacking. Every time I pull off Jason’s super I am wanting to hear a Tyrannosaurus call or having Tommy call for the Dragon Zord.
To summarise if you are wanting a cheap, accessible mechanically solid 3v3 fighting game then I implore you to give it a go developer nWay clearly thought a lot about making a solid fighting game and they really do succeed. However, if you are coming in as a Power Ranger fan then depending on what you are looking for you may be let down. That is not to say things can’t change with patches or even in a sequel down the road. This is a rocky start built on strong foundations and I for one am excited and hopeful to see where Power Rangers Battle for the Grid can go, especially if that includes the Titanium Ranger.
- Strong Fighting Mechanics
- Unique Roster
- Sound Design