An SAO game taking place in the steel and bullet world of Gun Gale Online, where you play as your own original character with brand new friends and go through your own story, in a game developed by Dimps as a spiritual successor to the highly praised Freedom Wars game, that is advertised as your decisions having a significant effect on the world, sounds like it doesn’t get any better than this, right? Until you realize the mass marketing of the game falls apart and we are left with a game that fails to deliver on it’s promises, despite actually being a solid game mega moolah nz at Casinoslots New Zealand. Ultimate review for Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet! [Fatal Bullet Intro] Alright, so many people have been asking Bandai Namco to create a Sword Art Online game where they can play as their own character and while I don’t share the sentiment, Bandai Namco still delivered.
In Fatal Bullet, you play as your own character and embark on a “journey” featuring an original “story” with the request of your childhood friend Kureha and come across new people such as Zeliska, Itsuki and your AI companion ArFA-Sys. While Kirito and others also exist in the game, they are mostly exposition material and are not really integral to the “story”, aside from Kirito and Sinon in the additional Kirito Mode storyline, where Phantom Bullet arc with Death Gun is adapted to the gameverse. This was supposed to be the ultimate SAO experience, where there was a very personal story and your OC would be right in the middle of it with his/her decisions, affecting the world and the flow of the events. It didn’t really work out that way, did it… Remember that this Ultimate Review is for the base game and does not take the DLC’s into account, the first of which has released today, 27th of April on all consoles, while a critical authentication issue seems to be preventing PC players from accessing it currently. If you are not familiar with my Ultimate Reviews, I start by reviewing the “story” aspect of the game, then go onto gameplay, which I consider to be the second of the two main pillars of a game and follow this with supporting pillars like the music, graphics, voice acting etc.
I do not provide scores or anything, I aim to provide you the information that you need to decide for yourself, if the game is for you or not. So without further ado, let’s start with the “story” of Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet, and a fair spoiler warning for those of you who do not want spoilers, not that there is much to spoiler in this game from a story perspective anyways aside from the final act, but still, you may want to skip to the time mentioned on your screen to avoid the spoilery part. If you’ve been watching this with the subtitles on, you have probably realized by now that I keep referring to the story of this game in quotes. There are a couple of major problems with this game and this is one of those issues. There is not really a story in sight. The only major story thread kicks in at about 80% into the game where things start getting interesting and even then, there is no real payoff to the build up.
But Im getting ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning. The game begins as you enter Gun Gale Online and meet your childhood friend, Kureha. Together, you join a tournament, you stumble upon an ArFA-Sys unit who registers you as its master. Kirito goes on to attack you, but immediately stops after realizing the fate of the ArFA-Sys Unit is set by already being bound to you.
That is as much of a story as you will have for the remainder of the game, until the final act. After this semi-action scene, the game turns into a collectathon, with significant exposition dumps. Like, seriously, after you meet Kirito, there is an hour long exposition dump, with you meeting all the characters of the game in a single go, without a single gameplay section and things don’t get any better, even after the intro sequence is over. There is a new update coming to GGO, introducing a brand new area called SBC Flügel and ArFA-Sys units are the key to getting there. But, you need to collect certain parts for your ArFA-Sys to meet the requirements of this new area.
And surprise surprise, pretty much the rest of the game turns into “Complete this dungeon to grab part A”, “Defeat this boss to collect part B” and on and on. I don’t really consider “Play the game” a story, when I am already playing a game. Im just gonna fast forward here about 3 areas, so I can start with the little part that has some story. After you reach SBC Flügel, your childhood friend Kureha starts getting upset, as you start surpassing her in GGO, the only place where she felt capable herself, which creates a rift between you and her.
Meanwhile, Itsuki starts going really creepy, making it very obvious that he is going to become the villain. Meanwhile, Death Gun enters the picture and this is where the story splits into two, with Kirito mode coming into play. Kirito mode is essentially the entire Phantom Bullet arc, copy pasted into this game, although the character personalities and motivations are so much different in the SAO gameverse, which results in an extremely jarring experience. I mean, let’s be real, one of the first sentences Sinon spouts in Kirito mode is that she is weak, but her friends give her the strength to stand tall, which she follows up by saying “And thats why I joined Bullet of Bullets alone to defeat Death Gun!”…
That hypocrisy pretty much sums up the entire Kirito Mode. It just falls short on many aspects and is quite non-sensical when it comes to story. The cause of this is that in Kirito Mode, the Gameverse tries adapting into the main canon. If they would have followed the same path as Fairy Dance in Hollow Fragment and Mothers Rosario in Lost Song and adapted Phantom Bullet into Fatal Bullet, instead of the other way around, Kirito mode could have been an amazing and engaging story. But in the end, it just was none of that.
Simultaneously in the Gameverse timeline, in the main campaign, your OC receives a threat, supposedly by Death Gun and is forced to wear a NerveGear that was sent to his address and log in to an remote server, with the original Death penalty for dying in place, same as Aincrad. As you log in, you encounter Kureha, Zeliska and Itsuki, having received the same threat and also logged in the same way. Now this is where the only decision in the game happens and the decision only exists for the Bad Endings of the game. Depending on your decision, either Kureha or Zeliska die while trying to protect you, or if you unlocked the True Ending, You will defeat the boss without any issues and spoil Itsuki’s plan, without anybody dying.
I have specific videos where I go much more in depth about the endings and their faults and you can find them by clicking the icon on the upper right corner. But there are 2 main points. Your decision doesn’t matter for the canon True Ending and the ending itself is inconclusive, which is a huge problem for a game to have, not being able to properly conclude the one story thread it has created. But, yeah… That is pretty much it on the story side of things.. Overall, a very disappointing experience, where the game does not manage to deliver on the promises it made in it’s marketing campaign, with 80% of it being exposition and only about 20% being meaningful story bits.
But the problems will continue when we get to the supporting pillars and talk about characters. But before doing that, let me talk about the gameplay. Fatal Bullet is by far the closest the SAO gameverse has come to being a proper game in terms of gameplay. So far, pretty much all the games have been Visual Novels with some gameplay attached to them.
Fatal Bullet however, is an actual game, with a Visual Novel attached to it. While not on the levels of a triple A game like the Division, the gunplay is solid, the enemy variety is alright for its size. I had initial troubles with the game and its sticky aim as it’s called on consoles, while I refused to use the Aim Assist mechanic, which turned out to be a big mistake. You see, the Aim Assist this game has, is not the same Aim Assist we know from other games, in Fatal Bullet, Aim Assist does not refer to the Sticky Aim. It is one of the mechanics in Fatal Bullet that makes the game less of a tactical shooter like the Division and more of a fast paced, Arcade styled game, to keep the combat flow going!
As I have gotten used to using the Aim Assist, my experienced with the game became much much more enjoyable and while some people will still turn the feature off because they wan’t more of a hardcore experience, I really appreciated it for allowing me to have mindless fun with the game, thanks to the increased combat pace that it allowed. That was indeed something an anime game like this could have used and it was a magnificent addition. The only problem with the weapons is… Sadly, the Photon Swords. While all guns work perfectly fine, especially with the Aim Assist helping you shred moving targets at a much faster rate, same can’t be said about this unique weapon type.
Supposedly, Photon Swords are the most agile type of weapons… Well, they certainly don’t feel that way. Combined with the lack of a target-lock mechanic, stiff Sword Skills that require you to be 99% on target to connect and not deal a lot of damage anyways and the overall sluggish feel of this weapon type is plainly a bad experience. I really tried liking Photon Swords in this game, I truly did.
I played the entire story, with a Photon Sword in my hand. But I have never gotten any good feelings from using it.. But overall, if you are not obsessed about using a Photon Sword, the gameplay is absolutely solid, with tons of different gun types to suit your needs and they all will let you play the way you want to.
The AI will cause you issues, since they are outright stupid, but that has been a trend in pretty much every game. At this point, you should’ve gotten used to being the solo hero. I should probably sneak in Multiplayer into gameplay as well.
I played a little bit of multiplayer and I can say that the underlying netcode is not very good. I haven’t seen such bad connection quality, since the bad days of Destiny 1 PvP. Due to these connection issues, PvP Battles suffer a lot.
But PvE coop quests that give you a common objective to work as a team are not that bad, considering your friends lagging, does not have a huge effect on the boss itself. Once lag spikes are over, all of your contribution seems to be registering just fine. And with that, we are closing in at the end of this review. Let’s talk quickly about the supporting pillars, starting with music. And keep in mind that music is mostly a subjective matter. Overall, I find Fatal Bullet soundtrack to be quite strong in general, in comparison to previous SAO games, on par with Hollow Realization, which has my favourite SAO game soundtrack.
The action packed tunes are very great and the developers being Dimps, a company who developed many Sonic games, they sure know how to use fast paced tracks. I can’t say the same thing for calmer tracks though.. The non-action oriented tunes are outright forgettable and I have the feeling that Dimps realized that and opted for a mostly “no music” approach to many events that don’t have action. But coupled with the seemingly tired voice acting, this actually has been the worse choice to make. I don’t know what happened in this game, but every character sounds too… Stale. This increadibly baffling, because all the previous SAO games had top notch VA performance, especially Artdink games.
Despite how much I don’t like Lost Song and Accel World vs SAO, they both had an incredibly passionate performance by their respective VA’s. In Fatal Bullet however, the characters sound bored. Maybe that is because the actors were given too much expositional lines, maybe it is because of the voice filter their voices go through in certain environments, but they just don’t give the feeling that they are invested in the events in general. And this actually couples nicely with another aspect, namely the presentation. I know some people don’t like the fact that dialogues are not presented with the usual 2D sprites, but rather the in game 3D models this time around.
I personally don’t have a problem with this, but I understand where you are coming from if you do, it’s down to opinions afterall. The problem is the OC character being a mute character. I told this in my True Ending critique video last week, I am a strong advocate against silent custom protagonists, because 99% of the time, this is where it leads things to.
In a group talk, everybody completely ignores you or just outright speak for you and in one on one talks, the person talking to you, is essentially doing a monologue, both scenarios are not fun to watch, because the character that is supposed to be the main character, becomes absolutely inneffectual, a huge deal breaker when it comes to immersion. To be honest, the game shines during the side events, mostly within the circle where the perspective character belongs. If you have a side event as OC, the events with Kureha, Zeliska and especially Bazalt Joe are extremely well done. Same goes for Kirito, when you go through events with main SAO characters, most of the time, the events are quite entertaining. But when the OC starts interacting with the main cast, there is a significant disconnect between the main cast and the OC, since the game does not do anything to make us believe that anybody besides Kirito, Asuna and Sinon from the main cast are actually our friends. Meanwhile, Bed Scenes, all around, whether in OC scenes or in Kirito mode, are extremely forced.
You see, Bed Scenes in previous games, were more intimate moments between characters than actual dates or sexual scenes. You can complain about Gameverse girls having their Bed Scenes with the OC instead of Kirito, but that is not the problem here. The problem is, all these Bed Scenes in Fatal Bullet, act like they are actual dates… At the very least every beginning scene, which is completely unnecessary and irrelevant, especially considering none of the characters acknowledge this during the actual Bed Scenes.