Star Gladiator, the prequel to Plasma Sword, surprised a lot of folks with its oddball cast and sharp, eye-catching visuals. Unfortunately, the game's tap-tap combo fighting engine is as challenging as dialing 1-800-COLLECT really quickly, so the fun didn't last a very long time. Now that Capcom's given us Plasma Sword (Star Gladiator 2) for DC, we have improved visuals over the PS original, though these graphics aren't anywhere near their potential (Soul Calibur makes Plasma Sword look like its bitch). We also have a ton of new characters, special moves and combos. The gameplay, however, is still pretty shallow (but that's not to say it's not enjoyable). The game's counter/parry system illustrates this perfectly. The Plasma Revenge or Plasma Reflect requires two buttons being pressed at the right time to nullify or reflect back an attack. This is waaay easier to do than a Soul Calibur repel or parry because Plasma Sword's system is much more forgiving with the timing and distance. This game also has several mash-type combos when you draw an opponent into a Plasma Field. If you like Power Stone and its frantic, more accessible approach to fighting games, then you'll certainly appreciate Plasma Sword's simpler gameplay style. But fans of hardcore fighting games won't get a whole lot out of this disc.
There's an argument that says, "Why do you need this when you have Soul Calibur?" Weapons-based 3D fighting is already pretty much sewn up on OC. so a game would have to be pretty special to have a chance. To be honest, SG2 reminds me a lot of Toshinden...which isn't necessarily a great thing. It's flashy, fast and I quite like some of the characters, but ultimately you don't always feel fully in control of the action.
When are developers going to learn that a sucky fighting engine, with more characters and better graphics, still equals crap game? I didn't like Star Gladiators and Plasma Sword doesn't fare much better. The biggest problem here is that these galactic idiots all look about as appealing as dirt. Graphically, the game looks like it's a hi-res System, minus all the motion capturing that made SFEX so pretty. Uninspired gameplay tops it off.
Plasma Sword provides the flash and craziness expected from most Capcom fighters in an extremely speedy DC package. Of course, even though it may be a little wacky in spots, that's not to say the game is strictly for amateurs. On the contrary, it can be fairly involved if you want it to be with parries, counters and what not. And while it's not as visually impressive or as complex as Soul Calibur, it's still a blast to play. It's certainly a fighter to consider.