Safety seems to be a much greater concern in reality than in media. In the real world, parkour of the sort that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed heroes get into tends to result in a quick trip to the hospital, for instance. Here’s another great example – if video games worked out like they did in Sword Art Online, we probably wouldn’t be playing quite so many of them.
Here’s the sitch: VR-based MMORPGs were set to become the big new thing, headlined by the titular Sword Art Online. Things go bad, people get trapped in SAO unable to log out, and a bunch of folks die when they’re killed ingame and it results in their deaths in reality. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the player Kirito and his entourage, the SAO nightmare ended and the survivors were able to escape. Naturally, that meant that the development of VR-based MMOs ended because they can straight up kill people, right?
Of course not! Swort Art Online: Fatal Bullet follows your original character into yet another one of these games, Gun Gale Online, essentially a VR take on something like Defiance or Borderlands. Your character, in true protagonist fashion, ends up finding some ultra-rare loot, befriending Kirito himself, hanging out with all the cool kids and so on. You’ll team up, go on adventures and explore Gun Gale Online in true faux-MMO fashion.
Previous SAO games focused on the original Sword Art Online and the later, but similar, ALfheim Online. These were sword-and-sorcery MMOs that owed some inspiration to classics of the genre like Ultima Online. Gun Gale, meanwhile, is focused on action and gunplay, meaning that Fatal Bullet feels a little more unique than previous entries in the series. Your character’s grappling hook and the overall feel of the combat bring to mind the Lost Planet games while the focus on randomized loot with varying modifiers is somewhat reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online.
Meanwhile, managing your party members in and out of combat adds a unique touch to the proceedings – in particular, your character’s personal android helper can be customized to an enjoyable degree. Your own character can equip a variety of weapons, choose from a vast selection of skills, and even co-opt Kirito’s sword-and-gun fighting style if you’re really into that idea. You can even hop on multiplayer if you want to see how your character matches up.
The catchy combat and the focus on loot lend an addictive quality to Fatal Bullet’s gameplay. It’s a shame that it takes awhile to get there and that it keeps getting interrupted; there’s a big focus on a fairly uninteresting plot, not to mention how the spotlight keeps getting dragged off your character and onto Kirito and other signature SAO characters. Fans of the SAO franchise are sure to love it, but if you’re just looking for a solid looter-shooter then the extended dialogue sessions might prove to be irritating.
Fatal Bullet’s presentation is solid as expected from this franchise; the game looks, sounds and runs great, though your mileage may vary based on how you feel about the aesthetic. As for the localization, which I wouldn’t call bad, there’s some interesting quirks here and there that lend the game a…unique feel. Weapons are often described in terms of their ability to shoot bullets, how many bullets they hold and so on – it’s a very specific sort of verbiage that feels a little odd. That’s not a game-ruiner by any means, but it did lead to a chuckle here and there.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet isn’t going to shake the Earth for those who aren’t SAO super-fans, but it’s still a surprisingly solid action-RPG from a franchise that shouldn’t have to try this hard to sell. That means that you don’t have to be a die-hard to get something out of this game. If you can get past the sopping adoration that Fatal Bullet ladles on its signature characters at every turn, you’ll enjoy taking a trip through Gun Gale Online.