Many gamers know that a lot of Japanese titles don't often make it to our shores. While you can still get them through import websites like eBay or Amazon, there's usually a hefty price tag attached. Fortunately, Bleach fans can enjoy this exception that has arrived on US shores. Bleach: Soul Ressurecćion is also available on game rental sites if you're a little gun shy on buying it right off the bat. While the story will make sense to fans of the series, everyone else may appreciate it for the gameplay alone. However, this game is only available on the PlayStation 3, so if you don't own one you're out of luck.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Bleach series, I will take this time to explain it to you from the beginning. I can't give you every detail since the series has a long life span and so much to go into, but I can tell you how it started so you can at least get an idea of how it turns out.
A 15-year-old high school student named Ichigo "Strawberry" Kurosaki has the ability to see ghosts and spirits. One day, he meets a Soul Reaper (or Shinigami, which means "death god" in Japanese) named Rukia Kuchiki, who is looking for a Hollow, some strong spiritual pressure, or both. Ichigo's family is attacked by the Hollow some time later, and Ichigo, learning that the Hollow is searching for him, tries to give up his life to save them (his two younger sisters, specifically) but is instead saved by Rukia who jumps in the way to save Ichigo. Rukia then offers Ichigo power to become a substitute Soul Reaper, which he uses to defeat the Hollow and save his sisters. From that point on, he makes a vow to use this power to protect those in trouble and to protect his loved ones. As the series goes on, Ichigo meets more Soul Reapers, meets friends and foes just like him, and so on. Just another day in the life of a Substitute Soul Reaper. He even managed to get his own movie. Four of them, actually.
To add more to the information you just received, Soul Reapers come from a place called the Soul Society and are protectors of the human world (Karakura Town in this case; this is where Ichigo lives and where most of the series takes place) and help lost souls make their way to the Soul Society. Hollows are the most common enemies that like to feed on human souls, which Soul Reapers are there to prevent. Arancars are more advanced forms of Hollows, and yes, Ichigo's hair color is natural. I say this because at the beginning of the series a group of characters at some point didn't like the color of Ichigo's hair (this was a flashback, though). Also, many believed that Tite Kubo, the mangaka (author/creator) of Bleach, gave the series such a weird name because he was referring to Ichigo's hair- which was originally believed to be "Bleached".
Bleach: Soul Ressurrecćion takes place during the Orihime Rescue Mission arc. An ex-Soul Reaper named Sosuke Aizen wants to use an item called the Hogyoku to transcend the boundary between Soul Reaper and Hollow. With an army of powerful Hollow soldiers called Arancars, he proves himself as a force to be reckoned with. Facinated by her powers of healing, he forces Orihime, one of Ichigo's friends, to join him by threatening to hurt her friends - the most important to her being Ichigo Kurosaki. After learning of the situation, Ichigo and his friends embark on a journey to Hueco Mundo to battle the Arancars and rescue Orihime. But the story doesn't end there - and I'll leave it at that. I don't want to give any more spoilers.
For those of you who have played Dynasty Warriors, where you go through beat-em-up segments that are based on historical facts, you will find a very similar gameplay style here, only it's not based on history, it's entirely fictional. You fight enemies until you reach the end of the stage and defeat the last boss or get to a designated area, but don't think that it doesn't have originality. I even dare to say that it takes the DW gameplay element to a whole other level because it has a fresh experience with each attack, even if you use the same attack again and again. Because unlike Dynasty Warriors, which is slow and repetitive, Soul Ressurecćion is a little more fast-paced and frantic. The game doesn't let you design a character like Dynasty Warriors, but that isn't needed here.
There are four kinds of attacks: weak attacks, pressure attacks, special attacks and Ignition attacks. Weak attacks are the basic form of attacking. They are the quickest of the four attack forms and can seamlessly be linked into other attacks. Pressure attacks require some energy from the Spiritual Pressure gauge in order to perform them. You can link these into combos, as well, but you must keep an eye on the Spiritual Pressure gauge. If it runs out, you will not be able to use some of your most essential attacks. Fortunately, the gauge recovers gradually when it does run out but you will still be somewhat at a disadvantage, regardless. Pressure attacks can also be linked seamlessly with other attacks. Special attacks, like Pressure attacks, also use the Spiritual Pressure gauge. The only difference is that while Pressure attacks use up a fraction of the gauge, Special attacks use up the entire gauge. These attacks also end the combo streak as well. Maybe not in the Beat Counter (the indication for the number of hits/combos landed; we'll go into more details about this later), but it acts more like a finishing move. I recommend using special attacks when ending a combo, or when you're surrounded by enemies, because that seems to be the intention for them. Special attacks are different for each character, though, so experimentation is encouraged.
Ignition attacks are the ultimate turnaround, and can only be used when you fill up the Ignition gauge. You fill up the Ignition gauge by attacking, and the gauge fills even faster when performing combos. Once the Ignition gauge is filled and Ignition is activated, you go into a crazy-powered state and your Spiritual Pressure gauge fills up completely. Your attacks are twice as strong and the more enemies you defeat (or the more combos you have), the longer you stay in Ignition. If you press the Ignition button again while Ignition is active, you will execute an extremely powerful Ignition attack unique to each character. For example, Ichigo's default state in this game is his Bankai form, Tensa Zangetsu. When Ignition is activated, Ichigo will use his Hollow mask. When you use his Ignition attack, he uses Getsuuga Tensho and inflicts heavy damage on whatever is in range of the attack. Once an Ignition attack is used, however, the character will return to their normal state. So try keeping up the offensive as long as you can, especially when in a dire situation. Remember, the more combos you land, the longer you stay in Ignition.
Combos also play a vital role in Soul Ressurrecćion. As you continue to keep up the offensive, you will perform combos attacks which increases the number in the Beat Counter. The more combos you perform, the more Soul Points you'll earn. We'll get to Soul Points in a bit. You can look at each character's attack list before each level and in the pause menu.
Some extra abilities that can be performed are blocking, an evasion technique called Flash Step, dashing on the ground and in mid-air (or is that flying?), locking on to enemies and switching targets. There are also breakable objects in most of the game's levels that contain goodies such as health regeneration and the like.
There are a variety of enemies (the enemies are called Hollows, as explained earlier). Some similar to others, and some totally different, there is a proper way to fight them all, especially when some groups of Hollows are paired with other groups. When you first start playing the game, it looks easy to the point where it seems you can just blaze your way through. But as you progress through the game's difficulty levels, you will be in situations where you will be forced to be on the defensive side as you are constantly taking damage and desperately trying to escape alive. This game will push you to the highest degree possible and the next difficulty will always make you rethink how challenging the last one was.
Aside from general gameplay, there are technically over 20 characters in the game, one of them being a special character from the fourth Bleach movie. Each character can be leveled up with Soul Points (mentioned earlier), which are obtained by playing through levels. The level up system is very similar to that of Final Fantasy XIII's Crystarium, where you level up characters by choosing specific points on a board-game like structure. But unlike FFXIII, character level-ups can cross over onto other character's level-up panes. In fact, sometimes a character can't level up further because other characters haven't reached a certain level, making leveling up more strategic than usual. So if you want to level up your characters, you might want to avoid favoritism.
If you feel like doing something other than story mode, Soul Attack is a good place to go if you feel like completing missions and competing for top rank in the world or against your friends. Mission Mode is basically the same as the story mode, only without the story. Simply put and as the name implies, you complete the levels while completing the mission objective. There is also a Collection mode where you look at all of the bonuses you have unlocked, but they're just character figurines. There's no other kind of unlockables in this game, which is kind of a letdown. And of course, there's the Options menu where you can configure your game settings and switch between English and Japanese voiceovers - which are very well done I might add.
There are some downsides to the gameplay, though. The game does not have multiplayer, neither local or online. While the game is fun by itself, it could use some extra content. It's not just unlockables, either. Game modes, characters, cutscenes, and other essential elements you would expect to find in games like this are missing. There is plenty to do with this single-player game, but it would've given it a little bit of longevity and more content to strive for. Multiplayer would've been an awesome addition as well. And if you're not familiar with the Bleach series, the game's story will leave you lost and confused.
Morals are also a bit challenged, if not majorly. Two female characters wear revealing outfits. Also, because the game is based on the Bleach series, you can expect it to be spiritually occult. For example, in English some of the main characters are Soul Reapers, but in Japanese they're called Shinigami (or death gods). There is also a mission level called Hell based on the fourth Bleach movie, The Hell Verse. There is even a Skullclad version of Ichigo Kurosaki that often says that Hell is giving him power. Minor profanity can be expected, too.
Overall, Bleach: Soul Ressureccion offers an awesome action packed story that stays true to the popular anime series. If you enjoy the series and can accept the moral issues, this game is worth checking out as long as you don't mind playing solo.