Not shying away from the time-tested tradition of adding more subtitles to fighting games, Continuum Shift Extend is the latest revision of Arc System Works’ BlazBlue series. Extend is yet another “sequel” in the same vein Continuum Shift II was, focusing solely on character balance updates, and actually giving the previous DLC characters proper stories in the BlazBlue narrative. CSII never came out outside of arcades and handhelds though, so Extend brings that content plus more to both home consoles and the PlayStation Vita.
One thing that’s peculiar about Extend is how the reasons for picking it up over the previous games can vary. If you’ve never played any of the games before, Extend is the perfect game to start with, as it contains all of the content and DLC from Continuum Shift, the extra story segments from CSII, additional bits exclusive to Extend and a redone and condensed version of the original game’s story. On the other hand, if you’re someone who had already picked up either CS or CSII, all Extend adds is a few extra story segments and one new character, which, depending on what your level of investment in the series is, may not be enough to warrant making Extend an immediate purchase. Or you could simply be a fan of the gameplay, and want to own the version with the latest balance patches and most active community, which is perfectly valid as well.
Outside of Story mode, Extend also introduces a new Abyss mode, a new take on the normal endless survival mode. As you deal damage to enemies, you’ll increase a depth meter. After every 20 floors, you’ll face a “boss” version of a character, with increased stats and extra abilities. Every time you beat a boss character, you’re rewarded with stat customization and extra abilities of your own choosing, all the way up until you reach a specific depth that varies on what difficulty you picked for the mode: 100 for Easy mode, 500 for Normal and 999 for Hard. It’s a nice change of pace from the regular gameplay, but it can be a bit annoying at times since every time you hit a multiple of 20, your current fight is interrupted with the boss fight. Very often will you finish a fight at say, 58 depth, load up the next fight, hit the opponent three or four times and have that match get interrupted to load up the next one.
BlazBlue continues to have the best net code in a 2D fighter. The Vita version a bit less stable in this regard, but the fact that it even runs the console assets with a decent net code in online play is amazing enough. The new team battle mode gives an extra alternative to the basic one-on-one matches, though those will still continue to be the most popular for online play. With Extend having one of the most well-balanced rosters in a fighting game, this makes for some great online play, where skill and mistakes are often the tide-turners in nearly every match.
Really, it’s hard to not praise Extend for a lot of the things it brings forward in the genre, some of them built on previous things in the series. Challenge mode missions will teach you basic combos for each character. In-game currency allows you to purchase concept art, tons of fan art, alternate color unlocks, items used in Abyss mode and “Unlimited” versions of each character to use in versus play. Your overall rank is tied to both online play and single player, meaning you don’t have to even touch online play if you want to unlock everything in the game. Arc System Works spared no expense on the game either, as the PS3 and Vita versions include an in-game cloud saving feature, which you can use to easily transfer saves between consoles or handhelds.
Really, for launching at less than the standard MSRP, Continuum Shift Extend has a lot of content to ride on. Whatever your opinion is on fighting game revisions, there’s plenty of fun to be had here, more so if you love a healthy community around a good fighting engine. While not a proper sequel, Extend only raises expectations for the eventual BlazBlue 3, which can’t come soon enough.
Pros: Great version of the game, with all the extras
Cons: May not be enough extra if you have Continuum Shift