Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Power Rangers Battle for the Grid (Steam) - PC Game Review


 

Well, here is a fighting game that everyone told me I was supposed to be excited for when it was announced. It's a fighting game, which is not a genre I have ever been hardcore into, but I felt a little obligated to give this game a try at some point. Why the Steam version? Because it was on sale. So, click "read more" and I will give you my review.



Writing


People who only know power rangers from the TV show and movies might be taken off guard by the story in this game, as it is very dark and violent. This story is actually based on the Boom Studios comics, The Shattered Grid, and the evil Lord Drakkon. 



I haven't read the comics but I am familiar with them and have attended live readings, so I know the story well enough. So, I can tell you that is game is not the best adaptation of the comics. Don't get me wrong, it is not bad. The key moments are there and the overall story is in tact, but it is heavily trimmed down. A lot of character moments are missing, several rangers don't get any speaking moments, and several things never get explained. A good example of that is at a point where Dr. K from RPM develops a way to help the rangers resist their powers getting stolen; and that's it, never says how.

Trini made new armor that was never explained



As you may have guessed, the story mode is fairly short with only 3 acts and 6 chapters in each one. Every chapter will give you some cutscenes and a different amount of fights in each chapter. As for the actual story, it is about an alternate timeline Tommy that stayed evil, had both the green and white ranger powers, and went by the name Drakkon. Drakkon destroyed both the Power Rangers and Rita of his own timeline and rules over everything. But, that much power isn't enough for Drakkon and he turns his attention to the multiverse where he kills or brainwashes rangers and steals their morphers in order to absorb more energy from the Morphin Grid with the goal of eventually becoming one with it. In short, a power hungry mad man version of the most popular Power Ranger. Naturally, the various remaining Power Rangers all ban together to stop Drakkon.

Finster-5 and alternate timeline Kimberly



On the hero's side, the story is mainly told through the Mighty Morphin team's perspective, but pretty much just Zordon, Alpha, Jason, and Kimberly. Good Tommy place a role only in the beginning and end and other rangers have smaller roles. Trini is around just to be the user of the new armor, Jen the Pink Ranger from Timeforce is introduced as important but her role pushed back pretty quickly, Udana from Mystic force and Kat the Cat Ranger from SPD also stick around as some of the main fighters. Lauren, the Red Samurai ranger appears in 1 cutscene but never fights. A lot of girl power. Doggie Kruger, the Shadow Ranger plays a big role in the story but is never played in game because his character was DLC. Billy and Zack only appear in 2 team shots of MMPR and do nothing the whole game and a few other rangers show up just to fight, get captured, and possessed to fight for the other side, even one of the 2017 movie rangers. Expect a lot of repeating opponents through the story mode, especially Goldar and Black Mammoth Sentries. (The black ranger turned into grunts.)






Many times, you will follow a fight with the exact same fight except you will be controlling the opposite side. Supper padding.


Megazords are mentioned briefly in story, but only exist as one more technic or background images. Goldar doubles as the villains megazord which does not always make sense.

Here is a case where you are fighting Goldar while he is fighting the SPD megazord in the background and also service as his own Megazord. But, Goldar had to be the villain megazord, it's not like Serpentera or Cyclopsis would have been viable options. 

Besides cutscenes, in-between fights do have some non-voiced dialog and they are pretty faithful to what the rangers were like. It is not much, but it was nice to see they put the effort into getting the few characters included faithful.



Overall, the story and writing are not bad, but they cut a lot of corners. The story from the comics that it is trying to tell is a great one, but this adaptation only decent. It is still nice to see the Boom Studio comic universe expanding to other forms of media, hopefully this little attempt will lead to future/better attempts.

Update: It is worth pointing out that there is extra story in the arcade mode for DLC characters. They don't have cutscenes, but they do have dialogue and pre-determined match-ups.




Gameplay


This is a 4 button 3 on 3 fighting game very similar to Dragonball Fighterz or Street Fighter. With the standard light and hard hits and combos, there is also a special meter for bigger attacks that goes up as you deal damage and a Megazord meter that increase when you take damage. The Megazord meter can be used for either counter attacks with 1 bar or having the Megazord assist you in battle.



Gameplay is easily the strongest part of this title by, it is very smooth, fun, easy to understand, and most importantly, not a button masher (as in it requires skill to get good at). Hit combos are simple and special moves are done with hitting 2 buttons at once which is not hard to get the hang of. There is a tutorial mode that, while lacking the replay feature that other games have, is fairly short and will help you get the hang of controls. Granted, I am no expert at fighting games; and I was never able to pull off the Megazord counter and I get air juggled a lot, I was noticeably better at the game from the start to the end of my story mode campaign. 




Every character is well defined too. Some are faster, some are slow but strong, and some are better at long range or close range combat. While everyone plays similar, there are enough differences between everyone that no one feels like a clones, unless you count alternate costumes like Tommy as White Ranger and the 2 different timeline Kimberly's. 



That being said, it is a less impressive feature when you realize how small the character roster is. 


Pre-DCL


After most of DLC

Once again, the game has cut corners. I didn't expect every ranger in history to be playable, but at least 1 from each team would have sufficed. On, top of that, there are only 5 stages and 5 Megazord backup choices. 




A lot of this games life depends on the multiplayer community and how popular it is. Single player is a limited experience without DLC. The story mode is only about 4-5 hours long and the arcade mode is just 7 fights. However, if you do buy DLC characters than some of them do have their own mini story mode within arcade mode. Although it is not a separate option, if you pick a character who has a campaign than it starts without warning and even ignores the other two characters that were selected.

As a whole, the gameplay is a lot of fun, but like writing, has a lot of corners cut and feels like an incomplete experience for the single player. Multiplayer is fun, but that has a lot to compete with in the fighting game world.

Audio


Music in this game is just stock soft rock, no Power Rangers themes are used. Voice overs are an interesting story. Some of the original cast reprised their roles like Jason David Frank as Tommy and David Fielding as Zordon. However, only the cutscenes are voiced unlike the dialogue in-between fights which included the DLC stories. It feels like they got as many original voices back as they can, but around the cast had fill ins. They do a good job even if most of them don't have cutscene roles, however there are a few voices that don't fit and their actors are little too familiar with other franchises. Although, can't really fault talent for having work variety. As a whole, audio has ups and downs but is passable.

Presentation


Visually, I find this game unappealing. As stated earlier, there are only 5 stages and they look decent, but even the Power Ranger fighting games on Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo had more stages than that. But, even with more variety in background, the art style isn't great. Cutscenes has this paining look that I thought looked terrible and the character models go for a comic book come to life approach which gives the rangers the same exaugurated physiques they had in the comics but photo realistic gloves for some reason. 




However, I will at least give credit for accuracy. All the playable rangers have the same fighting style they used in the show (and I assume the comics as well) and there is a fair amount of attention to detail with the few stages. I still wish Zords were featured more, at least in cutscenes. 

Final Thoughts


Power Rangers Battle for the Grid is a fun experience and has a lot of fan-service, but it also feels very in-complete. More than half the content (and growing) is reserved for DLC and not all of it is included in collectors editions. Every area of this game has either features or content where many corners were cut. The sad part is, I am not sure if this is just this game cutting corners, or the general direction that fighting games are moving in. Either way, the vanilla game is less than $20 now and DLC bundles go on sale frequently so, check it out if you are a big fan or fighting games, Power Rangers, or both. For everyone else, I'd give it a pass unless you are starved for a Power Ranger video game experience. There are better options for people just looking for a good cheap fighting game.

Writing - 6/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Audio - 3/5
Presentation - 2/5

Overall - 6.5/10

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