Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid – Xbox One Review
I hear that fans of the franchise have been eagerly looking forward to Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid for a while now. If they were expecting a game that was a throwback to a time when arcade fighters were a frantic explosion of button mashing and remembering endless combinations of moves, then they might be in for a treat; however if there were expecting a more modern take with good characterisation, depth, storytelling and hours of entertainment value, they’ll wish they hadn’t got their hopes so high
Starting the game for the first time was full of promise, with a nice opening sequence and a simple clean menu, giving you the choice to play casual or ranked games, try local versus mode with a friend, get stuck into the arcade mode, work through the tutorial or go to the training area to practise your moves. Its all pretty straight forward, and the game seems geared up to getting you online to play human opponents, and here is the crux of the problem with a game like this. You need a large number of players online ready to play for good matchmaking, and this just isn’t the case here, so I found long periods of time either stuck in a lobby waiting for someone to turn up, or coming up against the same one or two players again and again. When a game is focused around online play like this, a lock of players is a real killer blow to building up a community. The good news when I did find an online opponent was there was no drop in speed or lag which is important with a game that relies on sharp reflexes.
Unless you have plenty of experience of this type of game, the tutorial and practise modes are a good place to start to get used to the fighting before you tackle the arcade mode, as it can be pretty unforgiving for novice players. Arcade mode has you select 3 characters from a small pool, with more unlocking later before sending you off to your tag match. With a franchise as strong as Power Rangers and a plethora of well established characters to pick from, you’d really expect there to be a decent story-line to move the action along. Unfortunately very little in the way of a plot materialises, other than a little bit of dialogue from your opponents towards the latter stages of the match.
It doesn’t matter what characters you choose to play as, you path through this mode will be the same, and its only when you get to your final fight that you’ll be pitched against an opponent that’s as close to your characters arch enemy as you can get. For players with a modicum of skill in these fighting games, the arcade mode might be satisfying short, with a playthrough of 7 match ups taking only about 25-30 minutes.
The most most I got out of Battle for the Grid was in the versus mode, playing against a mate, as it didn’t matter how good or bad we were, as with the right amount of button mashing you could still have a fun fight. The controls are fairly intuitive which helps you get a feel of the characters and their movement quite quickly, and if you’re not comfortable you are free to remap the commands to suit.
The graphics are adequate if unspectacular, the frame rate of the animation is poor for an xbox game, with the jerky movements that remind your of an 1980’s arcade fighter. The backgrounds again are unspectacular without being poor, but just lack any kind of wow factor. The audio doesn’t fare much better, it just all sounds so generic with nothing that stands out from the crowd.
The main problem I had with Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid was a complete lack of depth or balance. There are 3 types of attack, your normal, special and heavy attacks which you just try to string together ad infinitum until you win the game. It’s the kind of game we were playing 20 years ago, and unless you’re deliberately making a retro remake, we expect much more from games today. Button mashing can beat anyone with skill half the time, and cheap shots are easy to exploit with very little and opponent can do about it. Once your opponent is hitting you up in the air, juggling you with attack after attack, there no counter you can really deploy and the game is up. It just leads to a very unsatisfactory gaming experience whether you are winning or losing, and things get stale very quickly.
A lack of a decent story when you have such a vast backlog o lore to draw on is a real missed opportunity and even the most ardent Power Rangers fans must feel let down by the developers in this respect. Battle for the Grid is an unsophisticated fighter, a throwback to the genesis of the genre instead of a progression of it. There is little in the way of variety across the roster of fights and the whole thing seems to have an air of basic competence but the no effort to go the extra yard to make something memorable that you’ll want to come back and play again and again.
Die-hard fans of Power Rangers are likely to purchase Battle for the Grid regardless, but I’d be surprised if they play it for very long. As for anyone looking for a memorable new fighting game, I’d advise you swerve this effort and look elsewhere.
Developer: nWay, Inc
Publisher: nWay Inc
Many Thanks to Spark PR for the review copy.