Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is the first game in the series to be based on the ‘Gun Gale Online’ game from the novel and TV series. The fantasy setting has been replaced with a dark, grim apocalyptic setting that focuses on the uses of guns instead of hand to hand combat. With this comes a new style of gameplay, not seen before in the SAO series of video games.
This time around you’re not forced to play as Kirito but instead, a custom made character who will be the main focus of the game’s story. It’s a decent enough character creation mode with enough eye styles and haircuts that’ll make your character look unique compared to the rest of the SAO cast. It’s something the series has needed for a good time now and it works like a treat. It’s not long before your shooting enemies and building up those experience points thanks to a very detailed tutorial section. At first, it feels like you’re being overloaded with information but it all pays off once you’re on your own. The whole SAO cast you’ve come to love, or hate, are in the game but this time they’re not the centre focus of the game’s story.
Gameplay is your basic third-person shooter but with enough added elements, making it feel fresh and fast-paced making for a fun experience. The most important one being an auto-lock mode as long as you have the enemy in your sight. I can see quite a few people being put off by this but you can zoom into the enemy for more precise aim so there’s always that option available for players but you’ll find yourself switching between the two depending on each situation you end up in. The game likes to throw a large number of enemies at you but your not alone in this adventure. Up to three extra party members can be selected and you have the full selection of SAO characters to choose from – each having their own benefits in battle depending on your playstyle.
Progression is mission-based and focuses on the growth of your character as you start as a new player who’s been invited by a friend. There’s the option of progressing the story at your own pace so there’s plenty of room for taking on side quests or simply grinding for experience and money. There are plenty of RPG elements mixed in with the shooting game genre so fans won’t feel completely lost in this new environment. With that said, it’s difficult in saying if players unfamiliar with the SAO franchise would find full enjoyment out of everything this game has to offer. It’s good to keep in mind though that the game doesn’t expect you to have a full understanding of the source material so I wouldn’t say no against new players wanting to give Fatal Bullet a play.
Fatal Bullet is a good looking game, with the presentation at it’s all-time best for the series. I’d say that’s mainly because there’s no Vita version this time around so the current-gen consoles are the main focus. Character models have never looked this good, with plenty of colour and style. The setting isn’t anything special but it does the job for an apocalyptic setting that suits the game just fine.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is easily the best SAO game to date. Gameplay is fun and there’s enough on offer so don’t be worried if you don’t think you’d be getting your money’s worth. Fans of the franchise will be pleased with how well the source material is being treated in video game format, where previous titles might have been a letdown.
Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment