I know about as much about One Piece as I do about Dragon Ball Z, which is to say that I know a few character names and some of the rough basics. Obviously, then, I’m exactly the right person to look at One Piece: Burning Blood‘s newly launched PC version.
Alas, this is a step back from Bandai Namco’s most recent PC port, the rather well-treated God Eater 2: Rage Burst. We’ll get to the specifics of why, but this is back to the territory of bare-bones port rather than a version crafted and updated specifically for the PC.
One Piece: Burning Blood itself is an arena fighting game, with characters battling each other one at a time, with the ability to tag others in as and when you like. It’s closest to the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series in terms of how it plays, with free movement around the arena and simple controls rather than complex multi-button combos. It’s also full of ludicrously over-the-top moves and short cinematics when particularly impressive attacks hit. It’s definitely a fan-pleaser rather than a hardcore fighting title, but I suspect fans will nonetheless be pleased.
One Piece: Burning Blood also marks the second PC port I’ve looked at this week which doesn’t have a launcher, though. I’m incredibly confused by this. Have we decided launchers are bad?
Right, so, the options. Here you are:
That one screen actually shows the Control, Screen, and Volume options, all of which are listed on the right. Note that there’s no option for audio language; you’re going to be playing with the Japanese audio, like it or not (although chances are that’s the vastly preferred option to having an enforced English dub). It’s worth having a look at the Screen Settings in more depth, though:
This is a really nice touch. The Screen Settings sub-menu actually takes you over to, y’know, an in-game screen, so you can see the immediate impact of every change you make. If you want to alter the camera distance or change the gauge positions, you can see exactly what it’ll look like in game. Top marks for that.
Fewer marks for the Graphic Settings sub-menu:
That’s your lot. The only resolution options available to me are 1280×720, 1600×900, and 1920×1080; I have no idea if it supports higher resolutions than that, but I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say “no”. It’s also locked at 30FPS, which annoys me more here than it did in the Naruto games for reasons we’ll get to.
Finally, the Keyboard Settings:
On the plus side, you can edit all of the keys to whatever you like. On the downside, it’s that awful “map a controller button directly to a keyboard button” crap. By default you’re using WASD as movement, OKL; as the face buttons, arrow keys as the D-pad, 8246 on the numpad as the right stick, and QEPI and Right-Ctrl as the shoulder buttons and right-stick click.
Those look utterly bloody awful at first glance, but they’re actually not as bad as you’d think. The right stick is basically never used and the arrow keys seem to be tied to support characters, so your hands are mostly in a fairly natural position in the left and right of the keyboard’s alphabet. It’s still worth redefining a few of them, but I’d actually say One Piece: Burning Blood is playable on keyboard. Not ideal, but playable.
Still, a gamepad is absolutely the way to go, not least because a lot of the special attacks and combinations rely on pressing multiple keys at once (you need to hold down one button, for instance, to switch all of your regular attacks to special attacks) and this stuff is far, far easier on gamepad than it is on keyboard. But if you’re desperate to play and for some reason don’t have a gamepad, you might be able to get by. I messed around with the keyboard for about 30 minutes, and it certainly wasn’t unplayable.
Graphically, I’ve got good and bad news. The good news is that One Piece: Burning Blood looks lovely. As ever, the anime style looks great simply because it’s an art style that doesn’t rely on ALL THE POLYGONS, and One Piece: Burning Blood uses a lovely hatching technique for its shading. Some stuff looks a little iffy (bits of scenery, like trees and ice shards, explode rather unconvincingly when you run into them) but it’s still a bit of a visual treat.
Less good is the 30FPS lock, which for whatever reason I can feel here far more than I could with Naruto. One Piece: Burning Blood just feels sluggish. Steam tells me it was running at a constant 30FPS, but it felt like it was constantly dropping lower than that. Let me put it like this: I started to wonder if it was actually just a ridiculously intensive game that was suffering minute frame drops, so I double-checked with FRAPS. FRAPS confirmed that the game is running at a constant 30FPS. Despite this, it still feels like it’s running lower.
I don’t know why this is, and I honestly don’t know enough about the way frames are displayed to even hazard a guess. All I can say is that if you’re usually bothered by 30FPS locks, this one is really going to bother you.
I’m not really able to talk about the online functionality, sadly. At launch the online servers were down (which probably isn’t much of a surprise). They were back up when I next checked, about 20 minutes later, but I didn’t have much luck finding a game. I repeatedly got matched up with one person, who… I think was away from his keyboard, because I’d sit in his room and he would never, ever accept and start the match. I gave up after about 10 minutes. Assuming that was a problem with that person and not the connection, it seems functional, but I’ve got no idea about how well it’ll hold up with lag, distance, and different connections.
Story-wise, One Piece: Burning Blood seems to be set during the Paramount War, which Google tells me is also called the “Marineford Arc.” I have literally no idea what that means, but it might mean something to you. I have no idea if it also includes any later arcs; I’d guess not considering that the story mode is called “Paramount War” (or something like that), but I can’t say for certain.
And then there’s the game. As ever, this isn’t a full review, but I’m not sure I can say much more than I said before: it’s aimed at the fans. It exists so that you can take control of your favourite characters from the series and have them punch the other characters with their famous attacks, and at this, it works admirably. It doesn’t feel like it’s got as much to it as the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, but that might just be because I’m totally unfamiliar with One Piece. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with One Piece, but it might just scratch that itch for the fans.
It does have the usual smattering of game modes, at least, with Story, Free Battle (read: Versus), and Online all present and correct, as well as some sort of grand pirate battle which I’m assuming is a bit like Mortal Kombat X‘s faction thing, with each player signing up to a faction and their wins counting towards their faction. You’ve also got various Training options, as well as a set of Wanted Posters. These set you against particular opponents with particular conditions, with the plan apparently being to add new, limited-time ones every now and then.
These are gated behind the Story Mode, but not by much; even if you’re not skipping the cutscenes, you’ll likely unlock all of these within about 30 minutes. Characters themselves seem to get unlocked throughout the story and its bonus missions (unlocked by achieving certain conditions during battles), although you can also unlock them for cash earned in your fights, so nothing seems to be gated too heavily.
The port itself, then, is very much a bare-bones one. It seems to cap out at 1080p and 30FPS, a gamepad is highly recommended, and it has very little scalability. It looks like the PC version is equivalent to the console versions – but it certainly doesn’t appear to be an improvement, and it certainly doesn’t appear to have had any special tweaks to make it more at home on the PC.