Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late (Review) Playstation 3

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late (Review) Playstation 3
Review Score:

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late has a long history that extends as far back as 2012, when 2D fighting games were seeing a revival of sorts in modern gaming. Sega of Japan was responsible for releasing an arcade version of Under Night In-Birth Exe on September 20th, 2012, in Japanese arcades. The game featured a new cast of characters and a story that used a modern-day fantasy twist.

A major software revision was then released for the arcade version, changing the name of the game to Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late. It was later announced that Arc System Works would port Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late to Playstation 3 on July 24th, 2014 in Japan, followed by a Western release sometime in early 2015. After months of anticipation, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late finally arrived in the West.

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late

Co-developed by French-Bread and Arc System Works, Under Night is a hybrid 2D fighting game that uses a visual novel concept for its cinemas and character interactions. It’s a marriage of two genres that is difficult to imagine, but somehow works surprisingly well. (But then again, French-Bread has already done something similar with their highly-acclaimed fighter, Melty Blood, which originally appeared on both PC and Playstation 2.)

While most fighting games provide a Story Mode to compliment the all-too-familiar Arcade mode, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late takes a different approach by incorporating both concepts into a single game mode. When the game starts, your fighter of choice reflects on their back story before embarking on a pilgrimage consisting of fists, feet and outlandish combos. The visual novel segments are far from intrusive, as they are limited to only a couple of minutes.

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late

It should be noted that Under Night is nothing like Guilty Gear. The game contains a beefy roster of  sixteen fighters, all ranging from sword-wielding females to more traditional martial artists. The characters themselves are original with their own unique list of special moves. For Example: Eltnum is a female martial artist that uses a tripwire as her long-range weapon. Like every fighter in Under Night’s roster, Eltnum relies on combos to substantial damage her foes. Carmine – a fighter that resembles Freeman from SNK-PLAYMORE’s Garou: Mark of the Wolves for Neo-Geo – uses a variety of long-range attacks that range from blade saw projectiles to ground-based Blood Shards.

Since every fighter possesses some form of long-range attack, it’s difficult to play an offensive match without losing (especially if you’re a ‘jumper’ that likes to start your combos with jump kicks or aerial projectiles). Matches are better played on terra firma, where both players can exchange blows equally. This results in a defensive-style of play, where turtling takes precedent. It’s not uncommon for a player to block a combo, retaliate with their own, and then retreat to a corner of the play field ad nauseam. Gamers that like to play offensively will find themselves adapting to the game’s slower place, especially during online mash ups (more on this in a moment).

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late

The game provides an insane amount of combos for the player to learn. Luckily, the combo system is designed for players of skill levels. A novice player would be best served by starting the game with Merkava — he’s a supernatural being with spindly, long arms, and he happens to be one of the easiest fighters to learn. His rapid punches, aerial attacks and anti-air grabs make him a formidable foe in the arena. But most of all, his combos are easy to learn and they deal a tremendous amount of damage.

When you’re finished with Arcade mode, you can take your game online and challenge the many gamers that make up Under Night’s community. Online competition is fierce, as Player made lobbies fill up rather quickly after being created. Ranked Matches are just as challenging, but it’s difficult to find a consistent amount of competition. The majority of Under Night’s community uses the Player Match feature.

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late

With that being said, gamers looking for a true, hardcore 2D fighter will find that and more in Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late by developer French Bread. It has all the right gameplay elements to make it an instant classic with veteran gamers everywhere.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 3
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: French Bread
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $39.99

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late Official Website

Review Score
Stunning 2D graphics that are complimented by high-quality animation.
Professional Japanese voice acting used throughout.
Hardcore 2D fighting at its finest.
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late is one fighter you shouldn't miss.
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