Sword Art Online is an anime that took the world by storm in 2012. The series revolves around players who are trapped in a popular World of Warcraft styled video game called Sword Art Online. The players unknowingly become trapped within the virtual reality video game, and must beat the final boss in order to return to the normal world. The catch is, if you die in the game, your physical body also dies as well. Sword Art Online is a wonderful anime, full of twists, turns, intrigue, and a fantastic cast of characters. The upcoming Bandai Namco game, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is not only a third-person shooter set in the anime’s universe, it’s also the first installment to be released on Xbox One.
Title: Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: February 23rd, 2018
The Sword Art Online video game franchise adopted an action adventure style, which took some cues from Monster Hunter. While those games are fun, there’s something lacking. The story isn’t as good as the anime, despite being canonical. Apart from that issue, the gameplay is fun and engaging. It’s awesome to quest with popular characters from the anime.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet tries to deviate from the traditional games in the franchise. Instead of a hunting creatures type game, Fatal Bullet features tight third-person gunplay, dodging, and team-based combat. As you can see in the trailer above, combat appears to be fast, and fluid. There are also RPG elements as well. The game is inspired by the Gun Gale Online story arc from the second series in the anime, Sword Art Online II. In addition to being able to play alone, you can team up with friends to battle against rival players online.
There are so many things that could work in the game’s favor. The basic concept of the anime makes for a wonderful game. I mean, the characters themselves are stuck in a video game that we would play. The fact that Bandai/Namco and developer Dimps, have decided to drastically change of this installment’s style is a step in the right direction. Sequels usually take the same concepts and just improve on them. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet retains the RPG elements, but does a complete 180 and attempts to provide players with a completely new experience that should please fans of the anime and game franchise as well.
Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong with a videogame adaptation of a popular franchise. Just like film tie-ins, playing a licensed game is usually a gamble. The Metacritic score for the series is also okay at best, with the franchise having an average score of 66. Despite the fact that the games have had a lukewarm reception, they are popular and have a loyal following. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet seems like it could take the franchise to new heights, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was only “okay.”
With a doubt, the game will succeed. The reception honestly doesn’t matter. There is a fanbase for this series and those people will purchase the games. Some people say that anime games have a niche following, and while that may be true, that group is loyal. There obviously is a reason why Bandai/Namco keeps making these titles. That’s because enough copies are sold to warrant a sequel. Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet looks like it’s set to revitalize the franchise, and I for one can’t wait to start playing on February 23rd.