UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r] - Launch Trailer
Who it Caters to
Fighting games are in somewhat of a complicated timeframe at the moment, with so many being out on the market and players not really knowing which one(s) suit their needs. You have the more realistic fighting styles of Tekken 7, and on the other end of that spectrum, there are the fast-paced and chaotic anime fighters like Dragon Ball FighterZ that are slowly becoming the norm. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] however finds itself fit snuggly between these two avenues, as it incorporates straightforward gameplay with fantastic mechanics, along with enough depth and action to keep fighting game fans immersed for hours. It’s not too fast to overwhelm you and not too realistic that it contains way too many moves that require memorization, it’s well-executed in a delightful way. The series, for many years, has been overshadowed by various other popular fighters like the ones we’ve already mentioned, along with the iconic Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear, among many others. So Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is 2020’s latest gem and our only question is, will it continue to shine on for many more? Keep reading to find out.
What to Expect
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is the latest version to the popular Under Night In-Birth series, which continues to thrive in various ways due to its attractive cast of characters, all of whom have their own unique fighting styles and mechanics to utilize. Those who have dabbled with the previous installment Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] will easily come to realize that much of cl-r is very much the same on the surface in terms of visuals, albeit a plethora of changes in terms of character balance, additional moves, as well as the new character Londrekia. The popular Chronicle Mode for the more casual player has also received an update which is a plus in that regard. Those who already own the previous installment will receive Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] as a free update, while a standalone version is available for players who are picking it up for the first time.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] remains largely untouched in the visual area, albeit a few tweaks here and there for overall presentation purposes. The menu screen once you jump in is organized, and players new to the game can easily sift through each option to find what they’re looking for. As we typically play Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] in the arcade, there didn’t seem to be any major standout differences compared to the console version, so in the end, as we said, just some quality of life changes in this department which is a plus. We should mention however that the new intro to the game is perhaps one of the main changes, which looks spectacular and comes with a brand new theme song titled, “False Infinite Parallel.”
Everything regarding sound, much like its visuals, remain very much the same. The addition of both the new intro and theme for Londrekia is a nice treat, but every other character in the game hasn’t received anything special in this area. At times it did seem like a lot of attacks came with a different sound effect when connecting with opponents, like Enkidu’s newly improved 66C (pretty much forward > forward C) but maybe that’s just us. The menu theme is still the same and no new additions made to character voicing which can be seen as good or bad, depending on the perspective of the person. Some change is always good but when a game is already so well polished, there really isn’t any need to ruin the experience.
That brings us to the gameplay, the most important aspect when playing fighting games and the main focal point of this review. Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] as we mentioned earlier, is the expansion from late[st] and comes with a variety of new options for players already well-versed in the game to take advantage of. Think of it as extra icing on the already delicious cake and you get to gobble all of it up at your own pace. Enkidu has been my main character since late[st] and was very notorious for being arguably the worst character in that iteration. The main reason was that his moves didn’t allow for consistent pressure and thus, his options to stay glued to his opponents were limited, especially against the more offensive-heavy characters like Seth, Yuzuriha, Phonon, and more. Enkidu is a character that specializes in hard reads and pressuring his opponents once he gets close enough to establish control.
Now in Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] Enkidu feels like an entirely different beast, with his aforementioned 66C granting him an enormous amount of pressure on block, and helping him to extend his combos for more damage. A lot of his moves now are plus on block and hit which once again allow him to maintain pressure once he’s in your face, and deal enormous amounts of damage. Happy times for all Enkidu mains! We can’t speak for all characters however but we can imagine that players and their respective main characters will come to discover that the balance changes were either in their favor or not.
The training mode for all characters still looked and felt very much the same, with the exception of Londrekia since he’s, of course, the new addition. For new players, this training mode is hands down one of the best in any fighting game, as it presents players with a general breakdown of what each move does, an explanation about mechanics, and missions for players to take advantage of in order to learn combos and develop muscle memory.
The main issue with Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] however, and this is universal among most fighting games on the market currently, is its online functionality, or lack thereof. Firstly, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] remains largely untouched in this area which surprised us because, for a major update like this, we’d expect things like a much-needed lobby system, a more sophisticated search algorithm for consistent player matches, and most importantly a smooth connection. We tested our connection from Japan to other parts of the world and while 8 frames is certainly a huge step forward from the previous 10-11 frames we endured in the previous installment, 8 is still absurd and unacceptable. Japan to Japan was definitely tweaked for the better and we had a much better experience in that regard, but overall we still felt the online infrastructure for Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] was lacking.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
For a game with so much potential and a cast of characters that feel organic in every way, online always seems to rear its ugly head and reminds us that fighting games still need better netcode. Fortunately, the creator of Under Night In-Birth did state that GGPO was an option to implement since it’s now on the market as free-to-use, so hopefully, we’ll see some improvements in the future. Other than that, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] is a must-have fighting game for those entering the scene due to its easy learning curve, fantastic tutorials, great Chronicle Mode, and some of the best music you’ll ever hear in fighting games.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] still looks and feels the same which is a plus, because the game has always performed well.
The new upgrades to characters with additional moves was an extra bonus we’re happy to accept!
Chronicle Mode received a nice improvement and casual players coming into the game can use it to develop an understanding of the lore.
It’s 2020, please get it right with online matchmaking please. No sophisticated lobby systems are why newer players often leave the scene, because it’s hard to find players at their level.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r], in spite of its lack of online features, plays incredibly well offline in a tournament setting where it shines wonderfully. Not taking any extra risks to make unnecessary changes was a very smart move, only throwing in a few updates to give the game a fresh feel. In the end, we’re totally happy with Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] and look forward to watching it at EVO 2020 this year, where it will officially be on the main stage! Until next time!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!