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Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight
Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Artdink
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Anytime I think the Sword Art Online hype has died down, it ambushes me out of nowhere with something new. This time, theyíll be sharing the spotlight in Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight. Try saying that title five times fast.

While not on a major console, the PlayStation Vita handles the game well. The characters and background both look fine, but donít expect the best graphics youíve ever seen. The environments are pretty simplistic, but the game features a ton of enemies on screen at any time. No, seriously. There are A LOT of enemies popping up randomly. Your mini-map will be more red dots than anything else. Your focus will probably be on the hordes of enemies rather than the environment, but I personally prefer that. This simplicity carries over into the story progression. Rather than cutscenes, the story progression is largely handled in the form of 2D characters talking over some backdrop. This format is seen quite often, and to me, itís a welcome familiar sight.

One of my favorite things about the soundtrack is the use of jazzy music in the calm areas. I love tracks that give off that vibe due to how soothing it is. Out in the field, youíll be treated to more heroic and adventurous tracks as you chop your way through enemies. The voice acting is done in Japanese, which is par for the course. With certain franchises, Iím usually fonder of the Japanese voice acting, and that holds true for this game. Weíve got subtitles, so it isnít a big deal.

When I read the title, I was expecting a fighting game featuring characters from the Sword Art Online universe and the Accel World universe, but that is not what this game is. Itís more of a crossover mashup featuring characters from both worlds in one game. Players are tasked with exploring the virtual realm of ALO and stopping a bunch of baddies that are trying to ruin everything. Youíre basically eliminating the trolls who are trying to ruin the game for everyone else, like a moderator. Yeah, a moderator.

If youíve played any previous Sword Art Online titles, youíll be very comfortable stepping into this game. The controls are largely the same as Sword Art Online: Lost Song and many mechanics return from that title. Players take control of the character of their choice and experience the virtual world through their eyes. The gameplay is largely like an MMORPG, staying true to the SAO and Accel World feel. Your teamís stats are shown in the top left corner and youíll notice the characterís names along with their Health gauge (green), Magic gauge (blue), and Stamina gauge (yellow). The mini-map is shown in the top right to help avoid getting lost, and you can summon a larger map by pressing the Start button. You can also view your team, quests, items, data and game configurations from the Start Menu.

The controls vary slightly depending on whether youíre in the town or out in the field. Players can move their character with the Left Stick and rotate the camera with the Right Stick. In the field, Light attacks are performed with the (Square) button, Heavy attacks are mapped to (Triangle), the (X) button allows you to jump, and the (Circle) button allows you to perform a quick evasive step or interact with field objects. You can also tap on the right side of the screen to lock on to foes so you donít lose track of them. In town, youíll only be able to run, jump, and interact with people or objects. Hey, you donít need to be attacking the townspeople anyway.

With two casts of characters, itís reasonable to expect that they wonít behave the same. The casts of SAO and AW have some differences between them to avoid each character feeling cookie cutter. Granted, everyone has fairly unique skills to give a different experienced, depending on who you would like to play. Most of the SAO cast have the ability to fly by pressing a command on the D-pad. Unfortunately, most of the AW characters cannot fly. This makes airborne combat a little tricky if you have, say, two SAO characters and only one AW character on the field. Flight also allows the character to perform an Accel Drive by pressing the Right Bumper and (X), giving the character breakneck flight speeds. At max speed, you can perform an Accel Drive attack, a special move which deals high damage. To make up for the lack of flight, the AW characters have access to a high jump, which can be executed by holding down the (X) button. In addition, they also have the Accel Move, which allows them to immediately close in and attack their target. This is activated by pressing (Square) and (X) together. Despite their differences, both casts have their own strengths, and each character has even more niche strengths and weaknesses. The key is to learn both and strike a good balance between the virtual and accel worlds.

In true MMO fashion, AW vs SAO: Millennium Twilight features various status ailments. Players can be afflicted with Poison, Fatigue, Seal, Curse, Confuse, Dazzle, Paralysis, Sleep, Bind, and Stun which will impair your characters abilities in some fashion. Poison deals damage over time, Fatigue drains the SAO crewís MP, Seal disables skills, Curse halves healing and doubles damage you take, Confuse causes attacks to damage allies, Dazzle causes attacks to miss, and Paralysis, Sleep, Bind and Stun will leave you unable to take actions. Status ailments will fade over time, but you can use items or skills to rid yourself of them faster.

Donít worry, they didnít forget about damage types. Everything in the game, including your characters, deal some specific form of damage. The damage types are Slashing, Crushing, Piercing, Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Holy, and Dark. Each opponent will be weak to or strong against one or multiple of the damage types and youíll have to change which damage you deal accordingly to defeat them. The SAO crew can simply change their weapons or cast different spells to change their damage type, but the AW crew are each assigned innate damage types and cannot change up what damage they deal so easily. Fortunately, you can try different attack skills to dish out a different damage type, so if youíre fond of the AW crew, just try using different spells to handle different enemies.

Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight features three difficulty modes for players to choose from. The first is Easy and itís, uh, pretty easy. Enemies are much easier to defeat since they deal less damage and take more. As a consequence, the items they drop are pretty subpar. Normal is the default difficulty. Itís pretty average across the board, with enemies still dropping pretty easily, but bosses pose more of a challenge. This is probably the best difficulty to enjoy the game with since it provides a decent enough challenge, but isnít too oppressive. The last difficulty is Hard and enemies won't be going down as easily as youíd like them too, but donít count it out. Enemies on Hard have a much better drop table and drop rate, so youíll be able to get some really cool stuff from defeating them. It makes all that mindless grinding worth it, sort of.

Game Mechanics:
To be a skilled player, one must master numerous tricks to gain the advantage over their foes and rivals. Honestly, itís not that serious, but knowing some of the mechanics present in Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight will definitely help down the road. One of the most useful mechanics is the Skill Connect feature. Usually, using a skill will leave you unable to immediately move or perform an action, but with Skill Connect, you can avoid the cooldown time and strike again. To Skill Connect, just perform another skill immediately after the first. Youíll get a pop-up that says "Skill Connect!" and perform the second skill. Some skills donít chain as quickly as others, so try experimenting with different skills.

Developing strategies on the fly is my favorite aspect of a game, and being able to make my characters do what Iíd like helps this goal. Players are able to switch characters on the fly by tapping the right side of the screen and pressing the Right Bumper. You can change between your party members at will however many times youíd like, but thereís an even better way. Pressing (Circle) and (Triangle) together performs a Switch Attack, where your current character will charge forward and strike, followed by another character jumping in. Youíll then be in control of the new character and can follow up with other attacks. This is incredibly useful for combo attacks, but keep note of the Switch gauge above the mini-map in the top right. You can only perform this action if the gauge is full. Fortunately, it is easily filled by attacking enemies.

Customization plays a big role in the game, even more so for the SAO characters. Players can equip a Main weapon, a Sub weapon, Ring, Necklace, Amulet, and some Outfit to their characters. These will change certain attributes about the character and youíll need better equipment if you want to become more powerful. You can equip new items by going to the Start Menu or by visiting a Maintenance Booth, found out in the field and in the city. New equipment can be acquired by defeating foes or buying it from shops. Players should also keep in mind that on the Hard difficulty, enemies drop some high quality equipment. The AW characters can equip Enhanced Armaments, items that provide various benefits such as increased stats or added effects on regular attacks, depending on the equipment. To get more mileage out of any of your equipment, visit a blacksmith and enhance your equipment using materials found in the field. Once you enhance it to its limit, try transforming your weapons and equipment to make them even more powerful. Craft excellent gear and unleash havoc upon your foes!

Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight is exactly the kind of crossover fans of Reki Kawahara were waiting for. All their favorite video game playing virtual warriors in one game, working together to achieve peace in the virtual world. Unfortunately, the game will probably only appeal to fans of either or both series. The game is pretty standard and doesnít really bring anything new worth raving over to the table to attract fans. Alongside that fact, thereís not many people out there that are on the fence in their relationship with Sword Art Online or Accel World. You either love it or absolutely hate it. That aside, the game does feel very nice and captures the elements fans of both series would love to see, even if it steers closer to the SAO side rather than the AW side. Gameplay is solid and simple, so players wonít have to work too hard to jump into the game. Another plus is how quickly the game shoves you into the action. There is no "Oh hey, Iím this person and I do this, and this is why Iím important." By this point, youíre probably already familiar with the characters, or else you wouldnít be playing the game. To sum it up, if youíre a fan, youíll love this game and get a great deal of mileage out of it. If youíre not, you might want to save your dollars for another game thatís coming out.

-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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