Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid has shown a lot of promise through its promotional run. Sadly, however, that’s about as much excitement as you’re going to get from the game. Battle for the Grid has been the center of attention among fans of the franchise for a number of months now, and why wouldn’t it be? The thought of a brand new mighty morphin fighter that takes us back to the roots of the series, and beyond, is enough to capture attention by concept alone. The reality, on the other hand, is that you’re likely to get more depth from a puddle.
When booting up the game, you’ll be taken to a clean and concise menu that offers up a selection of options. Here, you can take to ranked and casual matches, dive into the arcade mode, jump into local versus, hit the training area, soak up the tutorial, or browse and alter a few settings. It’s your straightforward affair for the most part. Ranked and casual matches need no introduction; a place in which you can take your fight to the internet and battle against other players from across the globe. Well, that’s what you would expect to get from these offerings.
Instead, you’re far more likely to be sat in a lobby as you constantly hit the search option in an attempt to find a match. Throughout my countless attempts, I was only ever able to find one single opponent, and that was after needlessly fighting three rounds against the CPU. Further to that, I had to fight the same opponent over and over, due to the utter lack of an online population. This isn’t what you would expect to see from a game of this type, at launch no less. What’s particularly frustrating about this is that the game is clearly built around online play.
This is apparent through the implementation of seasonal rank, and achievements that expect you to play up to one thousand games. Yes, you read that correctly. The developer clearly has too much faith in their product. Mercifully the performance of the game remained on point during my time with the only player I could find, but that means very little in face of the game’s more pressing issues. We’ll get to that shortly. When you give up waiting for a match, the game’s campaign (arcade) is likely where you’ll want to head to next, but things don’t fare better here.
When you select arcade, you’re given the option to choose from a small range of characters. Normally, you would expect a story per-character in the absence of an overarching plot, but here, you’ll get little more than a few lines of dialogue towards the end of a character’s run. Seriously, regardless as to who you play as, you’ll get very little in return. Roughly at around fight six (of seven in total), your samey-samey opponent will let out some quick dialogue before heading into the scrap. That’s about all you’ll get folks. What’s worse, none of it makes any sense.
It’s just been thrown in for the sake of it. On top of that, each and every character that you run through the campaign with gets a copy and paste pathway. There’s no distinction present whatsoever, save the final opponent that’s cherry picked as an antagonist against your selected fighter. The campaign takes little more than twenty minutes to run through, and despite a harsh difficulty spike during just one fight, you’re likely to breeze through it with no trouble at all. Should you struggle, I advise taking to the tutorial mode or the training mode to practice.
Though in truth, the complete lack of gameplay depth makes it far too hard to hit that proverbial brick wall. So much so, you’ll get a firm grasp as to how everything handles after just one fight. Should you want to take to the game’s local play, versus has you covered. Here, you can brawl against the CPU or another local player. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s exactly as you would expect it to be. You’re free to remap the input commands if you wish, but to the game’s credit, the controller layout is well enough as is. So, what’s the big problem?
The gameplay sucks. That’s what’s the problem. It’s not deep, it’s not balanced, and it’s not at all satisfying. Battle for the Grid is a three-team fighter. You’ll select three characters, and then dive on into the mode of choice. Once there, you’ll dish out standard attacks, special attacks, and heavy attacks until your opposition falls. This typically consists of blindly punching and kicking your foes into a corner as you build up a special gauge. When the gauge is full enough, you can trigger it to utilize a special attack; to which each character has their own unique output.
EX specials also us a fraction of this gauge, and allow to you enjoy a brief surge in power; giving you a few flashy moves and some slightly heightened damage output. Outside of that, you can summon the aid of either Dino Megazord, Mega Goldar, or Dragonzord. These dish out mass damage once per-fight. You’ll have the choice of which summon you want to use prior to each run or scrap. You can indeed swap between your three characters on the fly, or, briefly call the two reserve fighters in for some auto battle assistance several times per-fight.
There’s a few extra commands that you can tap into throughout, all of which is shown in the command’s menu, but you’ll rarely need to step outside of the realm of button mashing. The big drawback, however, is that regardless as to how you play or who you play as, the whole ordeal feels off. There’s no balance whatsoever on show, meaning that you’re free to use cheap tactics to get a cheap win at all times, as is your opponent. Juggling someone on the edge of the screen is easy work, and there’s no decent counter present to break free from these popular struggles.
The attack range is off too, being that some characters have an overly wide reach, and other characters the contrary. Sure, swapping between characters to pull out a more suitable fighter is the correct approach to take, but when you’re down to your last one, it’s really a case of kneeling down and taking your lashings. There’s no balance to found in the special attacks either; the majority of them will seemingly decide on the spur of the moment just how much life they want to sap from your enemy. That’s not to mention the towering summons.
These summons are huge, so big that you’ll never see them. Instead, a large tail will whip the screen, a big sword will shatter the ground, or a huge foot will stamp on your character. This can happen several times in rapid succession. There’s almost no way to avoid these attacks when you’re actively engaged in combat, meaning that you’re bound to lose a character or two through little more than poor design choices. Still, even with just one character out, it’s fairly simple to rely on those aforementioned cheap tricks to circumvent an incoming loss.
The sheer lack of depth and gameplay variation just doesn’t sit well in a time in which fighters are on the rise. That said, most fighters have the sense to include a deep story, a wealth of modes, and above all else, a robust foundation. Battle for the Grid doesn’t even include basic meaning. It’s a bland game with a boring and repetitive structure. The shame in all of this is that the whole ordeal is a missed opportunity. The developer could have taken this somewhere truly special, what with its cross-generation concept and its material’s vast lore.
Instead, what we have, and at very best, is a fighter that fails to provide much distinction across its roster. The little distinction in place is mostly a gateway to exploit, rather than to tactically differentiate gameplay. That, ladies and gents, is the crux of play. You’ll enter a mode, button mash your way to success, and then come out of it without any real sense of reward or worth. It’s a cheaply developed experience. I cant even commend the visual design. Whilst the game sports some decent character models, the maps, the effects, and everything in between is half baked.
I can say the same about the audio presentation, being that it does very little to maintain any excitement throughout. The whole affair is generic, with no voice support in place to lend it any much needed character. Sure, there’s replay value to be found in post-launch support and through unlocking new banners and improving stats via online play, but when the online is as empty as flushed toilet, what’s the point? If you’ve a great love for the franchise, you’re likely to pull more from this than most, but even then, you’re unlikely to enjoy it for long.
Make no mistake about it, Battle for the Grid is a cheaply developed cash grab that will sorely disappoint those fooled by its admittedly exciting promotional run. The game’s dull campaign takes little more than twenty minutes to complete, and once you’re done there, you’ll be waiting equally as long to find an online match. Whilst local play is indeed an option, I cant at all recommend it due to its shamefully weak, boring, and unbalanced gameplay.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.