Alright, as a student of the english school system I'm always tempted to write a big informative essay when I write a game review, no less than 2000 words, no more than 5000 words with at least one reference to scones and/or tea, but I'm not gonna do that for this game. No, my single statement review for this game:
"DON'T BUY IT!"
that's it, I'm not gonna write anymore. Alright maybe just a bit. Let me at least start by saying that I really like the Bleach franchise, in fact it's one of the only recent animes I like along with things like Full Metal Alchemist. Bleach strikes me as a property that should be really easy to make into a game, it's got a lot of action, a lot of characters to work with, a lot of skills and moves, it's all there for the taking. How is it then, that somebody managed to screw up Bleach: The Shattered Blade?
One of the things this game boasts is a brand new storyline, set just after the Soul Socitey arc (which I watched again to make sure I wasn't missing anything). It involves all the characters in some desperate situation or another, Ichigo wants to go home, Renji thinks his sword is dying etc... So someone comes to them and tells them that the only way to solve their problem is to gather the shards of the Sokyoku blade that was shattered during Rukia's execution. That's about it, you then go around beating up other characters in order to take their shards and I don't mean to spoil the big dramatic twist at the end but it turns out that some bad guy was tricking you and just wanted the Sokyoku shards for himself. You kill the boss and then nothing really comes of it, I know fighting games are generally allowed to have flimsy stories but that sets a new standard.
Aside from the story mode, the game also has an arcade mode consisting of about 8 fights, all of which drag on far too long. There's some concept art and sound test options and an Urahara shop that sells a bunch of things that are terribly uninteresting. The game has a decent roster of characters from the Soul Society arc but only some can be played in story mode and most of them have to be unlocked. The characters are poorly balanced and their movesets are terribly unvaried. Overall it's a fair amount of breadth with next to no depth.
Gameplay generally consists of waving the Wiimote around like a moron until your character runs out of energy, at which point you have to run away and let it recharge, rinse and repeat. Okay so it's got a few more factors than that, you can also hold the A button for a heavy unblockable attack and the B button for a special attack. Sometimes clashes occur where you have to wave the wiimote in a certain way in a rock, paper, scissors style contest, but the wiimote is terrible at registering your commands and it mostly seems random anyway. You also have a bankai guage which charges as you attack and get attacked but you can also charge manually by shaking the nunchuck. The bankai gauge allows you to switch to a more powerful form with stronger and different special attacks, most of which are very overpowered. In a lot of cases fights can boil down to whoever gets their bankai gauge charged first being the winner.
The graphics in the game are okay, but a little underwhelming. Most of the main characters look good and special effects on moves are decent enough but it all looks rather bland. Some characters don't translate well to 3D or just look kind of silly, like they were an after thought. Backgrounds are pretty unvaried and most of them are very very bland, with little to no activity in them at all. The game isn't really painful to look at, but it is mostly very boring and dull.
The sound is passable, the entire voice cast from the show is on hand to lend their voices although a few of them sound like they might just be there to get a paycheck. The music is about what you'd expect but it's entirely forgettable, no tracks really stand out and it all just has a general blandness to it.
Overall Bleach: The Shattered Blade feels like a game I should recommend to fans only, but I really don't think I can reccommend it to anyone. I'm a Bleach fan and the game almost put me to sleep on multiple occassions. This year there are already so many AAA class fighting games worthy of your attention that Bleach: The Shattered Blade can and should be safely overlooked. Even if you only own a Wii, just hang on until Tatsunoko vs Capcom, you'll be glad you did. If you absolutely must play this game I can only suggest renting it like I did, but even then it's just not pleasant to play, your time is truly better spent elsewhere.