The long awaited crossover on Reki Kawahara's stories. In case you didn't know Accel World takes place around 20 to 30 years after Sword Art Online. The game's system is based on the system found in Lost Song rather than Hollow Realization.
The plot of story takes place some time after Lost Song in the Sword Art Online games and when Haruyuki is still possessed by Chrome Disaster in Accel World. There is suddenly an announcement about server maintenance, which seems odd. Kirito decides to investigate because Yui has been acting strange. As a result, Yui is captured by a strange woman with a mask. With her is a strange metallic android, who then fights Kirito. It is revealed that the woman with the mask deceived the metallic android who suddenly stands down as an enormous monster appears. The metallic woman reveals herself to be Kuroyukihime, who hides her face until it is revealed that she is from the future and did not want to influence the past. In this world, the avatars of the Accelerated World can earn burst points easily and can be equipped like armor. Kirito and Kuroyukihime work together to bring their allies together. They discover that their two worlds are being combined by someone further into the future.
In order to access the other areas, they must collect orbs, one of each belonging to the Kings of the Accelerated World. These orbs are earned by defeating their duplicates. It is eventually revealed that the woman they have been chasing all along is someone who goes by Persona Vabel. In reality, she is a future version of Yui that has been disillusioned by the world. She eventually chooses to sacrifice herself so that the Yui of the past has a chance to not become like her. In order to make this possible, both the people of Sword Art Online and Accel World promise to try to make the world a better place.
Unfortunately, this is still primarily a Sword Art Online game and their characters completely overshadow the ones from Accel World. The people of Accel World are simply bystanders caught in a Sword Art Online plot.
The graphics of the game varies greatly depending on the system you play it on. It looks great on the PC and the PS4 and is passable on the Vita. The good thing about using the Lost Song engine is that enemies do not spawn until you are near and do not get stuck in random objects like they did in Hollow Realization. The environment is not as detailed as in Hollow Realization, but it works out well here because of the game's story fusing the two worlds. Ironically, it helps things look far more out of the place and it is more jarring because of that difference, even if it was unintentional. Other than that, the game could have benefited from a little more polish on the backgrounds. The characters themselves look alright and there are some costumes that can be unlocked Sadly, they do not offer more, so customization is very limited.
The biggest problem with the game right away is the length of the game. For an RPG, this game is very short. The game is padded out with long dungeons, but it ultimately does not help because you know it is padding. The long flights of stairs and walls of enemies they tell you not to fight early on reflects this. The game just becomes head to the correct dungeon, talk to people, fight a boss, repeat. If you know what to do, you can probably breeze through this game in about 5 or 6 hours. The game still provides a decent enough of a challenge with the bosses and some of the later enemies in the game.
The game is fairly simplistic with a basic combo and sword skills that you unlock as you level up. Your starting level is 100 and it caps out at 1000. Each character has to be leveled individually as well. The good part is that characters are available very early on and you have a large selection. The problem is that the Accel World characters are at a severe disadvantage due to the lack of flight and the need to destroy objects to use their stronger abilities while Sword Art Online characters function based on cooldown with sword skills. As interesting as the Accel World characters are, this one big difference makes it hard to enjoy the Accel World characters as their special abilities are much more limited. Luckily, the system makes it easy to combo a lot of skills together and many of the Sword Art Online characters can use multiple weapons to provide some diversity. The ability to chain skills together is pretty good at least and without the need to rely on stupid AI that can't heal and get stuck in the walls like what happens in Hollow Realization, it actually feels more satisfying.
The game's plot advancement is based on individual events triggered at certain areas. It's not always clear, but it is marked with an exclamation mark somewhere on the map. Occasionally, NPCs will tell you to go to a certain map, but you will have to find out other things yourself once you get there and it is not always clear. If there is no exclamation mark, there is just a giant M that also helps point you in the general direction as it is a save point. The dungeons are rather small, but they serve their purpose. Its just a shame that they use a few of them to just throw crap at you all the time. You also have to trigger these events to unlock new items at the shop.
Unlike Lost Song, there is also a bit of grind in this game. Enemies provide far lower experience and you need to collect numerous materials to train up Lisbeth so that she can upgrade better items. It's just something I found as unnecessary and the game could have done better without since replacement items come fairly quickly due to the story's poor pacing. You will clear the game by level 600, but the post game stuff goes beyond that and you can better focus on min maxing then rather than bothering with her in the early game.
Final Score: 6/10
The game fails to capture the same experience as Lost Song when it had an opportunity to improve on it. The game's story is interesting for the Sword Art Online fans, but it leaves much to be desired if you are a Accel World fan since they take a back seat to the story. The combat feels better than Hollow Realization at least and the story is interesting enough to keep you through the game at least once. It is not the epic crossover that you might have hoped for, but it gets the job done decently. Perhaps in the future, they will throw in The Isolator (another Reiki Kawahara story) for an epic fighting game of some kind. Other than that, Accel World vs. Sword Art Online is a bare passable RPG.