Dragon Ball Xenoverse
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC
Dragon Ball XenoVerse is the latest instalment in the Dragon Ball fighting game franchise that sees you, a customised character, battling it out against formidable Dragon Ball Z villains. Has developer Dimps fired a Spirit Bomb into the hands of gamers everywhere?
The game begins with Trunks as a Time Patroller wishes you to appear by the power of Shenron and the seven dragon balls. The timeline of Dragon Ball Z has gone completely out of whack with villains gaining too much strength and winning against the heroes, altering history. The only way to make things right is to jump to each affected battle and sort things out by hitting, kicking and blasting energy at the villains. It’s down to the Time Patrollers to find out what’s going on and who’s responsible for all this madness. The plot feels like something that could have been an anime spin-off movie, and works quite well. It isn’t ground breaking, but it works in this medium.
Customisation plays an important role, where hours can be lost at the start of the game deciding on what you want your character to look like. There’s a choice of male and female Majin, Super Saiyans or humans, along with Namekians or one of Frieza’s Race. Each class, and gender if available, has individual positives and negatives. The customisation works on pre-set pieces as opposed to sliders, so you don’t need to worry about to what degree how much your character’s nose sticks out. Each character comes with pre-set skills, with many different skills based off other characters just waiting for you to unlock.
The gameplay plays out much like a typical fighting game. Super and Ultra moves aren’t resigned to button inputs and stick movements, but instead hot mapped to the four face buttons when the triggers are held down. This lets anyone jump in, and there’s no need to memorise inputs. However, battles can play out a little weirdly. For example, if a character fires a Ki blast attack, and then another character goes to attack their back, they’ll be hit as if they were hit by the blast.
The over world is presented as Toki Toki City, where Time Patrollers organise themselves to fix history. This is used as the hub for the story, offline and online battles, and for purchasing new items, clothes and skills, and if you’re connected to the XenoVerse server, other people’s characters will appear in the city, showing off the creativity of others. However, it all seems a little unnecessary as it takes a while to walk within the hub to game mode you want to play. Each of the sections could have been presented as a menu, or there could have been at least a run option or a fast travel. This is quite a contrast to the movement in battle and breaks up the flow of the game for the worse, especially when there’s the desire to jump straight back into the combat.
In addition to the story mode, Parallel Quests are also available, where enemies at various points in the story can become allies for a mission, and vice versa. A majority of the game lies here, with many different quests available over the course of the game. These quests allow for the chance to earn experience to earn stat boosts. If you want any shot at the harder story levels or the online multiplayer, completing these quests is a necessity.
Multiplayer doesn’t sit right. On the same console, there’s only one stage available. This is strange when there’s an offline battle mode against the computer, with previously played stages from single player available. Online can be played with up to six people, three aside, on any previously played map. Connectivity is rather finicky at the moment, with side effects of losing connection to the XenoVerse server ranging from being kicked out of an online match to being booted to the title screen, which can be infuriating.
At first, Dragon Ball XenoVerse looks and sounds quite impressive. The 2D anime cutscenes look like they came right from the anime, the cel-shaded 3D graphics have their charm, and the audio suits everything to a tee. After a while, they all wear thin. If you’re having troubles with a particular mission (and you will no doubt be trying and trying again to complete some missions), the music loops may start to get on your nerves, and some of the graphics from close up are a bit of a letdown; tuffs of grass are two dimensional sprites, and the leaves on trees are sprites placed in a cross formation. It’s 2015, I thought these graphic workarounds were left in the past.
Summary: Overall, there’s a lot of Spirit put into this game, but the Bomb is lacking. Despite its shortcomings, those who love the Dragon Ball franchise will love Dragon Ball XenoVerse. It’s pick up and play style of combat will give the big fans with an experience they’ll surely love. For those who love their fighters with flashy moves, pummeling and blasting foes away, this will still be a great choice. If you’re more of a fan for fighters with in-depth mechanics, it’d be best to think hard if Dragon Ball XenoVerse will be right for you.