“It’s Kame-hame-ha time”
Available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 (tested)
The day has come for developer Dimps to tackle Dragon Ball once again, in what it is the franchise debut on the new gen. Distributed by Bandai, the new game revolves around Dragon Ball story with a cool twist, in order to refresh the old “play through the Dragon Ball story we all know so well once again, but with slightly upgraded graphics”.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse
We start playing as Goku through 3 different key battles – Frieza, Cell and Buu – that serve as an introduction to both the game and the story. Fast forward almost a hundred years and we are situated in the age 850, in Toki Toki City; Shen Long has been summoned and a new warrior is born: you. The player can choose the race, looks and battle preferences when creating the character. When we are ready to go, Trunks introduces himself as leader of the Time Patrol and engages into combat with our warrior, serving as a tutorial for the game mechanics. Once finished, Trunks briefs the situation: someone is attempting to change key historical events, thus creating multiple alternative timelines, changing the Dragon Ball universe we know so well. To prevent that, our warrior has to travel to different ages and amend these events, so they play out as they always were supposed to be.
Introduction left aside, you are allowed to travel across the too big and boring Toki Toki City, where you will find NPCs that can join you, shops to buy equipment and items and several stands that allow you to play the different modes Xenoverse has to offer you. Fancy to have a local 1 vs 1 with a friend? There’s a stand for that. Or maybe you want to battle online on a 3 vs 3 match, there’s a stand for that too. Some Offline/Online side questing? Guess What? Yes, another stand.
Most of these “role playing” activities give exp to your character, translated into ability points to be allocated in the different stats your character has. The Online questing in particular is very cool, since it allows you and 2 friends to tag team into a quest and engage battles with multiple foes, Dragon Ball Z Legends (PSone) style. Offline questing is solo and tends to be repetitive and boring.
Don’t get me wrong; online questing is also repetitive, but at least you are hanging with friends, which always make it better.
All of this makes for a really sweet starting point in regards to a Dragon Ball game… at least until you play one battle. The gameplay within battles has been so simplified for the casual player, that you will find yourself spamming the same combo and abilities over and over and over again. I was happy when I was told “Press Options button to see the combo list for this character” during the tutorial. Thing is you are only shown two combo trees. One starts with the Square button, alternating between Square and Triangle. The other does the same as the previous tree, but starts with the Triangle. That’s it. That’s your combo list… for every character in the game. Add to this the fact that special moves are activated by holding down R2 and pressing one of the four main buttons, and you have the easiest, most friendly fighting game ever… for the worst, of course.
I’m not asking much, but a little more depth within combat would have been appreciated, more so with the possibilities a franchise like Dragon Ball gives to you as a game designer.
Gameplay aside, the game’s presentation is quite notable. Graphic wise, the 3D models and scenarios are beautifully crafted, while the lighting and visual effects make justice to the Dragon Ball franchise. Sound wise, the soundtrack is composed by various new high speed metal songs, with lots of guitar solos, which are all ok but are nowhere close to reach a “classic” status like the good old Future Trunks song. Voice acting is superb, as usual, with the original Dragon Ball cast reprising their roles for the 50th time. However, you can find some mixing issues here and there, which make some sound effects louder than others without reason at all.
Should you play it? If you are a diehard Dragon Ball fan like me, yes, play it; you will find lots of easter eggs and a lot of the twists given to the well-known mythos are very good. Alas, if you are looking for a new fighting game, you will be disappointed by its simplified gameplay.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse is better than all of its previous gen predecessors, succeeding in storytelling and some good features, but boring gameplay prevents the Dragon Ball spark from igniting.