August 22, 2019 at 9:37 AM #574
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
Easily one of the better fighting games of the generation
In a time where microtransactions have begun seeping into games left and right, almost no genre is more affected than the fighting game. Pretty much every fighting game will sell some popular characters after release, and light upgrade-mechanics make for randomized loot that can be sold off if you want to avoid the grind. The question then becomes how enjoyable a game is at launch? Does it justify its asking price? Is there enough going for it if you don’t want to pay extra? Where some games literally sell you half a game and slowly release most of the content through seasonal DLC, a game like Dragon Ball FighterZ comes up and shows you a fighting game can have DLC and still be justified. Not only that, but it manages to cater to both the casual player and the dedicated player.
Rather than go for 3D models, Dragon Ball FighterZ opts for the traditional anime-style aesthetic for the game’s visual layout. This is a highly commendable decision. For one, the traditional drawing is much better at capturing that Dragon Ball personality and charm. Also, it makes the characters much more appealing in design. Nowadays, fighting games that opt for 3-dimensional characters like Street Fighter have a tendency to really make all their characters look almost comically buff. Characters in many fighting games now look like they are popping ¬°¬ģroids and then hitting the gyms for 5 hours every single day. It’s gotten a bit ridiculous, and oddly enough the anime-style actually looks more realistic in a sense. I know Dragon Ball characters are also insanely buff, but it doesn’t look quite as ridiculous in 2-dimensional format.
Sticking to the traditional anime art style is much more appealing. Characters are accurately portrayed, and it’s perfect for showcasing the typical mayhem that occurs during Dragon Ball action. Whether it’s the cement below you blowing up after you slam your opponent, the way mountains shatter when someone is kicked through them, or just the insanely chaotic speed at which characters throw strikes, the overblown action of the series is on full display in all its glory without any sacrifice. This is one of those games that just oozes personality through it’s art direction by making everything look epic and cool rather than hyper-realistic. Sounds perfectly for a Dragon Ball game to me.
Dragon Ball FighterZ takes the concept of team-based fighting games and executes it well. In a vein similar to Marvel Vs. Capcom, commands are relatively simple on the surface. You have you light and medium attacks, ki attacks, etc. Combos are executed by simply repeating the same attack, or pressing them in a certain order of sequence. Some competitive gamers might balk at such streamlined gameplay, but this is just the surface. There are several little mechanics to the fighting that are technically optional, but optimal to master the game on a competitive level. You have mid-air movement, dragon rush for breaking enemy guards, the ability to call teammates for a quick assist, and of course the ability to switch out different fighters. You can perform counters, but poor timing will leave you vulnerable. There is a cooldown for team assist, so utilizing them properly is essential. DragonballZ is a highly accessible game because casual players or newcomers can start mashing combos to pull off stylish attack patterns and epic-looking Kamehameha’s for some enjoyable fun, but dedicated players who understand and practice the various mechanics can dominate on a higher level. Either way, it’s Dragon Ball action at its best as you punch, kick, slam, and blast away your opponents in a variety of different ways.
In single-fight modes you can choose between between 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 battles which you don’t often see in team-based fighting games. Even in story mode you can handicap yourself against the computer by only utilizing one or two characters against a full team. The AI is balanced reasonably well, and for solo battles you have a very dynamic scale for adjusting the difficulty. The enemy AI does occasionally go crazy with its offense even on lower settings, but its not omniscient against your moves.
The only thing that’s not too great is the use of the dragon balls as a mechanic. They don’t intrude on the gameplay, but they don’t really make much of an impact either. You’re supposed to gain them by mixing up special moves and then get granted a buff of your choice when you get them all, but the way to gain them all seems more random than anything. Otherwise the fighting is addicting, hectic, and awesome with plenty of style to boot such as the destructive KO’s that occur when you use the proper move to finish the opponent.
The Story of Dragon Ball FighterZ is¬°¬≠ well¬°¬≠ okay, I think? The premise is that you, the player, have supposedly woken up inside Goku’s body with complete control but no idea how you got there. Bulma is confused and at first offended that you don’t know anything, then Android 16 pops up and makes some vague statements about how you must go with him and he’ll take you by force. Then Beerus shows up and talks about waves around the world and Bulma says the world is in danger and¬°¬≠ oh good grief, just get onto the fighting already!
The big problem with the story is that there is just way, way too much dialogue. This is a Dragon Ball game, I just want to start pummeling guys through mountains with my ki blasts! Cutscenes will just on and on, and they are the kind that require you to keeping pressing the command button to move forward. For fighting games like this, it really is much more ideal to have the cutscenes be short and sweet. They should also play out on their own, to keep things moving along. When you have to keep pressing the main command over and over again, you’re liable to just start skipping dialogue when the characters babble on and on about stuff. The jist of the plot is that you’ve inhabited Goku’s body, and have to help him regain strength while battling villains, evil clones, and other baddies while also freeing aliies and powering them up. The premise of the player actually being an avatar that has to do the fighting through Dragon Ball characters is kind of neat, and they actually did a good job tying the idea of the player possessing characters to the narrative. The story also conveys character personalities accurately. There’s even some classic humor from the likes of Goku sometimes.
The mechanics of story mode revolve around moving your team about a board of connecting stages. Within an allowed number of moves you can freely move from spot to spot, engaging in different battles. You can undergo tutorial battles to learn the ropes, regular battles for some leveling up (And because this is Dragon Ball fighting game, after all), rescue battles where you free allies and have them join the team, and boss battles to progress the narrative. Nothing too original, but it’s still an enjoyable time that does something other than just battling a string of opponents leading up to a final boss.
In summary, story mode’s gameplay is enjoyable, the story is serviceable but some good moments, but there is just way too much exposition overall. After a while it lessens, but it still becomes tempting to skip halfway through some of the dialogue scenes.
Dragon Ball features typical rock n roll music to accompany the action, with some other genres mixed in. On its own, the music is nothing special or unique. It’s your typical high-energy guitar shredding soundtrack. When it’s accompanying the action, however, it meshes well. The energetic pace matches the ongoing mayhem onscreen, making the experience feel all the more epic. There’s no unique or standout classics, but the music does its job pretty well.
The sound effects compliment the action of the game well, from the impact of strikes to the yells of characters as they unleash their most devastating attacks. The guy doing the announcing is quite enthusiastic; he introduces the fight with passions, and the way he announces ¬°¬įDestructive finish¬°¬Ī when you end with a super attack is cheesy yet awesome. The voices for characters are preset for Japanese, but this can be changed in the menu.
Dragon Ball FighterZ brings an impressive amount of content. Story mode has three separate arcs, so there is plenty to do in that regard. You can battle the CPU or a friend in single battles, or you can set up tournaments with up to sixteen players. The ability to choose team-size adds extra variety to the mode. There is arcade mode, where you can take on three courses with varying amounts of stages. The cool thing about this arcade mode is that difficulty is dynamically adjusted to your performance. If you dominate the game amps it up, but if you fail epically it’ll cut you some slack. Harder versions also unlock upon completion. There are also the little Knick knacks thrown in like replay mode and the like. Between solo battles, the story mode arcs, and arcade mode there is a lot to have fun with here, and all in the base game!
As with any fighting game today (And most games in general o be fair), there is a lot of downloadable content. Many characters have to paid for separately, and the game features its own lootbox system in the form of Z capsules, earned through in-game currency. However, the in-game loot doesn’t give anything all that game-changing and you aren’t constantly pressured into dropping real money to avoid the grind. Zeni, the main currency, is earned pretty easily and you gain premium coins should you get a duplicate item. This game can be largely forgiven for its DLC, because the upfront package is satisfactory. We get 21 base characters, including many classic characters like Cell, Android 18, Krillan, Majin Buu and Kid Buu, etc. Also, there are some characters that are unlocked through achievements and player skill the old-fashioned way. There is definitely enough content to enjoy the game without paying an extra cent, so it’s not really a detriment to the experience. It’s the way DLC should be done, if at all.
The shop, lobby, and various modes can be accesses through a central arena screen where you guide your chibi avatar around to wherever you want to go. Often these ¬°¬ģinteractive’ menus have a tendency to be clunky and annoying, but Dragon Ball FighterZ circumvents that by allowing you to warp to any mode from a classic menu if you so desire. As a result, the lobby area gives some personality to the game without making it an annoying task to find what you want.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is the team-based fighting game that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Infinite should have been. It’s high-octane action-packed mayhem that can played in a variety of ways. Gameplay is accessible and addicting while also having nuances for higher skill levels. There’s plenty of modes so everyone should have something to partake in. The music is nothing awe-inspiring but its perfect for the action, and the graphical direction is top-notch. In an era where fighting games tend to sell chopped up versions up front so they can squeeze more money out of us, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the few that could really justify its full-price tag at launch. There’s definitely a lot of DLC and something of a lure with its lootbox system, but the game is enjoyable without paying anything extra and it lets you have fun without begging for money at every turn.
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