The very first anime I ever saw as a kid and recognized it as anime was Dragon Ball Z. The series stuck with me all the way into adulthood. The adolescent violence, over the top fight scenes and ridiculous amounts of yelling. Its the perfect anime. All joking aside, I really love it. All of it actually. Though most people don't seem to hold it in such high regards, at least parts anyway. Everyone remembers Z but no one really wants to acknowledge GT and the first series is barely even mentioned. The games don't really help either, focusing on a specific series rather than the whole entirety. While this game doesn't have the first series, it does have Z and GT which is a step in the right direction. But enough delaying and onto the review.
I might say this too much but it bears repeating: a game that runs well is better than the prettiest game. While I'm not saying the game's visuals aren't striking, what I mean to say is that it runs smoothly thanks to cell shading. Looks nice and it runs nice. Most every game tries to do the best graphics and the best shadow/water effects, my PC chugs just trying to render a single frame and even then its still screwed up. While I did have a few drop points here and there, it never became a problem and was at sensible times like during a brightly colored and flashy super move. Point is, it runs great and it looks great.
One of the things I really dislike about Dragon Ball games is their almost complete leaning on fighting. Sure, the entire series is based on fighting but we have enough fighting games out there. Too many clones of the same game with the same functions. Set in a small arena, 3D fighting on a 2D plane, over reliance on combos and exploits. This game does have some of those things but it doesn't dwell on them. For instance, there are a few large maps such as on Namek and even multiple stages to switch between maps in a single mission freely. Combos are there but they aren't thrust into your face or the core of game play. Dragon Ball has always been fluid. One fight can go through multiple stages, elevations and even different places. The stages rarely stay static so it always bugged me that the maps in previous titles were more scenery than actual... well, maps. You usually have wide open spaces, not only the ground but also in the sky and now even the water.
Another gripe I have about fighting games is cheapness. At the beginning, you're given everything you can get. Apart from unlockable skins and even some finishers, this never changes. So when I get to a boss or fight that is insanely difficult or just plain cheap I just want to throw the controller out the window. Adding in the ability to get stronger and faster through game play definitely makes me happy. The fights in the game are far from easy and I have a few losses to prove it. Though at the end, I can just go back and grind for more Xp or even just power through it by skill alone. Basically, the game is more accessible with the ability for veterans to take their course and the rest of us to take what we want.
While the character creation leaves some to be desired, it still is a welcome addition. Rather than pick that one fighter simply because they have the best moves, I can make someone to my own liking and add the skills and abilities I WANT. Do I want to be a namekian with a kameha wearing some Frieza soldier armor? Now I can! Or how about play as a female majiin with some of Vegeta's moves and Piccolo's armor? Now I can! Apart from that, each race as well as gender has their own additions and subtractions. Females are usually quicker and with a higher ki count while males have greater defenses and do more melee damage.
Back onto the subject of the previous games, they were always static. They always followed the same arcs to the letter and any deviation was considered a side mission. Here, the entire story is basically a 'what if' scenario. What if all the baddies won their battles? What if the Z fighters weren't strong enough? While we'll probably never see each individual enemy's ideal world as they see fit, we do get to see a small snip it of if they win. The ones who were supposed to stop them are lying face on the floor and an evil smirk cuts across their face. You are a time traveler and someone is messing with time, making it so Goku and his friends fail in each of their major fights. You need to go back in time and help them. I love this idea so much. Not only do we get to gloss over the major points of the series, we also get to be apart of it. One funny part was during the fight with the Ginyu Force in which your character accidentally switches bodies with Ginyu. An awesome point was when I fought Frieza in his final form while Namek burned beneath our feet. Its one of those things you just have to experience to see how awesome it really is.
Unfortunately the character creation leaves much to be desired. Why can't I have a skinny majiin male? Where are the female Namekian and Frieza's race choices? Its not a huge deal but there's a point where you have to see that there was some really cool stuff on the cutting board. You know what I would have liked to have been? A kai. While this can be added into future DLC, I just want it now rather than later.
The tutorial is lengthy and somewhat annoying. Once you've created your character, you walk around the hub world just... talking to people. Some people have blips over their heads to signify something to say but the game doesn't tell you that you need to talk to just about everyone before you can proceed. During this time you can't fight, play, buy items or gear. Also be wary of simply clicking without reading. A mission required me early on to go into a portal. Too bad I skipped over that part because I didn't know how to go through it. What you need to do is lock on and press B. Of course I, being an idiot, thought you could just fly through it.
The game is sort of structured like an MMO and its clear to see. There's a somewhat big focus on online. While I wasn't able to play because I think the server for the game isn't up, after a certain point in the game you can see other people's characters walking about. Not the people playing as the characters but simply stock characters like NPCs. Its not a bad thing but usually MMOs don't last very long. This game was based off of the failed MMO for Dragon Ball Z and it really shows. Even in characters. You 'apparently' can have more than one character. Only problem is all the other slots are locked out. So I basically just have been deleting my current character to see what the other races look like... which sucks.
Its hard to tell when items become available to you. I had two sets of armor for preordering and I did not like their look at all, but they functioned so I had no choice but to wear them. You never really know when the new set of gear is going to be available because it doesn't work by your level. I'm 15 right now and I've only just gotten access to lvl 5 stuff. Super moves can either be rewarded via missions but you can also buy them... sometimes. After you've bought them they just kind of vanish. I haven't been able to buy new skills in a long time. Speaking of gear, there's no real easy way to see which gear is better. It works off of increments of stat changes, however, it doesn't tell you if said stat change is better or worse than the stuff you're wearing even if you've bought it. It just shows what will be lost and what will be gained by putting on the armor and I don't mean loss as in the skills that are currently modified by your current gear.
I'm calling it. This is the best Dragon Ball game I've ever played. Its a solid game and at the end of the day I feel it was worth the price of admission. While you won't be able to preorder it anymore for the special little goodies, the game is worth it. Its fast, its fun and you will have fun as well.
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