By Tyler Lubben / March 12th, 2015
|Title||Dragon Ball XenoVerse
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Games|
|Release Date||February 24, 2015|
|Platform||PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, XB1|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
I haven’t spent any significant amount of time with a Dragon Ball game since the fantastic 2004 title Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, which I still consider the best fighting game in the franchise. I was never particularly interested in the Tenkaichi games that came after it because of the less fighter-friendly interface, repetitive gameplay and samey approach to the characters. Plus, let’s face it, there are only so many times you can watch Goku become a Super Saiyan for the first time against Frieza before it starts to get stale. And it’s that last point that caught my attention when I first heard about the newest title in the franchise, Dragon Ball XenoVerse. With an original story and a Back to the Future-like premise, my interest was certainly piqued. But was a fresh approach to Dragon Ball Z’s most well-known plotlines alone enough to sell the game?
At first glance, XenoVerse appears to be just another re-telling the same stories that we’ve known by heart ever since the bygone days when we’d rush home after school to watch Goku power up for another 30 minutes. The game opens with some of the most iconic battles from the TV show; showing Goku’s fights against Frieza, Cell and Kid Buu. It becomes clear very quickly, though, that something is amiss, as strange, sinister auras begin to envelop the villains, increasing their power levels far beyond what they should be, allowing them to easily overcome our hero. Trunks, best known for his involvement in the Android and Cell sagas of the show, sees these events unfolding and decides something must be done. As someone who once tampered with time travel himself, Trunks now works as a Time Patroller, answering directly to the Supreme Kai of Time, to ensure the continuity of the timeline. However, it seems as though Trunks isn’t up to the task himself, so he gathers the Dragon Balls and summons Shenron to make his wish. And what does he wish for? To reveal the forces behind this sinister plot? To stop the changes in the timeline? No. Not one to take the easy/logical route, Trunks wishes for a powerful warrior who can assist him in figuring out what is going on? Well, I suppose we wouldn’t have much of a game if Trunks did the smart thing. Anyway, as it turns out, the “powerful warrior” that Shenron summons to help Trunks is none other than… The Lord of Destruction, Beerus! No, just kidding, it’s you.
Since “you” are the star of this game, it would stand to reason that you should create that character as you see fit. As such, players make a hero based on some of the most well-known terrestrial and alien races in the series. These include Saiyans, fighters with high attack, but low defense; Humans, who have more balanced stats; Namekians, who have the ability to regenerate health when near death; the physically weak, but fast “Frieza” race; and the chubby, pink punching bags, the Majins. Aside from all having their strengths and weaknesses to consider, players are also able to customize their character’s physical features – from the face, hair style, height, build and sex (where applicable). This gives the character you make a much more personalized feel, making you care all that much more as he or she advances through the story. Of course, the obvious choice might be to play as a Saiyan. I mean, why be a Stormtrooper when you could be a Jedi? But, no. For my first playthrough, I decided to go with my gut (literally) and play as a Majin.
After creating your personal Time Patroller, you are transported to the game’s central hub world known as Toki Toki City. This is where you’ll spend your free time between the many battles in which you’ll be taking part. The city is made up of three main sections. First is the Industrial Sector, the shopping district where you can purchase various attacks and abilities, stat-boosting outfits and usable healing and stat-buffing items in battle. Next is the Time Machine Station where players can take part in a variety of battles inspired by the events from the TV show. These can be tackled either single player with AI-controlled teammates or online with human players. Finally, the Plaza of Time houses the entrance to the World Tournament arena, as well as the portal to the story missions. It’s a nicely detailed city full of NPCs and other players running around as they go about their business… if you can connect to the servers. But more on that in a bit.
Players start with a nominal amount of basic melee attacks and energy blasts, but many of the more well-known moves and abilities from the show soon become available from the Skills Shop as the story advances, as rewards for completing side missions or by training under select heroes or villains of the series. Some of the game’s most powerful attacks can only be unlocked by learning them from such powerful masters as Goku, Vegeta, Cell and *snirk* Hercule. This “training” is pretty straightforward. Choose one of the designated trainers around the city as your master, then go about your business. As you level up in story and side missions, your experience under that master will increase. At set increments, you will undergo special missions with your master, which, upon completion, will net you a new attack or ability. You can only train under one master at a time, though you can freely switch between them whenever you wish… if you can find them. Masters appear randomly throughout the city, seeming to shuffle around every time you come back from a mission. At one point, I decided it was time to learn Special Beam Cannon from Piccolo, but damned if I could find him. The dice were certainly not landing in my favor, as I continued to see other trainers over and over, but that Namekian was nowhere to be found. As such, I ended up being saddled with Krillin for quite a while…
Now, I’ve talked about all the missions and fights you will undertake throughout the game, but how do they actually play? As I mentioned before, I didn’t like the full 3D approach that the Tenkaichi games of yesteryear took with the series, so I was initially apprehensive about how XenoVerse would play. However, after getting a feel for my character, I was pleased with how easy it was to string together different combos with the Square and Triangle buttons or send an opponent flying across the screen, teleport behind him and continue the offensive with a special move. Plus, if I ever got bored with my setup, I could always go back to Toki Toki City and buy new moves to completely change my moveset. However, understanding the game’s mechanics themselves only get you so far. There were a few instances when I had not leveled up my stats enough, and I was simply steamrolled by whichever villain I was fighting at the time. This was remedied easily enough by grinding extra XP from previously-completed story missions or sidequests, but I still didn’t much appreciate having to do that. With the fighting mechanics as they were, I would have preferred if the battles were simply tests of skill without the need to also increase my power or health just to be able to keep up.
Pages: 1 2Bandai Namcodimpsdragon ball xenoversePlayStation 4Review