Monday, August 31, 2015

Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (PS4, XONE, PS3, 360) Review

As mentioned, here's that second review. The fifteenth Dragon Ball fighter receives its judgment from SuperPhillip Central here and now. Will this fighter be better than the ones before it? Let's find out with my review.

Rock the Dragon

After years of Dragon Ball Z fighting games, running through the same now-tired story, and featuring minute differences between titles, one might be completely fried when it comes to the games. However, Dimps and Bandai Namco Entertainment have gotten onto something special with the first Dragon Ball Z game of the eighth generation of gaming consoles, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse. With a new take on a tired story, character customization like never seen before, and competent gameplay, there's no need to make a wish to Shenron for a new, capable Dragon Ball Z game.

It's a big, bad battle royale!
You start out by building your custom fighter by selecting one of a handful of races from the Dragon Ball Z saga to play as, whether human/Earthling, Saiyan, Namekian, or Majin, for example. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses. While the Earthling race is basically the Mario of the races, extremely well rounded, Saiyans have high attack and low health, the Namekians have higher health and regenerate health better than any other race, and the Frieza clan is fast but suffers from low attack strength. You can use a selection of faces, body types, hair types, and much more to tweak your fighter to your desired specifics.

Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses.
As you play through the story and other types of missions, you gain experience points from performing well-- doing things like taking a limited amount of damage, using special attacks, blocking a bunch, defeating enemies, and other aspects of battle. This experience, like an RPG, earns you levels that grant attribute points that can be spent on things like increased health, Ki (the energy used to perform special and ultra attacks), basic attack strength, special attack strength, and a lot more.

You also earn Zeni from battle, the currency of the Dragon Ball series, which can be used in the game hub of Dragon Ball Universe, Toki Toki City, a circular area divided up between three parts. It's in the commercial district that you can spend your Zeni on helpful healing items to be used in especially tough battles in the game, as well as costume pieces for your custom fighter.

Not only are costume pieces great for giving your fighter that special "je ne sais quoi" and fashion flair, but they also give stat boosts to your fighter as well. There are hundreds of different costume parts to choose from, some only being available by playing specific missions over and over again until you randomly unlock the costume part desired. Some costume parts are exclusive to certain races, but most are available for all.

The main attraction of Dragon Ball: Xenoverse is the story missions, having you under the tutelage of the Supreme Kai of Time and Trunks, who is making good on paying his debts for illegally traveling back in time to alter the past to make for a better future. Someone or something is altering the past with evil intentions, making it so history has changed with grave consequences. For instance, the first saga represented in Xenoverse is the Saiyan Saga. One change to history is that when Goku is holding Raditz for Piccolo to use his Special Beam Cannon to defeat him, as well as sacrifice Goku in the process, Raditz slips free just before the beam hits him. This is a great change to what really happened. It's up to your custom fighter to enter these scenarios and fix them. The changes to history in Xenoverse can be mighty big shocks to the Dragon Ball Z faithful. What else can you say about facing a highly capable and almost-as-strong-as-Gohan Hercule?

...I don't remember this scene from the show~!
Apart from the story missions, there are missions known as Parallel Quests. These missions, which can be played with two AI partners (you can select which characters they are) or up to two human players via online, take place in parallel universes where battle conditions and contenders are altered from the norm. One has you taking on Frieza's guards before taking on the power-obsessed foe himself, while others have you teaming up to take on Goku, Gohan, Krillin, Vegeta, and a host of other fighters one after the other at the Cell Games.

"I'll be right over here if you need me, Goku!"
Completing specific requirements in the Parallel Quests offers an extension of the quest, meaning a new foe or foes enter the battlefield as an extra bonus. Beating this enemy or enemies, resulting in an Ultimate Finish, usually gives something good for doing so , and losing a Parallel Quest at this juncture of the quest isn't penalized, as it's merely a bonus part of the quest.

However, sometimes you can complete a quest's completion requirements to unlock the extra part of the quest and still not get the next part. This is where Dragon Ball: Xenoverse's ugliest feature is seen, the random number generator. You see, completing Parallel Quests multiple times is a must because even though each quest has a list of goodies you can unlock, such as costume pieces, special attack moves, and Z-souls (equip-able items that grant a special ability in battle), you are not guaranteed to win them for completing a given Parallel Quest with an Ultimate Finish. Instead, it's totally and frustratingly random. This means that while your friend might get that special jacket that Future Trunks wears on his second time completing a quest with an Ultimate Finish, it might take you 10-20 times to finally obtain it. All that ends up doing is artificially extending the play time of Xenoverse, and unnecessarily so, as there is already a lot of content to be found in game.

"Here's some Ki in your eye, chrome dome!"
Dragon Ball Z's strength lies with its extravagantly entertaining fights and unbridled chaos on the battlefield. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse attempts to match the action of the anime to varying degrees of success. In Xenoverse, battles take place in expansive areas with some destructible obstacles in the form of trees, mountains, houses, among other objects. This opens up the possibility for large scale battles featuring lots of horizontal and vertical flying and moving around. Unfortunately, the lock-on system, while helpful, can make for a very clunky experience when the fighting occurs up close and personal.

Combos are very easy to perform, relying on a series of light and heavy attacks to do damage and continue an impressive barrage of physicality. However, it's all too easy to find a combo that works and keep spamming it for most of the game. Blocks and the ability to teleport behind an attacking foe are indeed legitimate strategies, requiring some stamina to do, and these help in making battles less about spamming and more about strategy.

You don't want to be beaten by an Earthling, do you, Vegeta? The other Saiyans
would never let you off the-- oh. That's right. Almost all of them are dead.
You can utilize powerful Ki blast attacks in both super and ultra form, with the latter requiring more Ki to use. You can either patiently wait for Ki to regenerate or you can use one-time use capsule items to do the job. Each fighter can hold four super blast moves and four ultra blast moves. These are highly impressive to see in motion, offering some "holy crap" moments, particularly if you're the target of a said blast attack.

Big blasts are the norm for a DBZ battle!
Regardless, there is a certain amount of button mashing that Dragon Ball: Xenoverse allows, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. If you're looking for an accessible fighting game, you have one. If you're looking for something complex and in-depth, you should look elsewhere-- even within the Dragon Ball Z line of fighting games.

Xenoverse looks the part of an anime brawler with bright, colorful, and detailed characters, expertly animated. Seeing the detail as a fight goes on with your fighter gaining more scuffs, bruises, and blood is quite a nice touch. Areas feature plenty of eye candy and destructible objects as well. On the audio side of the spectrum, all of the voice actors of Dragon Ball Z Kai have lent their voices to Xenoverse, and all sound great in-game. The sounds of punches, kicks, and Ki blasts connecting enhance the throes of battle perfectly.

...And it was then that Kid Buu let out a huge burp.
Dragon Ball: Xenoverse delivers an amazing recreation of the action from the anime series. It's an obvious "must-have" for fans of the show. For everyone else, it depends on how much you can stand the obnoxious element of randomness to certain content within the game and how simplistic Xenoverse is as a fighter compared to other games in the genre. As someone without much love tied to the Dragon Ball Z series, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse managed to pull me in and unleashed a Kamehameha blast to my brain.

[SPC Says: B-]

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