Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (NS) Review

It's an evening of fighting games this Halloween night. Things start off with this review of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, as released on the Nintendo Switch last month. Stay tuned for more fighting game goodness later tonight, but first, here's SuperPhillip Central's review of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 for Nintendo Switch.

Preserve the past while forging a hopeful future

Dragon Ball is back and in a big way as of late. A new anime that continues the adventures of Goku and crew marches along with Dragon Ball Super, and a jaw-dropping new fighting game for the series is due out early next year with Dragon Ball FighterZ. Before looking completely into the future, Nintendo Switch owners recently got in on the Dragon Ball fun with a port of 2016's Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Does being able to relive parts of the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super anime series, as well as being able to grind on the go (or on the toilet) make for a worthwhile game for Switch owners?

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 returns the story to a familiar concept. One very reminiscent of the first Xenoverse. Once more Towa and Mira are at it again, altering events within the Dragon Ball Z chronology to ensure the bad guys win. It's up to your avatar and Trunks to serve as the front lines of the Time Patrol, fixing various complications caused within the events of the game. Do you remember that one part on Dragon Ball Z during the Saiyan Saga where both Vegeta and Nappa turned into Great Apes? Well, that didn't actually happen, but with Towa and Mira's meddling, it does in Xenoverse 2's story. That's but one of the many alterations within the game. Xenoverse 2's story mode chronicles changes from Dragon Ball Z's Saiyan Saga all the way up to Dragon Ball Super's Frieza arc.

Battle like you've never battled before, Goku and Vegeta; The tournament crowd demands it!
Your avatar character is a custom creation made by you using various pieces of other Dragon Ball characters. Before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you first choose from one of five races like Human, Saiyan, or Namekian, for instance. Everything from the gender and color of your character's hair and skin to the sound of their voice can be customized.

Once you finish customizing your avatar, you're thrust into Xenoverse 2's new setting, Conton City, a much larger and less tedious place to travel around in than the original's Toki Toki City. However, on the Nintendo Switch version this overworld where all of Xenoverse 2's points of interest are interconnected chugs along at an inconsistent frame-rate at best. Still, it's a negative performance effect that doesn't mean much unless you're really sensitive to frame-rate. In my case, the stuttering didn't bother me whatsoever and I quickly learned to deal with it.

Looking pretty fly there, chief!
Conton City itself is home to an exhaustive list of things to do. The Time Nest houses the means to continue along with story quests while a counter in the westernmost part of the main city is where Parallel Quests can be tried out. As you progress in the story, more Parallel Quests unlock, bringing quests with varying scenarios, all of which never happened on the show. Whether it's battling Saiyan after Saiyan one after another, taking on the Ginyu Force in West City, or eliminating seven Cell Jr. enemies before taking on the head honcho Cell afterwards, the quests follow the same overall goal: beating the hell out of your opponents.

All Parallel Quests have secondary objectives (albeit hidden from sight) that when completed, introduces more fighting to the current quest. New opponents might appear yearning to fight or defeated ones might take a never say die attitude with you. Although failing a Parallel Quest after satisfying the primary objective but not finishing the secondary objective means you still complete the quest, it also means you won't be able to get an Ultimate Finish on that battle. This condition usually means better post-battle prizes and grades. Though the grade system itself in Xenoverse 2 doesn't generally follow any logical reasoning. One fight with a mediocre performance can give you the best grade, a Z, while a fight you thought you did well on nets you a B. The prizes you earn come in the form of items, costume pieces for your avatar, new moves to equip to your avatar, and money. Moves and costume pieces are the rarest to obtain, so even if you get an Ultimate Finish on a particular Parallel Quest, you're not guaranteed a rare item. In fact, there can be some annoying grinding involved to get desired items, but not nearly as bad as what was seen in the original Xenoverse.

Enter into some of the most memorable battles in Dragon Ball Z history... and some that never happened.
These Parallel Quests can be played offline with two other AI partners to assist you, or they can be played online with opponents the world over. Just don't expect to matched up all too quickly with people in the lobby. That said, once you're locked into a battle, everything runs steadily without much in the way of stuttering or lag, which was really great and satisfying to see in motion. Outside of Parallel Quests, multiplayer online battles are also available in both ranking and standard bouts. Meanwhile, local multiplayer can be played on one Switch with two controllers. The characters you've unlocked through normal play are the ones available to you, and with over 40 to choose from, the roster of fighters is quite impressive. (Alternatively, you can download a free code to unlock all characters instantaneously, but of course not the DLC ones that cost money.)

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2's combat is mostly unchanged since the original game, but it still runs as fluidly on the Nintendo Switch with this port. Instead of up to eight characters on screen at once, the more limited hardware power of the Nintendo Switch results in only up to six characters being able to battle simultaneously. The Switch's Pro controller or Joycon grip work wonderfully with the game, granting the same experience as the earlier versions of Xenoverse 2 on the Switch's competing platforms. There's one face button each for weak and heavy attacks, one button to rise up while holding down the left stick results in your character lowering to the ground. one shoulder button blocks while the other provides a boost of speed to jet across the ground and through the air to get in the face of opponents, and holding down ZL, ZR, or a combination of the two presents a list of special moves that can be used (each assigned to a face button) as long as you have enough Ki energy to use them.

A boot to the gut will make even the strongest of fighters let out some serious air.
Ki is displayed on the HUD with an orange bar divided up between rectangles. It depletes as special moves are used, even if they miss their intended target (which is easy if you're just spamming them as there are few moves with actual homing capabilities). To restore it, you can either use an Energy Charge move, use a Ki-replenishing item, or deal damage to an opponent. Another bar on the HUD is the stamina gauge which is a series of blue rectangles that get used up each time you teleport behind your opponent, usually used to evade melee strikes and getting caught in a combo. Stamina also decreases when blocking. When the gauge is emptied completely, your character becomes dazed, and if they were blocking, their guard is broken, leaving them open to enemy attacks.

Xenoverse's 2 battles are just hectic as the anime they're based off of, just without any filler involved. Sure, you still have chatty characters like heroes cheering their teammates on or giving them words of encouragement while villains taunt your ability, but it's all in good fun. My only real gripe with battles is the unwieldy camera, which can obscure the view of players, especially when nearby objects like trees and buildings, and it does very little to help out when surrounded by enemies. Behind-the-back attacks happen more often than I would like, and with Xenoverse 2's camera these become a lot more frustrating when they happen (which is one problem that unfortunately reappears from the OG Xenoverse).

I'm glad Cell evolved from his first form. In this form he has a monstrous case of pinkeye.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has a ton of content to it. From all of the quests -- both story and Parallel -- to training with the over 20 teachers in the game to learn their exclusive moves, leveling up your character's stats in any way you like, and doing battles online and off, Xenoverse 2 kept me coming back for more long after my avatar gave Towa and Mira a history lesson (and that lesson was "don't f--- with history". Performance in the Conton City hub isn't spectacular (in fact, it's not good at all), but in battles where it matters, it's aces. If you have yet to check out Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 and want to hype yourself up for the continuing adventures of Goku and friends in Dragon Ball Super or the upcoming fighter Dragon Ball FighterZ, this game will keep your hype in check. There's no need for Switch owners to call upon Shenron with the Dragon Ball to make a wish. An excellent Dragon Ball game is right here for them with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.

[SPC Says: B-]

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