BY RICARDO LUJAN JR
The story mode of Dragon Ball FighterZ is very lackluster. The story starts with a mysterious figure granting a wish from the dragon balls. The game then cuts to the Z-Warriors all falling unconscious. Bulma finds Goku and awakens him. Bulma tries to figure out what happens to Goku but realizes that Goku has seemly lost all of his memories. Before the two get a chance to figure anything out, they are attacked by a seemly resurrected Android 16. Right after this encounter, the story goes into a small expository dump to lay out the groundwork of the story.
Here is when the actual gameplay portion of the story is revealed. The player is dumped onto a screen where they can choose to move to locations that are marked. The goal is to reach a certain part of the map, but along the way, the player will encounter battles that can help them level up their character, unlock items that can boost certain aspects of their characters, or even unlock new characters for use in the story mode.
The story itself is fine. The gameplay of story mode is where it fails. The battles themselves are too easy. Half of the time, the enemy AI won’t even throw a punch or block anything. These battles end up becoming just a waste of time especially when the battle doesn’t award the player with anything.
One of the best parts of the story mode is the interactions with/between the characters. Players can unlock cutscenes by having certain characters in your party at a time of an encounter or by leveling them up. These cutscenes are fun to watch and keep the characters’ personalities true to the show. Make sure to experiment by switching up your party greatly as there are some surprising interactions between characters. Overall, the story mode of Dragon Ball FighterZ is largely forgettable.
The gameplay of Dragon Ball FighterZ is a departure from other Dragon Ball games. The norm for these titles is a 3D-based arena fighter that is focused more on the spectacle rather than the complexity of the gameplay. Dragon Ball FighterZ is instead a 3v3 2D fighter that manages to combine the spectacle of the show and have a very complex fighting system.
The game features 43 fighters to choose from (19 of the fighters are DLC characters that need to be purchased). Out of those 41 fighters, there are some that repeat, but are in a different form, such as Base Goku, SS Goku, SSB Goku, etc. Despite the repetitiveness of multiple versions of certain characters, they play differently enough to validate their inclusion. Regardless of the duplicate versions of characters, the roster is still diverse and covers almost the entire series’ timeline. Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Super, and Dragon Ball GT all have at least one character on the roster. Original Dragon Ball unfortunately does not get any representation.
For the gameplay, there is quite a bit of freedom in terms of what you can do with the characters. Every character has their combo routes which can range from easy to complicated. One of the mechanics to help new players is auto combos. These are combos that can be performed automatically just by pressing a single button multiple times. Auto combos are just one of many offensive mechanics that the game provides.
Vanish, Dragon Rush, Super Dash, Assists, and Tag Cancels are some of the other techniques that can be utilized during a fight. For the defensive side of the gameplay, there are a plethora of defensive techniques to counteract the defense. Guard Cancel, Aerial Guard Cancel, Vanish Cancels, and Reflect are all available to help protect from damage. All of these mechanics complement the fast pace gameplay very well.
For more advanced or veteran fighting game players, satisfaction will be found in the gameplay. The combo system allows for so many options. There is a limit to how long you can keep an opponent in a combo and how many times the same move can be repeated in one combo, but it is still possible to come up with a string of attacks that will take the opponent from 100% of their health to 0%. The gameplay of Dragon Ball FighterZ is phenomenal and yet, that might not even be the best part of the overall package.
The graphics of DBFZ are the perfect fit for this game as it does justice to the source material. It truly feels like an episode of the anime during gameplay. The effects for charging and beams are also done quite well.
One of the major reasons that the game looks so great is the fact the development team (Arcsys) took the character’s moves from the anime and manga pages. This applies to almost every move for each character except for a few due to there not being much material for the development team to reference from in which case they came up with original moves.
The audio design for the game is great. The sound effect for each attack is satisfying and gives a good sense of the impact regardless if the attack was blocked or not. All of the characters also receive the treatment of having their voice actor from the anime coming to reprise their roles for their game.
This just lends to the whole “playing the anime” aspect of the game that helps complete the audio design. One negative of the audio design is that the lip-sync for the English dub is bad because the characters’ models are synced to the Japanese dub.
This can break the immersion and becoming very distracting when playing in English (The game was only played in English and Japanese Dub. Unsure how the lip sync is in other languages.)
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a great fighting game and an amazing Dragon Ball game. Despite the lackluster story, the gameplay itself which is the main part of the package is phenomenal and allows both beginners and experts to enjoy themselves. We recommend Dragon Ball FighterZ to anybody who likes fighting games or wants to try to get into the fighting game scene.
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