Dragon Ball Xenoverse
Hope of the Universe
  • Release Date
    02.24.2015
  • Publisher
    Bandai Namco Games
  • Developer
    Dimps
  • Xbox One
  • Xbox 360
  • Playstation 4
  • Playstation 3
  • Windows
  • Mac
Release Date
02.24.2015

Publisher
Bandai Namco Games

Developer
Dimps

  • Xbox One
  • Xbox 360
  • Playstation 4
  • Playstation 3
  • Windows
  • Mac
What can I say, I love Dragon Ball Z. From the outside, DBZ is a mediocre action anime with banana shaped hair and prolonged bouts of constipation. Even to the faithful it’s pretty easy to pick apart, but goddamn if it wasn’t the coolest show a kid could have asked for. A goofy yet powerful main character that always ended up the underdog, ridiculous and incredible feats of strength and raw energy, and epic world altering fights. It blew my mind as a kid. My brother and I even got our parents to buy the early Japanese DBZ games for original Playstation, which wouldn’t work on a US console without adding an extra spring into the machine—good times. And the love for that crazy show has stayed with me. Which is why I was pretty excited about Namco Bandai’s Dragonball Xenoverse. It’s the 15th Dragon Ball Z game and it’s made some pretty significant changes this time around. Was I skeptical? Of course. DBZ doesn’t really have the best video game track record. But this one might just have the teeth the series needs.
THE GOOD

Bandai changed up the formula this time around. It’s not simply a fighting game where you plod through the same story AGAIN with the same characters. This time you make a custom character of any race who is in charge of correcting past events which have been tampered with by mysterious evil people. And it’s actually pretty cool. You’re not just a shadowy figure who fixes things and leaves the other characters none the wiser. You show up smack dab in the middle of a battle and the Z warriors are like, “Who the hell is this guy?” There’s something awesome about creating a custom character and having Goku talk directly to him. Closest you can come to meeting your childhood cartoon hero I suppose.

Along with being an integral part of the main DBZ storyline, your character’s moves are totally customizable and there’s an admirable effort to add some RPG flavor to the mix. As your character levels up you gain stat points, new moves, and new clothing that lets you focus your character’s strength based on your preference. It wasn’t done perfectly but it was refreshing and rewarding to deck out your character in nostalgic DBZ gear and rip off a kamehameha whenever you want.

The fighting mechanics have been tightened up too. You really have to pay attention to your Health, Ki, and Stamina meters if you want to win a fight. You can’t just do any move at any time and the combos aren’t a given anymore. It still has its problems (and pardon my sentence structure) but pulling off a sweet combo that ends with one of those classic DBZ gut punches which sends them flying and then you teleport into their path only to start up another combo and then smash them into the ground and then unleash that Vegeta-style energy barrage that sends hundreds of ki blasts at the guy (but would never actually kill him) is pretty exhilarating. Yeah you guys know what I’m talking about. Badass.

Almost forgot! The battles aren’t 1v1 anymore! You can do up to 3v3 and wow it really feels like a DBZ fight. There are pockets of battles going on all over the battlefield and it really takes the game to a new level. Couple that with online play where you and a friend can beat the hell out of Frieza and the Ginyu Force and you’ve got yourself a good time.

THE BAD

As much as I wanted to love everything about the game, it has some issues that are hard to overlook. The most glaring, and honestly unforgivable thing about Xenoverse is that there are no destructible environments. For a game based on a show where it is commonplace to be smashed through several mountains and form a crater on impact to not have fully destructible battle arenas is frankly ridiculous. To be fair, palm trees will fall down and disappear sometimes, small houses will fall down and disappear sometimes, and impact craters will pop up and disappear sometimes. But that is a far cry from what even earlier DBZ games accomplished. In DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 3 if your character did an ultimate move, literally the entire stage would change. Oh you wanted to fight on a partly cloudy day on Namek? How about I use a spirit bomb and now we’re fighting in a fiery, stormy wasteland? And then someone would get punched through a big rock. That’s Dragon Ball Z damnit! While I like what they’ve done to the fighting, it needs a bit more love. Sometimes your moves just don’t link up the way you’d expect and you’re left punching the air or looking in the wrong directly. If you hit a guy into the ground, typically you’d want to zip over and start wailing on him but the game grants him some invincibility frames, or makes him bounce awkwardly when hit, so you can’t fully tear someone to pieces the way you’d expect. Also, and this is more of a personal frustration, every AI character seems to have an AoE energy burst that interrupts any combo and sends you flying. Holy crap it’s so annoying and they do it all the time. Bvjklcvjpiowrejiodsfkl!!! The rest of this stuff is self-explanatory, so let me spew out some weird missteps: there are secret win conditions to every challenge mission (parallel quests) that you basically just have to guess at, even if you complete the conditions it might not activate correctly, all mission rewards are randomized so you end up doing them again and again, there’s no preview of the clothes the shop sells, you can’t jump over low benches (pet peeve), you can’t fly in town so you end up running everywhere like a filthy regular person, there’s no party system so you can stick with your friends, and lastly you can’t complete the story mode without grinding in parallel quests or redoing story missions. Either I totally suck or the story missions are just too hard. Like, frustrating hard, not challenging hard.
THE TAKEAWAY

Xenoverse is a weird game. There are things I love, things I hate, and things I’m confused as to why they were left out. Altogether, it feels like the start of something, not the end product. It takes risks and goes in directions no other DBZ game has gone in before but it leaves out some essentials along the way. To say it a different way: it does the face punching really well but the boom-smashy bits need some work. My love of DBZ will carry me through this game and it truly does tell the story in a way that hasn’t been done before, but I’m thinking when Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 rolls around, THEN we’ll be in for a real treat. Until it reaches its final form, if you’re a DBZ fan like me, pick it up and love it for what it is: a good game for now and a hope for more to come.
This one is a no-brainer for DBZ fans but its odd omissions and missteps keep it from reaching over 9000.
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