Sometimes a warrior’s only way to prove their worth is through a tough fight. So this begs the question, does this warrior stand up to the challenge?
The short answer: Yes but that’s not why you came here is it? The short answers are never what readers come for, so let me explain just how Dragon Ball FighterZ fares in its introduction to the fighting stage.
ArcSys Certainly Know’s Their Way
ArcSys, the developer behind the BlazBlue and Guilty Gear games, took the reigns of this entry in the Dragon Ball franchise and many people were exceptionally happy to hear that. Being someone who has never played a fighting game and walked away feeling good about myself, I couldn’t have cared less about who was developing it. That was until I saw the game in action, and then once again when getting my chance to play the Beta.
I was excited, I was blown away even though I had little chances to actually play the beta when the servers were constantly full, and after playing it myself, I know that was because the game was that fun to play.
So naturally, I slapped down some cash on a preorder and made sure to get my hands on a copy.
I go into this review willing to fully reveal I was expecting to be full of anger, quickly running back to my notes with scathing quotes about how irritating and frustrating this game was and yet, I sit before my laptop admitting… I highly enjoy everything (maybe not everything) about this game.
I can’t say how fighting games normally work, mechanics seem fairly simple to understand, I’ve brushed up on fighting game terms and watched as much as I could before realizing I still am completely new to the whole thing. But I do know about story progression, graphical and audio quality just the same as any other game so with that old knowledge and the new knowledge I picked up along the way, I can give an honest impression of FighterZ.
This is to go further beyond… enjoyment
I’m trying to use the least amount of meme worthy Dragon Ball Z quotes, since most people reviewing FighterZ, fans or not, have pretty much milked the cow dry on the subject. However, since I know the subject matter closely, I can’t help put use it when it fits.
That aside, FighterZ is very enjoyable, down to its core. It goes from just a simple fighting game with basic mechanics, and jumps up to a cinematic adventure which happens during and between the cut scenes. Its beautifully crafted graphics, cel shading and 2.5D works well with Dragon Ball surprisingly, it makes everything pop out during each clash.
Outside of cut scenes, the look and feel can make the fights come across as personal fan fiction material, living out your fantasies of Vegeta finally putting down Goku, or having a moment where Piccolo takes down Frieza all on his own. It doesn’t force it down your throat, it just gently dances in front of you allowing you to piece the scenes together yourself. The special dialogue still holds onto the perception that the power levels are lower, as if they were canonically taken from the show. It still feels pretty damn good to take down some of the toughest baddies, with just Yamcha (our lord and savior).
The environments are gorgeous to look at, ranging from every DBZ set you could imagine, accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack that just gets you in the right mood. My current favorite is the island theme, it’s catchy, upbeat, but still gets you buzzed to fight. All of the voice actors reprise their roles in FighterZ and it does well to serve the gameplay, as it wouldn’t feel like I was playing Vegeta if I was sounding like someone who’d be better suited to play Peter Parker. Though, since taking a liking to the subbed version of the anime, I can admire both the Japanese and English voices.
Though, that’s when the trouble begins to start with the game.
That’s the trouble with…
Localization of the game, at least that’s how I am taking it, seems to make the English voice over and the subtitles out of sync greatly with the characters lips. I’m sure the game, just like when the anime dubs its counterpart, can’t just replace the lip flaps without tremendous work and effort. I give them the benefit of the doubt in this area, but when hearing Goku say something and then his mouth keeps bouncing up and down as if he’s eating right after the fight.
I get that it would be difficult to fix, but I can’t help but feel this takes away from the immersion, which I know it isn’t a huge part of a fighting game but I still have to consider while looking at the game as whole.
The translation error on some of the lines, pointed out by Twitter users, in which some of the more comedic lines were actually spoken in its truest form. Making the joke of Yamcha praying to Kami and Piccolo saying “I can see why Bulma pick Vegeta” instead of its actual translation having Piccolo pointing out he’s praying to Dende. It’s rather aggravating to dishonor the original script, while I can enjoy the hilariously burn worthy jokes, it still stings to know that script is being ignored.
I also can’t help but say that this isn’t the only issue with the game itself. noticeably with the server issues kicking people out, or lagging with the inability to keep matches together due to people’s connection to the server and etc. Sure some of these bugs were worked out by the buggy beta experience, but it seems that many of the bugs that were found were left in. I’ve been kicked from multiple lobbies since I grabbed the game, and all because I went into a training match or something else. I also been plagued by laggy intros and mid battle hiccups.
I can’t explain why the bugs persist but I know I am not the only one to experience them. Many people became up in arms about not being able to play Ring Matches with friends online. It became known by AcrSys and Bandai Namco and yet we still deal with it.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a great game to have in any collection, and this is coming from a fighting game novice. I usually hate fighting games, usually I do well enough to get by in the Story mode and then toss the game aside but with this one I find myself going back and playing multiple matches over and over again. So I can safely say I have reasons to like this game and it is WAY outside my wheelhouse.
Everything from the Story (minus the third act which I have to say is the slowest paced and least interesting), to arcade modes, and online matches, just brim with personality and fun. I can honestly turn on the game and find more and more reasons to play, even if it is in-between other games. I enjoy learning the characters all their different combos and styles to see which ones work well with me and how I would play, even if I’m getting my ass handed to my by someone putting tons of pressure on me from the get go. I learn something new each fight.
I don’t feel like this game could offer too much more than the standard fighting experience however. And it shows in many of the features that honestly I don’t think need to exist in the game.
The Want Nots
Things like the replay system, which sure is great for some people who like to show off, or stream replays for people, or for those wanting to hone their skill by seeing their mistakes but honestly the announcer isn’t necessary and I don’t feel the feature is honestly needed. I don’t know many fighting games well but no idea if the replay feature is a thing. I personally don’t like it but to each their own, I suppose.
The other feature that I don’t think is needed, but isn’t necessarily a fighting game mechanic but a staple of modern game. The Z-Capsule system, or rather the Z-Loot Boxes, just a glorified system to gamble/spend your zeni and win lobby avatars, icons, and etc. Which isn’t wholeheartedly a bad thing, seeing as how you really can’t spend the earned zeni doing anything else, but it can be really addicting. I know from experience, but really is a pointless effort for the game if you only spend but a moment or so in the lobby. I can’t say I should take away people’s joy for the sort of thing, but I could honestly do without it.
My Final Verdict
Dragon Ball FighterZ just so happens to be a great game, and while yes it has its flaws and it may just end up being only a fighting game as it was intended. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, and I wasn’t expecting any more substance than a simple brawler. I went into playing it knowing I wasn’t any good, I also knew that I loved Dragon Ball as much as any fan could and was hoping for a non-canon adventure that hadn’t been explored before. I ended up on the other side of things knowing more about fighting mechanics and feeling more skilled than I anticipated, I also came to love the story presented to me (like I said minus act 3). I could say such horrible things about the people who play fighting games, and how they secretly have an extra thumb or two to be able to pull off some of those combos, yet I can’t because FighterZ has made me feel an interest in a genre I thought I’d never touch again.
So good job ArcSys and Bandai Namco, you turned someone new onto fighting games, I might even go out and try the other games made by the companies.
Speaking of genres I didn’t expect I would be playing, I already have a setup article for next time regarding a certain Anime Literature Club and how it changed my perceptions on gaming and even reality itself.
And as always, follow me on twitter at @ReddicusRex to keep up with my weird photoshop adventures and odd tweets. Just saiyan… heh