Dragon Ball FighterZ stands out in the sea of Dragon Ball games by being a fast-paced 2D fighter, as opposed to a fully 3D fighter. With Arc System Works working on the much-loved anime and breathing new life into it, it’s no wonder that so many people were anticipating this title. Goku and the gang have never looked so good!
Whilst I had high expectations that the game would be good, I was surprised to find that the story mode lasted me around 11 hours. That’s lengthy for a fighting game, and its three routes are a blast to play through. When clones of the world’s strongest fighters appear, the fighters themselves find themselves unable to fight as they’ve been sapped of their powers. You, or more accurately, your soul, is transported to Goku and you’re freely able to bounce around between various characters. This allows their power to be re-ignited, and they’re able to get back to their world-saving duties.
Android 21 is a great addition to the world of Dragon Ball, and her motives kept me guessing until late into the story. The story itself might be little more than fan-serviceable fun, but it’s far from a weak effort solely to appease Dragon Ball fans – it’s just perfect for a non-canon fighting game. Besides, there are just so many times that Frieza can lose miserably to Goku.
We’ve not had a competitive Dragon Ball game in years – perhaps, ever – and so Arc System Works were the best option when it came to bringing the series to a new audience. Their work with Guilty Gear made them a great fit, especially as they implemented 3D anime-inspired models onto a 2D plane which is an impressive technique that’s seen again here. It’s as if the anime has been wonderfully brought the life, and it makes for one of gaming’s most stylish games.
Arc System Works are a master of their craft, and Dragon Ball FighterZ is arguably the best game that the series has seen. The 3v3 battles are exhilarating, and the majority of important fighters are playable – I’m sure we’ll see the likes of Bardock, Broly, Videl, Jiren and Kefla as DLC. It’s accessible and those unfamiliar with the genre will likely be able to battle their way through the story and normal difficulty arcade routes without too much issue, although the hard modes will test even those who are confident in their skills – a lot of this is because the damage the AI does increases with each round, meaning that a small combo can do in almost an entire health bar. Yes, it can be pretty frustrating!
There’s not a lot of single-player content outside of six arcade courses and the story mode though, and there’s currently a bug which prevents you from unlocking SSGSS Goku. You’re supposed to score an A rank on the hard Hyperbolic Time Chamber Course but despite doing it three times, it fails to register although I unlocked SSGSS Vegeta on a different course. I’m hoping this is fixed before the main game is in fan’s hands, but otherwise, you can earn him by earning 500,000 Zeni.
As with many fighting games these days, there’s an auto-combo which makes it easier for newcomers to blast enemies away, although if you play online you might quickly realise that this can only be used for so long before you need to up your game. It might seem shallow when you first play it, as it’s quite easy to come to grips with the controls and special move inputs are basic, but there’s depth here for those who are willing to learn, and quick reactions are vital – a quick teleport or spotting a brief opening can make the difference between a victory and a loss. A single string of attacks can stretch out to almost defeat a character, and there’s strategy in how you switch between characters. When a character isn’t in play, they’ll regenerate a certain amount of health. It’s a fighting game anyone can enjoy but, like always, online is highly competitive and very different to single player.
As mentioned earlier, Dragon Ball FighterZ is gorgeous. Stunning, even. Arc System Works clearly has more than a few Dragon Ball fans in the studio, because there’re so many easter eggs and dedication to detail that it’s impossible to believe that this wasn’t a huge passion project for some of the team members. Each character’s iconic attacks were faithfully re-created, and seeing how they all uniquely interact with one another is entertaining – there’s a lot of hilarious trash talk too! Dramatic finishers, which are short cinematics for when you finish an enemy with an ultimate attack, are explosive and there are some easter egg intros and finishers re-creating scenes from the anime if you fulfil specific conditions.
Both English and Japanese voice-overs are available to pick from, and the English cast reprise their roles from the anime for FighterZ. As always, this is a terrific dub and one of the best around, and it’s no wonder that these voice-actors and actresses have been hired time and time again to give life to these characters. Can you imagine anyone else other than Sean Schemmel as Goku? No? Me neither. The soundtrack is rocky and adrenaline-fuelled, and it sounds exactly like something you’d expect from the series. Tunes from the anime are coming as DLC though, in case you really want to go full in on nostalgia.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is an outstanding fighting game, but it’s one that is showing signs of repetition in the combat because, even though there is a level of depth to the game, it’s not quite as deep as other fighters on the market. Its target market should be pleased though, and it’s nice to see a Dragon Ball game become popular in eSports – I’m sure it’ll be amazing to watch at Evo! Dragon Ball FighterZ is a brilliant game that no fans will want to miss out on, and I’m sure I’ll be returning to it throughout the year. Seriously though, please let Videl be DLC!
Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment