It’s all about the spiky hair and fighting, well mostly fighting…
Dragon Ball Z’s detailed canon has built up over the last 25 years and with it, has grown a huge and dedicated audience. They clamour to watch, play and enjoy anything and everything DBZ! So dear Z-fans, I give you Xenoverse…prepare for another hit of Super Saiyan mayhem.
Previous Dragon Ball Z titles have focused on letting players be the characters they know and love, going toe to toe with them in 2D beat’em up battles. This time round, Xenoverse brings some RPG-ness to the fights, so gamers can craft their own character from one of the four main DBZ races.
This is done using an excellent character creation system. Player characters then feature in all the games cutscenes, right along with all the DBZ stars. Xenoverse is still a manga fighter at its core but could also be labelled an action role-playing hybrid, enhanced by various online features. These include competitive multiplayer as well as an entire catalogue of missions that can be tackled alongside two allies. It is basically a RPG-MMO(ish) game not too dissimilar in design at least, to the juggernaut Destiny. That said, it certainly doesn’t boast an equal level of polish or triple AAA class. Online centric titles of this ilk also crucially rely upon online connectivity to fill out the game world and its activities. But for the life of me, I was forever confronted with messages of servers being unavailable……completely hamstringing the game experience.
The story is kicked off by series mainstay ‘Trunks’, who has called upon the player to help his team of ‘Time-Patrollers’ fix problems in the time-line. Particular famous fights from the series canon are not going the way they should, such as Goku loosing spectacularly to Vegeta (gasp). These ‘mistakes’ are in turn causing time ripples which are being felt through-out the universe. The overall exposition is minimal, with the developers clearly choosing to rely heavily on the Dragon Ball Z fans series knowledge to fill in the gaps. Suffice to say if you are new to this Mangas furrowed brows and gritted teeth, prepare to be baffled.
The core campaign missions are started from the famous Tokitoki City, a hub world which boasts all the standard RPG-MMO fair. Places to find matchmaking, customisation, item creation and quest givers etc.. But when all is said and done, the core gameplay amounts to fighting, running, and flying around in an open 3D space. Chaining a variety of standard and special attacks together to beat a single powerful opponent or a team of lesser enemies. There is definitely fun to be had, but the feeling soon falls away due to the hit and miss nature of combat and the overall repetitive ‘meat and potatoes’ of the game. Essentially characters tear around the 3D battle-arenas at breakneck speed, all culminating in an overpowered and simplistic game of cat and mouse.
Xenoverse is for hardened fans who have an intrinsic need to be a part of Dragon Ball Zs world. Moreover, a DBZ fan is the only gamer likely to look past the poor game design, vicious difficulty spikes and prosaic narrative. Suffice to say, I did enjoy dipping my toe in the pool of supercharged chaos, but I won’t be visiting Goku and his mates again anytime soon.