Review by Darkness-Seeker
Your wish has been granted!
Like many my age, I grew up with Dragon Ball Z, it was such a part of my childhood that I played every game that released for the PS2. Some were good, most were bad, but they all contributed to my childhood nonetheless. However, as the years have passed the Dragon Ball brand has become damaged as far as video games go and has become synonymous with mediocrity, despite how much many gamers enjoyed the recent games. It is for this reason that I was so excited for Dragon Ball FighterZ, it looked like everything I had wanted from a DBZ game since the PS1 era and surprisingly, it actually exceeded the levels of excitement that I had and has quickly become my favorite fighter of the generation.
While most Dragon Ball games allow the player to experience the events of the anime, FighterZ takes a different approach and provides a completely original story, even introducing a new character, Android 21. I'll be honest the story is ridiculous, but in a good way, it provides a tangible reason for why the characters can fight each other in game without contradicting the power scales of the show. If you are a fan you'll most likely have a smile on your face throughout most of the journey, but if you're just into the fighting you'll probably be cringing a bit at some of the character interactions. While the story is enjoyable, the pace is continually broken by constantly fighting bland clones of the playable characters and is used as nothing more than a reason to let the player fight. I know this is a nitpick and I am grateful for the story we got, but I would have preferred a bigger focus on fighting actual characters instead of clones. Regardless, the story is a nice helping of fan service that is very enjoyable, but has plenty of room for improvement.
There is no denying that this game is absolutely gorgeous, no it is not visually realistic or breaking grounds with graphical technology, but more than anything else it loyal to the source material. Arc Systems has captured the look and feel of the anime more than any developer before them in both the overall style and animations. The incredible visuals enhanced every match for me and truly made me feel like the developers understood what they were doing and felt passionate about the series.
I'm going to be perfectly honest here, Dragon Ball FighterZ is my favorite fighter of this generation and is honestly in my top five of all time. In an era where most fighting games are disappointing at launch, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the rare cases where the content the game launches with is fully satisfying and leaves you wanting more, but not in a way that makes the game feel incomplete or lacking.
First off let's talk about the roster, Dragon Ball as a franchise has so many characters from the anime, movies, spin-offs, etc... that it is going to be impossible to please every fan of the series. With that said, I feel like FighterZ has a very well balanced and fun roster of characters to choose from. Would I have liked more? Absolutely, but I'd gladly trade that for proper character balancing and less clones, which this game does quite well. Yes, you can make the argument that all fighters are technically the same, but with Dragon Ball FighterZ it never feels that way. Barring the Super Saiyan Blue forms of Goku and Vegeta, each character feels unique with their own moves and power ups. Experimenting with all the characters and discovering which trio flows well for your specific team is one of the most entertaining parts of the game. If you are not one who normally plays fighting games, FighterZ starts you off with some automatic combos that let even the least experienced of players look cool and feel like they are an expert. Yes, this leads to spamming and this can be considered a legit quarrel with the game. However, auto combos will do an inexperienced player no good when faced against a seasoned player. This encourages those who normally don't spend that much time on these types of games to try and get better, and there is no better feeling then mastering one of your favorite characters.
But hey, how's the fighting? Well, to no one's surprise Arc System managed to fashion yet another fun fighter. You often hear the phrase, easy to play but difficult to master. Though an overused saying, I feel there is no better way to describe this game then just that. The game has often been compared to Marvel vs. Capcom and that is a fairly accurate comparison and is made very clear with the three man structure of the gameplay. Despite this, the game still feels like a Dragon Ball game even though it borrows from fighting games that came before. Like the anime, your character has a ki meter and the more it builds the more abilities/attacks you gain access to. Depending on whether or not your ki is full a battle can either go incredibly well or be an absolute disaster, but that's what makes matches interesting. Another prime example of what I mean is in the transformations for Frieza and Gohan. In past games transformations changed the characters appearance and offered a few new moves, but little else. In FighterZ these actually feel like transformations as the character gets stronger and faster when in their morphed states, once again adding a bit of Dragon Ball flair to enhance the overall experience. Making a good fighter that is purely Dragon Ball seems to be at the core of Arc System's development goals and, in my opinion, there is no better example of this than the dramatic finishers. Depending on what characters are battling, and certain conditions, the endings of matches may re-enact iconic scenes form Dragon Ball Z. There was really no reason to include this aside from just fan service, but these epic finishers will no doubt put a smile on the face of anyone who grew up with show like I did.
Online play in FighterZ is a bit of a mixed bag for me, it might just be my internet connection, but when I first played the game my game had a significant lag that made my matches nothing but frustrating. However, when my connection was working well, the fights were insanely fun, whether I was winning or losing and it is evident that this is where the game's main focus is. I am by no means a hardcore player, but I will admit that getting beaten repeatedly in the online modes inspired me to become better at the game, purely because when I got beaten I felt like it was my fault, well most of the time. Regardless, online was still a fun experience for me, even if I had a less than thrilling first experience.
There is no doubt that this game will not please all fans of the series, especially with the relatively small roster of characters. But overall, I feel that FighterZ is the best Dragon Ball game we have received in many years and stands tall as a great fighter alongside being a fun DB game. Yes, the roster does not even compare to most games of the past, but it is supplemented by having a well balanced roster that encourages experimentation in order to master the fighting mechanics. After years of waiting Shenron has finally granted my wish for a classic fighter in the Dragon Ball universe and I can only hope that the game will continually improve with DLC as well as a possible sequel.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Dragon Ball FighterZ (US, 01/26/18)
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