Make Your Own Saiyan
Nostalgia can prove a very potent emotion when harnessed correctly. It has the potential to dredge up some of our most cherished childhood moments and allow us to once more venture back into our youth. Some of my greatest memories from the Playstation 2 era were made playing the original Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi games. These titles had such a stellar understanding of exactly what was needed to flawlessly capture the essence and energy of the anime with a high paced high intensity fighter as the conduit. It’s no secret however that the franchise seems to have lost its way in its last few ventures so I must admit I was cautiously optimistic when heading into the franchise’s latest outing in Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It gives me great pleasure to admit however that my skepticism quickly gave way to excitement and anticipation all within minutes of this latest adventure.
I think its goes without saying that attempting to breathe fresh life into a narrative that must remain loyal to the actual events of the show while at the same time needing to differentiate itself from its countless predecessors presents its own set of unique development challenges. “What if” stories is a concept that has been experimented with in previous Dragon Ball games with varying degrees of success but has never been fully embraced until now. A devious duo of time travelling bandits have been wreaking havoc across the universe attempting to alter the fate of some of the most iconic fights in the anime. Trunks has enlisted your help in order to foil the villain’s attempts to rewrite the history books, and ensure pivotal events remain on their natural course.
Not only does this exciting new anecdotal approach make the profoundly familiar venture though the timeline of Dragon Ball infinitely more interesting and gratifying, it also provided an excellent platform to introduce some stellar new gameplay mechanics. Dragon Ball fans have craved for years the ability to hand craft their own Z fighter and in Xenoverse this dream comes to fruition. Absolutely spoiled for choice players will be able to choose from one of a whopping 5 possible races including fan favorite Saiyans, Earthlings and Namekians as well as races from some of the brands most memorable villains including Frieza and Majin Buu. The customization doesn’t halt there however, as you are able to further alter every aspect of your own unique hero including gender, hair style, colour as well as a variety of numerous super and ultimate attacks that have become a staple of the brand. What makes this level of personalization and customization so impressive however is how well it is continually complemented throughout the game via mission rewards or from purchasing from one of titles many NPC vendors. This is particularly satisfying as it grants the players a profound sense of progression and achievement as they are constantly showered with new clothing, attacks, accessories and equip items to experiment with.
For those of us who spent hours stumbling through the very limited English in order to experience the franchises relatively unknown MMO Dragon Ball online will be able to immediately draw parallels between the two. This is most evident in the game’s MMO/RPG style leveling system which see’s players rewarded with attribute points after leveling which can be used to tailor their stylized Z fighter to their own unique fighting style and preference whether it be up close and personal or blasting from a distance. Rather than mindlessly trudging from the start of the story arc and ultimately to its conclusion via nothing more than scrolling menu screen, developer DIMPS has provided Xenoverse with a dense and populated Sandbox known as Toki Toki city which serves as a player hub and outlet to all activities within the game. Not only does having an open world environment to explore and admire in both local (randomly generated NPC’s) and online modes, make you feel genuinely immersed in the Dragon Ball universe, it serves to further encourage players to embark on their epic adventures with the assistance of other players via CO-OP. Whether you choose fellow Z Fighters or prefer a more solitary experience with computer controlled assistance the experience is impressive and remarkably satisfying both ways.
Once again drawing inspiration from other genres Xenoverse sees the introduction of side quests knows as parallel quests to the franchise. Infinitely repayable and promising a slew of different possible rewards and benefits these side missions also take place in large custom sandboxes. Consisting of numerous battle arena’s, these missions only not provide an excellent opportunity for players to strengthen, prepare, and customize their characters outside of the main story arc , but also grants a powerful sense of replay value to the action as you will be dying to collect every last reward on offer.
“Infinitely repayable and promising a slew of different possible rewards and benefits”
Although this is by far the best Dragon Ball game in recent memory with a presentation and score that truly does the anime justice, complemented by some truly groundbreaking new gameplay mechanics for the brand, my time with Xenoverse was unfortunately not all rainbows and lollipops. Disconnection from the servers proved to a frequent and quite frustrating issue resulting in a series of annoying loops of logging back in only to be booted 10 minutes later. Some of the parallel missions also proved to be downright punishing in Xenoverse almost to the point whether they might be considered sadistic. This issue in particular however was further compounded by the need to relentlessly replay them in order to unlock some most rewarding items.
These few somewhat minor issues aside, I have nothing but praise for what Dimps has managed to achieve with their bold new reimagining of the much loved brawler. The ability to hand craft your own protagonist from such a vast array of possible outcomes coupled with a truly impressive amount of variety in gameplay, make this a must own for any lover of the series or for any gamer looking for a first class fighter with plenty of content to sink their teeth into.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed)
A review copy for the game was provided by the publisher.