Dragon Ball Xenoverse – Lets do the Time Warp
My first review on my site, and it’s Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Xenoverse is a fighting RPG based on the titular Dragon Ball series. Developed by Dimps and produced by Bandai Namco, Xenoverse is infamous for having the gameplay gimmick of creating you own Original Character. This was the first Dragon Ball game I played, after just getting acquainted with the franchise, and boy is this a mixed bag of skittles and M&Ms.
Story (Minor Spoilers)
The story of Xenoverse is what drew many people to it, having a time travel plot that ties your character into the meat of things. After spending 30 minutes creating your character, you are whisked into the world of Dragon Ball and have to help out the Time Patrol as they prevent a pair of time hopping ne’er-do-wells as they mess with the Dragon Ball timeline. From the very beginning you are enveloped in a deep story that parallels the story all Dragon Ball fans are familiar with, and if you aren’t then it’s a unique way of introducing you to said story. The inclusion of your own creation in the story both adds to the experience and takes away from it. It adds because it makes you feel special and integral to the plot, but it takes away because it downplays many moments that in the show were groundbreaking and mind blowing in the beginning. The time travel element is also a bit of a cop-out in my opinion, allowing for them to save having to write a fully unique story and instead put some meat on the skeleton that already exists. That being said, the story is enjoyable to play through and it is satisfying to finally play as your own character in a Dragon Ball game, but more on that later.
The gameplay is the biggest part of the whole ‘mixed bag of Skittles and M&Ms’ analogy I mentioned at the start. The controls are very simplistic and rely on pulling of combo’s and launching extreme attacks. While many Dragon Ball games use input commands like Budokai Tenkaichi and FighterZ, Xenoverse is perhaps the most basic the franchise in terms of controls. The battles are the main focus of the game, and they focus on dynamic movement and flying through the sky, rushing the opponents with a barrage of attacks. Honestly for the first few battles the gameplay is pretty fun, it’s satisfying to pull of an elaborate combo and launch powerful energy attacks. Speaking of, the special moves in this game are awesome, there are dozens of them, all used by previous characters. You can use the famous moves like the Kamehameha, Galick Gun and the Destructo Disc, along with many more that look amazing in this game. Ok, so I mentioned that the gameplay was the most mixed part of the game, you just read the good mix, now for the bad mix.
The game can start off with relatively fun gameplay, but as the difficulty spike rises, so too does the frustration as battles turn into button mashing slug fests where you have to fight for about 5 minutes and every second feels like an eternity. I understand making a game more difficult as it progresses, it’s Game Design 101, but when the epic fight against Frieza, Cell AND Majin Buu all at once feels more like a chore that a quest, it really does take you out of the experience. Do Dragon Ball fans remember that infamous 5 minutes that spanned almost 5 episodes or so, well these fight actually feel like those full 20 minute episodes. Another major gripe I have with the game is the Parallel quests. PQs are side missions that provide you with unlockables and other rewards for completing the missions. That being said, this game has one of the worst reward systems I’ve ever had to play against. In order to obtain a certain move or item of clothing in a PQ you need to fulfil certain prerequisites, these can be time limits, beating certain foes, surviving with a certain amount of health or all of the above. Even then, if you fulfil all these requirements, you have a chance of progressing to a hidden part of the stage and THEN after you beat that part you have a chance of unlocking the reward. LordMoonstone of TeamFourStar, the crew behind Dragon Ball Z Abridged, said he spent hours trying to unlock one skill because of how unbalanced the chance ratio is, and I can confirm that this is indeed true. RIP those 3 hours of my life I’ll never get back.
However, while the gameplay does have a few kinks, particular in the progression and reward system, it can be still fun regardless of if the fight is long, I guess it’s all dependent on how much you’re into the moment.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, the main pull of this game is the fact that you can play as your own custom character. Honestly it is the best part of the game, mainly because it lets you just go crazy with your character and embrace what you love about your character. The races are pretty limited, with only 5 available, but 3 of them really stand out. The Namekian, Majin and Frieza Race all have tons of unique features you can give them, creating some really awesome looking characters. However the Saiyan and Human races are actually pretty boring in my opinion. The hairstyles are either not very interesting or just ripped from already existing characters, making the character look almost like a pallet swap of what ever character their hair belongs to. The voices are actually pretty funny in this game, and there is a lot to choose from in terms of how you want your OC to sound. The items of clothing are pretty cool as well, giving you a wide variety of costumes from the Dragon Ball universe to choose from. The issue is that the costumes change your stats of your character which may force you to wear outfits you don’t want. The variety of moves you have is also impressive and when combined with 1 of 3 unique play styles. The games leveling system allows you to make your character feel very powerful, racking up huge numbers and improving all aspects of your warrior.
- Story: 4/5 – It’s the basic Dragon Ball story with your OC thrown in. It’s entertaining to witness events unfold as your own creation.
- Characters: 3/5 – The OC has no personality but the character we all know and love/tolerate manage to keep this game afloat in this category.
- Customization: 4/5 – A lot of funky creations can come from this game, and the costumes are varied and unique.
- Gameplay: 3/5 – A mix between a fun dynamic fighting system and a button mashing frenzy with drag out fights.
- Presentation: 3/5 – The graphics are decent, a sharp geometric look to it despite suffering from costume clipping and bad lip sync work on the voice acting.
- Replay Value: 2/5 – Once you complete the game, all that’s left is the remaining PQs you need to complete, after that there’s nothing else to really do.
- (Unique grade) Dragon Ball faithfulness: 3/5 – The spirit of Dragon Ball is represented pretty strongly in this game, characters are faithfully portrayed and the plot is wacky in true Dragon Ball fashion.
- Final Grade: 3/5 – A pretty fun experience that while it drags it’s feet at times, is still a playful romp through the world of Dragon Ball with fun moments, unique customization and a pretty fun story.