It’s finally here! Dragonball FighterZ! From the first trailer I’ve been looking forward to this more than any other fighting game..! So with all the hype and one of the most played beta’s in a long time, was it worth the wait? Short answer: Oh God yes!! For the long answer keep reading…
So what’s the first thing that hits you about FighterZ? What makes it so special? Well it’s obviously the visuals for a start; it seems like developers Arc System Works hit upon something that a lot of anime games could do with; it’s almost like the conversation went: “We bought the development rights for one of the most influential animes of all time… So how about we make it look near-identical the original anime?”… And it does! With a gorgeous 2.5D cel-shaded presentation, FighterZ immerses you in the universe like no other Dragonball game before it, feeling more like you’re controlling an episode of the series rather than playing a game. Each character is lovingly recreated and designed based on their most popular appearances to date (Notable examples being Yamcha’s long haired style and Goku and Vegeta using their Cell saga costumes). Relying heavily on the styles of the Street Fighter games of old, FighterZ fills your screen with a dizzying array of bright flashes and screen filling finishing moves that not only replicate the shows stand out moments but also make you feel like an absolute monster as you leave your foe no room to move! There is a subtly to each character model that more recent Dragonball games failed to master with attacks causing your fighters hair and clothing to ripple and move in a way I didn’t expect for a cartoon style cell shaded game. Though the way the characters sit against the backdrop is the real highlight for me with everything looking like a page from the source manga (Especially if you edit your screenshots into black and white) and again leaving you feeling like a part of the universe rather than just another player.
So I touched on the finishers before so it seems right to talk about the fighting as a whole. Each combatant has been near perfectly balanced so no one really stands above the others as the go to character which has always been a problem for a series of games based on a show about stronger and stronger fighters. Former and weaker characters usually to avoid like Yamcha and Nappa can now easily hold their own against the monstrous powers of god-level characters like Beerus, Goku and Frieza so it’s really worth testing them all and just seeing who’s style best fits your own. I found myself quite attached to Krillin which I can tell you came as a real shock! While there’s a lot to learn to make sure you’re competent in battle it’s not exactly difficult to pick up and just a few tutorials in you’ll find yourself smashing your foes around the stage like a bad ass and having proper battles! Taking another leaf from the How to Street Fighter book each fight is a 3 on 3 affair being able to tag out on the fly and bring others in from the side-lines to perform cross combinations on unsuspecting foes. The harder to master aspects like countering and dodging are just something you can pick up over time and in fairness I still haven’t quite figured it out but I’m having fun learning as I go. So after beating the bad guy around for a while you’ll want to end things with a lot of flair! Best to bust out your ultimate moves then, and oh man do they look impressive! Each fighter has a finisher lifted right from the series normally being either unavoidable if timed right of so damaging that even being clipped just a little will shave off health like no man’s business, with great examples being Goku turning into his Super Saiyan 3 form to deliver a final Kamehameha, the infamous Father-Son Kamehameha, and Vegeta’s Final Flash. Even better is landing a powerful blow to finish off and enemy and being treated to a quick cut scene of them being thrown out of the stage and through the background scenery!
An added bonus of the games close ties to the source material is the way each character is presented. With the original voice cast again doing a great job bringing their roles to life in both Japanese and English, and the current fighting game staple of having each character talk to one and other pre fight making each match up just that little bit more unique. My highlight of these ties to the series though was finding that finishing off an enemy with the correct move would lead to a short animation mirroring the scene from the anime! For example I beat Cell with Gohan and upon using the Super Kamehameha to get rid of the last of his health I was treated to a FMV of Cell being wiped out by the Father Son Kamehameha! Needless to say I was a happy little fan boy.
Now how about the story? I don’t want to say much to spoil what I found to be a very interesting and engaging bit of storyline but I will say that new girl Android 21 is a welcome addition to the cast bringing a certain moral ambiguity the series lacked. Playing through each section as a new character the story is a great way to test out each fighter and learn the ropes whilst also enjoying the series usual excitement, joy and humour that kept most of us happy as kids back in the 90s!
Overall I’d say Dragonball FighterZ is an incredible addition to a franchise that has already given us so much. While not shying away from what makes Dragonball so great it’s also unafraid to take the franchise in a bold new direction with a style not seen before but that we’ll hopefully see again!
I’m giving Dragonball FighterZ 9/10