Well, there’s certainly a large, varied cast here. From Dragonball Z to Naruto, through to shows and Mangas that I’ve never heard of. Chances are if you’re into anime, there’ll be someone here you know and love. Each franchise is represented by at least a couple of characters, though to be honest, a lot of them were lost on me. But at least I’ve got a few recommendations for things to check out! Unfortunately, while the roster is large, characters often come off as poor imitations.
The opening scenes, as well as select cutscenes later in the game, are fully voiced (in Japanese, by the anime’s voice cast it would seem, judging by the DBZ characters) and feature over the top action and effects. But it’s not long before things just feel off. Animations are stiff, almost non-existent at times, with most scenes seeing them standing, slightly swaying from side to side, while voice work turns into basic text-boxes that don’t really have the tone or inflection of the characters.
The choice of a more realistic look for the art style doesn’t help matters either. Realistic textures and lighting mixed with the anime proportions (those eyes… those dead, unblinking, soulless eyes) gives the whole aesthetic a feel of a Steam fan that’s learning to mod. The use of Unreal engine allows fancy effects, but outside of the battles, everything looks a bit early era 360. With such a broad range of loved properties, perhaps animating them all faithfully would be too demanding a task, but things have gone too far the other way.
Alleviating this somewhat is the custom character that you create at the start of the game. The options available are quite extensive, allowing you to design the anime hero of your dreams! Or at least your twisted vision of what would happen if Kenshiro and Piccolo had a love child, whatever floats your boat. Once created, various outfits can be unlocked through play, as well as other characters’ special moves for use in battle. It’s a bit of a shame that there are no custom moves for your avatar, but really, being able to have the Burning Attack and Kamehameha in one person is fine by me.
This all comes about at the hands of Frieza. Getting up to no good, as usual. We start the game with him attacking a city as Goku, Luffy and Naruto attempt to fend him off. A stray death ray hits a passerby, but thankfully, Trunks is on hand to revive them. Using an Umbra cube, he is able to bring you back as a hero, giving you power beyond that which you had before, allowing you to stand toe-to-toe with the strongest warriors around. Of course, this means you can now join the Jump Force in protecting the world from ne’er-do-wells. And so you will.
The plot’s fairly standard anime stuff really, the hook of all the different universes colliding no more outlandish than the skinny kid who can destroy a Super Sayain with ease. Now, let’s get to the battle system. Easily the best part of the game, it’s clear most of the focus went here. All battles are one-on-one affairs, though occasionally you’ll have a team of two or three that you can swap between at will. The camera follows your enemy’s position from a pulled back third-person view, eliminating the problem a lot of 3D fighters have – keeping track of the action and your opponent. Here, you’re free to focus on your attack and defense instead.
Controls are kept simple, with light/heavy attacks, grab, and jump, all on the face buttons. A pull of the right trigger changes these to special moves that deal massive damage, but must be timed and positioned right in order to work. Some moves will attempt to position you as part of the attack, seeing you charge towards foes ready to strike, but that just leaves you open to a counterattack. Everything moves at breakneck speed once things kick off, with characters zipping about all over the place.
Repeatedly press X for example, sees a basic combo that looks flashy, is fast, and does pretty decent damage. This can be countered with a well timed press of the dodge button, giving a small window for your enemy to retaliate, or, a tap of LB will have you dash backwards out of danger at the expense of your dash meter – otherwise used for closing in on them in an instant. Sustain too much damage and you will be able to Awaken. You’ll gain more attack and defense and unlock a final ultimate special that can deal some health bar draining damage output.
Vegeta’s Final Flash, for example, will take off nearly half on its own provided you hit it fully. It’s a great way to get losing players back in the fight in a triumphant way (classic anime), but if not capitalized on, will all be for nothing. And you’ll need all the help you can get too. Even some early fights are rock hard, especially if you are unfamiliar with the character and what they are capable of. But, as fun as the combat can be, in single player, it soon becomes a bit of a grind. Book-ended by the previously mentioned text-box mannequins, often you’ll find that you spend longer looking at the loading screens than the game itself.
Load times are horrendous, with long waits between even separate cutscenes (many of which only last a few seconds) and a hub world that is as sparse and bland as it is confusingly laid out. You see, missions are granted at a mission kiosk. Simple enough. But sometimes you’ll need to talk to a certain character to progress and unlock further missions. However, the game doesn’t tell you this, or signpost it in any helpful way. There is a mini map you can pull up, but the range on it is laughable – to the point of uselessness.
An exclamation will pop up over characters’ heads when you’re close enough, but the mini map won’t show this until you already know where you’re going. Add in the poor layout making it easy to miss pathways or get lost, and several times I found myself aimlessly wandering in circles just hoping to find something to point me in the right direction. The motion blur, which works wonders in combat, looks horrendous here too. But the hub is there for another purpose as well; an online social space.
Connect to the servers and you’ll see dozens of other players milling about (probably lost). A basic emote system is in place, though no one responded to any of my attempts to make contact. Likewise, I didn’t see anyone else using them, so perhaps there’s an issue with it showing up to other players. Regardless, politely waving into the void is about the extent of your interaction with them. Outside of that, too many people crowd the kiosks and make it all but impossible to interact with the mission givers or shop keepers.
Online play is here, which does work well to be fair. The pace is slowed down somewhat, with your special ability meter charging slower to match. I didn’t feel any noticeable lag, inputs were still snappy, and the challenge of a real person is as alluring as ever. You’re able to take your customized avatar into battle too, so be prepared to see some… interesting creations, no doubt. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme of things, with so many fan favorite series here, it’s quite disappointing that so little effort appears to have been put in overall.
With such a vast amount of iconic material on show here, it’s disappointing to see the sheer lack of effort put forward in regards to its overall execution. The game’s combat is indeed reliably fun, but this means very little in the face of its several shoddy design choices, its horrendously lengthy loading times, and its cast of characters that are painfully devoid of characterization. Fans of the IPs would do well to temper their expectations.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.