Looking back over my life, I can honestly say that I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting a handful of people that shared my level of love for the Dragonball series as it was originally meant to be experienced. So you can imagine my excitement when I first heard about the newest game in the Dragonball legacy, being dubbed, “the greatest Dragonball game ever made.” The original description I saw about the game said it would play similar to Marvel vs Capcom, which I wasn’t a huge fan of; but I decided to pick up a copy knowing basically nothing else about it. What I found was a delightfully refreshing experience that managed to deliver hours of enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment as you hone your skill. As for me, my personal experience was an overall feeling of anticipation for my next available moment of play that I can only describe as nostalgia mixed with the added emotional investment of physically participating in a universe I dearly admired. Let’s jump right into what makes this game easily the best game in the Dragonball lineage since Budokai 3 and just an overall breath of fresh air, in general.
You’ll follow all of our beloved heroZ and past villainZ alike as they battle a brand new villain known as Android 21 through three different story arcs that tell slightly different versions of the same NEW story; with the main plot of the game being revealed in the “Android 21” arc(obvs). The story is beautifully written and feels like you’re witnessing a new/untold chapter from the show. Unfortunately, it’s been stated that the game is not (special beam) cannon to the show’s plot; but with the series’ heavy use of time travel, we can all pretend, right? By far my favorite aspect is the character interactions in cutscenes. They talk to each other like old frenemies that haven’t seen each other in years; often picking each other apart through savage dialogue.
No senzu bean will be able to heal your pride from this.
The story mode plays very similar to Budokai 2’s “board game-like” approach. Players have a finite number of moves to complete any given map. If you die, you start the map over. Combat is centered around a 3v3 tag style fighting system similar to MvC3 with a skill support system not unlike the Budokai series use of Capsule Corp’s capsules. You have 3 spaces to equip skills to boost your abilities. As you take damage, your health will slowly recover if you sub in another character, adding a deeper layer of strategy to your style. So if you’re taking a beating with someone, make sure to give him a rest. Making use of all 3 of your characters is a must as the difficulty increases, and increase it shall.
The flawlessly stunning visuals are easily the best part of the game, hands down. Arc System Works has a reputation for making some of the best looking fighting games of all time, with a specialization in 2D art styles and they certainly bring that to the table with FighterZ. The graphics and physics are very crisp and the game is presented in a semi cell shaded type style for both gameplay and cinematics, making for seamless transitions between the two without sacrificing any artistic quality. Executing a special move will enter you into a trance-like state for just a second, pulling you out of the super fast paced action if only to allow you to enjoy a single moment of visual awe before dropping you right back into it. If you happen to KO your opponent with an overkill, it’ll usually trigger a “destructive finish.” Meaning you’ll be treated to watching a short clip of their character flying far from the arena and smashing through a mountain, or something to that effect. The game was developed in Unreal Engine 4, so all off this feels very natural and doesn’t take away from the action at all.
I loved this game. It was so easy to pick up and start playing. The tutorials allowed me to go from button mashing and hoping for the best, to executing combos in new and creative ways. The different difficulty levels made sure I always had a challenge waiting for me. The art and musical composition kept me constantly enthralled. The combat didn’t grow stale, or repetitive and there are a ton of unlockables that’ll keep you busy for a good, long while. Even the competitive online mode is incredible. I usually don’t even bother playing fighting games online due to heavy spamming and cheap, repetitive projectile moves from across the screen. Yeah, I’m talking about you Mortal Kombat online community. Simply put, if you skip on this one, you’re missing out. It’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed “the best Dragonball game ever” and one of the best fighter games ever made and I’ve only touched on a few of the key features. There is so much more I decided to leave out and let you discover on your own.
Looks like someone found all the real life Dragon balls because for die hard fans, this is it. We finally got the game we’ve always wished for.