Playing this game as a long-time fan of Dragon Ball Z and the fighter genre, I can say, without a doubt, that DBZ Fighterz feels like a love letter written to its fans. The game has surpassed both limits and expectations of the fighting game genre, going even further beyond with spectacular original soundtrack and gorgeous visuals, while at the same time being a perfect homage to its anime. In all of its Saiyan glory, DBZ Fighterz does have a small fault in its otherwise perfectly rendered abs which I’ll discuss later. Now lets break it down, in Lucio style.
The story begins with the player finding themselves in the (stolen) body of our spikey haired protagonist Goku, due to a global soul disturbance that has resulted in the rest of the God-like DBZ cast (especially Yamcha) being drastically weakened. With characters only returning to their full strength when you control them, (in a peculiar, a steroid filled version of Freaky Friday) you progress through the story to unravel the mystery that surrounds Android 21 and her army of clones. The story is split into three main arcs, each centred around a different character, leading to an epic showdown with the aforementioned android. For a typical fighter the campaign is quite lengthy, however it’s definitely worth a playthrough to unlock Android 21 as a playable character.
“The game has surpassed both limits and expectations of the fighting game genre”
Unlike previous games in its franchise, DBZ Fighterz also includes the ability to strengthen the bonds you have with certain characters. This improves their abilities and power as well as open up unique dialogue. The campaign also boasts hilarious interactions between characters, such as the Cell mocking Nappa for missing out on the apparent bargain sale that is going super saiyan, or the Ginyu force going into detail about the health care plan featured in Fireza’s (disposable) army. Right from the beginning you gain the ability to select characters that you have rescued, incorporating them into your team of three as you battle against leagues and leagues of clones. With regards to the gameplay, the campaign can get monotonous with the constant pummelling of evil clones, however the power up system and unique dialogue makes up for this; especially when beating the snot out of the enemy whilst Vegeta cries out his Saiyan Pride in a testosterone fuelled rage.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best fighting games of this year and maybe this decade, Dragon Ball Fighterz brings new innovative combat that feels fresh and exhilarating. Consisting of a basic fighting game control scheme with the three primary attack buttons, being light, medium, heavy, and the fourth being a special move attack, the simplicity of the controls makes it easy for newcomers to pick up. Players fight in 3-person teams with team mechanics such as dynamic switching between characters and assists which can range from basic attacks to super moves. The game lends a caring hand to beginners by its introduction of auto combos which require only one button to be pressed multiple times, providing both decent damage and fantastic visuals. This is not to say that the game is without depth; additional investment of time and effort into mastering more advanced combos and being creative with in- game mechanics can lead to truly terrifying results. Each character features their own distinct playstyle, for example Android 16 who is a bulky grapple type character and Hit, who is a strong counter-based character.
“The simplicity of the controls makes it easy for newcomers to pick up”
There is plenty to learn and to discover, with unique in-game cutscenes triggered by certain actions (recreating moments from the anime), as well as some characters possessing unique abilities. Additional features of the combat including ‘Dragon Rush’ which is your basic dash towards your opponent and ‘Vanish’ a teleport that acts as a combo breaker.
The epic fantasma that are the super moves truly make the game feel like Dragon Ball. Rendered with in-game graphics, they are a sight to behold and to top off these brutal scenes are cinematics that occur if you defeat one of the opponent’s characters with a super or heavy attack, ranging from your opponent hurtling through pillars of rock or being obliterated off the face of the earth.
Despite my unending praise of DBZ Fighterz there is an issue beneath its almost perfect form; the online multiplayer can be some of the most rage inducing material on the planet, with connection issues that can make or break a match, completely ruining the spontaneous nature of the gameplay. With patches on their way, these server issues should be resolved soon, but in the meantime the offline options are more than enough to satiate your interest and provide endless fun.
I without a doubt, recommend this game to any fighting game enthusiast or just a casual Dragon Ball fan. For me, this game is near perfect but it hasn’t reached its final form, it’s a combination of everything good about Dragon Ball and the fighting genre, however the online latency issues let this masterpiece down.
Studio: Bandai Namco Entertainment. Director: Junya Motomura. Genre: Fighting. Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One