Dragon Ball Xenoverse – Review

The only Dragon Ball games I played before this were the SNES ones, Budokai 3 and Burst Limit.  With that in mind, I had passed on purchasing Dragon Ball XV simply because when I read the reviews people described the fighting as simple and boring and when I looked at gameplay it looked hard to keep track of; everyone looked like little flies whizzing around, occasionally colliding and sometimes shooting little beams at long range.  I didn’t have any sense of the large-scale exaggeration that is evoked with Dragon Ball Z.

However, fate intervened, and I found myself not only with a copy of the game for my birthday from my brother, but two systems to play it on, courtesy of my wife, so that I didn’t even have the “out of memory” excuse.

Graphics:

I love the environments in this game.  They’re huge!  I’m not saying you’ll never touch the edges of a stage but there’s definitely room for everybody.  I didn’t run into the framerate issues that other people complained about when playing on the PS3… Just the occasional slowdown with maximum players and all of them doing their Ultimate Attacks.

Player models looked perfect.  Of course more customization options would be grand but it’s not too hard to be unique through your playstyle.  Weirdly enough though I saw a lot of copies of established characters.  (Is everyone a 4 year old with a character named “SS4 GOGETA”?)

There’s huge pop-in with player-created characters, but what else is new?

Sound:

The overworld music is disco, but catchy.  The new cover of CHA LA HEAD CHA LA is nice to hear.  All of the sound effects are faithful to the original, all the dubs have the voices.  It’s satisfying to hear your character yell the name of the attack.  “FINAL FLASH!”  The occasional sound glitch happens with the in-game cutscenes (Frieza’s transformations seem to not make any noise until the very last moment, making all the debris flying around beforehand confusing.)  The in-battle music is… forgettable. Maybe I just need to turn it up?

The character interactions while you play eventually get repetitive, but I always found they helped me get into the scenario, which is really important with any RPG.  I like that all the characters react to some weird Saiyan intruding, and that they all underestimate me.  I like that if Nappa sees Vegeta go Super Saiyan, he freaks out a little bit.  I like that Goten keeps asking about that toy Trunks offered him as a consolation for losing the Strongest Under the Heavens Tournament.

I just sort of wish they’d remember me from battle to battle.  “Hey remember that dude that totally turned the tide of that battle with Majin Buu?  This guy kinda reminds me of him…”

Gameplay:

If you just go in mashing the melee buttons, you’re going to lose.  Strategy is exciting if you’re playing with a friend, but as a single player you’ll find the real leisure is when you start getting attacks you recognize from the show.  Galick Gun, Final Flash, Instant Transmission, Special Beam Cannon, Death Beam, these are all favorites of mine that made me giddy.  The first time my character yelled “FINAL FLASH!” and obliterated the opponent – such moments are iconic.

The first time you turn Super Saiyan you’ll burn it out in about 3 moves… but once you start beefing up your ki, Super Saiyan starts lasting a lot longer… then you get your energy charge attack (in which you power up with that iconic DBZ yelling… you almost expect the action to cut off so that the narrator can describe “the next exciting episode of Dragon Ball Z….”).

I found the AI to be frustrating.  Enemy AI is good, which is different from being cheap.  Ally AI on the other hand is a mixed bag.  This especially becomes annoying in the beginning when battles are long and grueling, with your power level enough to ensure your survival but certainly not enough to deal with someone else’s enemy for him.

STOP DYING KRILLEN OMG YOU –

I’m good.

The idea then, becomes to get enough power to either a) dispose of your own enemies quickly or b) be able to absorb damage from behind while you double team your weak ally’s enemy.  Vegeta’s AI in particular loves to attack me from behind while I’m working someone’s lifebar down.  Weird, because his build seems to focus on his Ki attacks…

Replay Value:

I don’t know about replay value… I can’t see myself grinding from the beginning just to try being a Namekian now that I can kill people with a single move.  Apparently there are all sorts of incentives to do so but it all sounds so tedious.

So if I’m going to do this mathemagically, I have to give Dragon Ball XV a solid 8.  Very fun first time around, awesome moments of creativity, beautiful graphics!  A 10 needs to be a game you can come back to and never be tired of.  I haven’t played a fighting game like that since the first Soul Calibur.

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