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Dragonball XV: Final Review

 

Dragonball Z Supreme Kai of Time

Intro

Does anyone else thing the Supreme Kai of Time looks pretty good for being over 75million years old? I know I do, and that’s just one of the strange and hard-to-believe concepts in a game which revolves around time travel.

But then again, no one who bought into the Dragonball universe in the first place was going to comment when it’s similarly hard to believe that a race of ape-like super-warriors can transform into glowing night lights and destroy the galaxy’s toughest creatures. Yet here we are, playing that very same game, repeatedly throwing ourselves at its Parallel Quests and searching for the right look or the right move for our own characters. However, no matter how much you invest in the game, time-wise or otherwise, everything eventually comes down to the luck of the draw.

Dragonball Buu

Story and narrative

The story wasn’t so predictable that I lost any interest, but it wasn’t so interesting that I was enthralled. The format works well for repetitive missions and changes to key events in the true Dragonball history make for an easy excuse to team up with the bad guys. You can enjoy the game for it’s story but if that’s all you’re interested in, you’re likely to be asking for a little more come the end of it. What I do enjoy are the cutscenes that look like a real episode of the Anime (remade for HD of course). Although, they are rare and prevent screenshots being taken, but still work as a story-telling device. They’re also a nice reward for the Dragonball purists who expect a little more than your simple hack-and-slash game with Goku as a playable character.

Of course, even after the credits roll, there’s another part of the story that allows you to go back in time before the Saiyan Saga. All of this is neatly tied together, but the excuse ‘there’s an evil energy coming from the Time Nest’ or the almost-stolen ‘I sense a disturbance (in the force)’ gets very repetitive, very quickly.

The mentoring system is a key part in the overall game, it makes the Z fighters a little more involved with what you are trying to achieve, and adds a few familiar faces to the world in TokiToki. Despite this, some of the moves they ask you to master might not fit into your character’s playstyle or indeed your own combat philosophy. Learning strike moves is all well and good, but my character’s attack is so low that the moves take up a slot that could otherwise be useful. Therefore, I must create a new character to reach 100% with that mentor. I get that this adds to the whole experience, but you never saw Goku lazily spamming Ki blasts because his punch wouldn’t hurt Freiza.

Combat

As I’ve already commented, a game, based on an anime, that’s based on fighting, should excel at combat. Unfortunately, Dragonball XV lets itself down with it’s fairly simplistic combos and spammable finishers. Right from the word go the game makes you choose between Melee and Ki-based combat, and creating a balanced character often means that your attacks are too weak to progress. A clever tie-in with the story, no doubt to increase the longevity of the primary game mode, are the realistic jumps in enemy levels. I originally criticized the game, for dumping you out of one Saga and then throwing you straight into another which will literally tear your character to pieces. However, it adds an element of realism (within the realms of the Dragonball universe) and limits the success of throwing yourself at the game until it relents. Regardless of any redeeming qualities it may have, success in combat lies much more on your items and special moves than it does your melee ability. Even the Strike Supers are limited, creating two distinct types of characters that can dish out damage. Those who do it up close and personal, and those who can blast you from afar. Dragonball Z Cell Powering Up

Anyone aiming to create a balanced character is likely to come up against a wall at some point in the game where they just aren’t dealing enough damage to beat the clock on the PQ’s or take down the enemies in the main story.

Co-op and PvP

And thus we move on to one of the parts of the game I was looking forward too: Co-operation. Before getting the game I had high expectations of this. Much in the same way that Goten and Trunks fought together to face off against Buu and Goku and Piccolo united to destroy Raditz, there was plenty of precedent for this sort of mode in-game. However, I was unable to connect to the server for the first week of the game, and even then the multiplayer rooms were unreliable and often kicked you out. In truth, I don’t think the game was expected to be as popular as it was – a huge oversight.

I did get a chance to team up with an old friend playing Parallel Quests and this is particularly fun. When the server behaves there is little lag and basically no delay between communicating and combat, so you can work some serious combos. Plus, each player gets their own loot table, so it’s a great opportunity to really try and farm that one item you are looking for. Many quests get easier with a second person there, especially fights which pit you against multiple enemies, but it does create it’s own problems. Dragonball Z Gohan

If you have unlocked a PQ, but have yet to play it solo and are not team leader, you will not be scored on your contribution to the quest. For example:


One of the quests towards the end of the PQ list asks you to fight Super Saiyan God Goku. You chase him through two portals into space and need to hand his ass to him on a plate. He’s powerful, but not unbeatable solo for anyone Lvl 50+

I asked Shenron for a powerful character and got SS4 Gogeta, my friend took Vegito. Between the two of us we managed to pound Goku into the floor, making it to the third and final stage of the mission before 90 seconds had passed. In space we ended up at other ends of the field and fired energy blasts before using Ultimate moves to finish him off. As party leader, Vegito scored a B and got a fair chuck of Score (exp). As a member of the party, but having yet to finish the quest solo, I did not receive a grade, only a Score.

All of this seems a little unfair given that we both did an even share of the damage and he was not carrying me through the level, if anything I did more damage. This could be in place to stop people with higher level friends ‘boosting’ their character, but it seems stupid to give out the Score points and exp and not a grade.

 

Conclusion

Despite being a big fan of the Dragonball Universe and this game, I can’t give it any sort of blanket praise. It’s redeeming qualities stop it from being a colossal disaster, but I can’t in all honesty say that it would survive in this market as a fighting game. The characters and Dragonball brand save it from being terrible, but can’t do enough to make it brilliant. Combat needs completely rethinking and some of the PQ rules need changing slightly, both things that can be patched. The addition of new characters over time will add to the game’s replay-ability a little, but there is no denying that once you’ve unlocked some of the powerful characters you’re not likely to go back and use some of the weaker ones. Overall, it was a good try, but the world isn’t quite a social hub yet, and server issues need to be fixed quickly, or the impetus from the game’s release will be lost.

 

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Dragonball XV: Initial Second Impressions

Goku and Piccolo DBX

Intro

Despite the clumsily-worded title, I do intend to get through some more of my adventures in Dragonball XV and not just waste your time with posts that aren’t even close to being SEO friendly. If you don’t know what’s been said already then have a little click here so I don’t repeat myself.

Although I’m still recovering from my hand injury, I am now managing to get some serious Universe-saving on Dragonball XV. My Namekian fighter, Rolo, was still a suitable conduit for the story missions until I crossed over into the later stages of the Cell Saga. But once the green insect-like monster had appeared, the game threw up a wall which I don’t doubt a few of you have already encountered. Believe it or not, the problem isn’t with Cell. The supposed bane of Earth doesn’t actually feel that strong compared to Hercule.

Meek and weak

The time bandits that are zooming around the temporal world and altering things decided to give the World Martial Arts Champion a little boost, putting him up to the same level as say, Goku in Super Saiyan 3. Finally, he becomes useful! But he also becomes your enemy. This is where parts of the game start to fall apart. If I’d have been barreling down the story and not done any of the parallel quests, then I’d simply call it negligence on my part, but I had been doing them. In fact, I’d cleared every stage I could up to that point – having even gone back for a few replays to farm a few points. But Hercule was kicking my ass. Not to mention at the same time you have to keep an eye on Teen Gohan who’s fighting Cell.

He's a pain, but he's not the biggest threat.

He’s a pain, but he’s not the biggest threat.

At this point in the game the Parallel Quests become quite difficult as well. There’s one on Namek that I had a serious amount of trouble with and Rolo only made it through with the help of Cell and Full Power Freiza. But this effectively stops your character progression dead. Especially since as a Namekian, I don’t have any transformation powers (except Kaioken) to help me out. But King Kai’s technique is a massive stamina drain. One teleport-dodge too many and you might as well have not powered up.

The flaw

Without the sort of power I needed to start getting Ultimate Finishes on those PQs, leveling slows down to a snail’s pace. The only option is to start using other characters to fight your battles, something that feels a little wrong.

I get that your character isn’t supposed to be the hero, you are never supposed to be as strong as the fighter who you are helping, in most cases. However, it’s fairly ridiculous that I can beat Cell in the story, but I can’t beat Super Saiyan Goku with the help of three characters.

The only option for progression was to start using more powerful characters, Z fighters and villains from the main Dragonball series. Of course, using Goku or Gohan with Super Saiyan abilities makes all the fights that much simpler. Too simple. If necessary, I can stand in Super Saiyan 2 and spam Super Kamehameha at my enemies until they drop. I don’t need to fight properly or with any variety, and this links back to what I said in my earlier post about the combat being fairly repetitive.

I’ve invested a great deal of time into Rolo, and used my Zeni to buy him cool gear, yet at the moment the vast majority of the game is beyond his power. I feel like I’m cheating a little – using a Super Saiyan when I chose a Namek. I may have to change my mind if I can unlock Fuse abilities, such as ‘with Nail’ and ‘with Kami’ but for the time being I’m just your average Green soldier.Goku Super Saiyan

I’ll be the first to admit that being able to use the Z fighters does make the game a little more varied, it means that it isn’t just me fighting as Rolo every time. However, I designed him with the intention that he would be useful in every battle, made his stats a good balance of everything, but now he’s useless unless I level him. To do this efficiently I must play with a different character.

Thanks, no thanks, but thanks

Despite all that, at least there is an option. A way to progress forward. Many of these games that are starting to use a ‘shared world’ system ask you to rely on other players. This would have been an option for me, I could find some allies or some powerful friends to help level. But the server trouble is still plaguing the PS4, and I can’t stay connected long enough to form a party. I understand this is an issue for a lot of people and it’s causing some serious doubts about the game. I imagine that I’m not the only one having trouble leveling quickly as a result.

I did clear the Cell Saga, and I’m waiting to get to level 40 before I try to go on to the Buu Saga. I’m a little concerned about the Android’s being missing at the moment, they were a big part of Dragonball Z, I mean, Krillen married 18!

I guess those pesky Time Bandits didn’t want to mess with that timeline, it’s already weird enough.

Conclusion

So, this was more of a rant that an actual piece of writing. I’m loving the game, yet at the same time I’m frustrated by the fact that my character feels so weak. The combat certainly needs sorting out, the Ki stuff is fine, but melee combat and combos needs rethinking a little, you can’t string together enough damage to beat many people to a pulp and therefore find yourself relying on the Kamehameha wave to dish out the serious hits.

What’s more is that some of the PQs that would be simple are made much more difficult by the companions you’re given. Fighting by myself I could take on Yamcha, Tien, Piccolo, Krillen and Vegeta in succession. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t need to use Teen Gohan either, Rolo could deal with it. However, I’m also joined by Hercule (the real Hercule, not the Time Bandit-improved Hercule) who can take all of four hits from Vegeta before he’s dead and I’ve failed.

Even if you call this point in the game a ‘gear check’ you’re still loosing because a dumb computer doesn’t know to move the weakling out of the way and let the grown ups fight. (Imagine Vegeta saying that last sentence, it sounds better.)

Fights might be longer and fairly realistic when you look at how well Raditz would do against a SS2, but I can’t help thinking that the Namek who held off Freiza shouldn’t have any trouble against Jeice and Burter.

 


Dragonball Xenoverse: Initial Impressions

Intro

There was never going to be any debate about who should be the star of the show, and much like the TV series, I too have gone with our plucky Saiyan from Earth – Goku. Perhaps the best moment in my childhood was when Krillen died and the protagonist started to glow yellow in his rage. Ever since that defining moment, DBZ has been one of the Western world’s favourite anime series and has justifiably been ported to every medium it could be, including videogames.

A brief history

Some of the great Dragonball games of ages past deserve a quick look at, especially if we’re going to look at the latest edition. Undeniably, Budokai is the best. A definitive gaming experience that rivaled even Tekken, Dead or Alive and Mortal Kombat as a fighting platform. Tenkaichi also had its merits and was one of the best things I played on the Ps2. Since then there has been a series of games that flew under the radar, including a few short-lived MMO variations of Dragonball that didn’t quite make the same splash in Europe as they did in Asia or America.

True to the anime

Xenoverse or XV is the latest attempt to make an interactive, online Dragonball-themed fighting experience, and it’s worth your time. The story is fairly simple. Trunks asks the almighty Shenron for a strong ally to help fight disruptions in time that have altered Dragonball history. All the famous scenes from the TV series return, remastered for the current-gen hardware, so even if you’ve forgotten a few of the key plot points, there’s plenty of cinematography to fill in the gaps. Plus, it’s not too preachy, so if, like myself, you remember clearly everything that happens in each Saga, you don’t have to suffer through a history lesson.Dragonball Goku

The true fan will notice the subtle changes in the timeline a little better than your casual fan, but it’s its own reward for your dedication to the series.

In case it escaped you, Trunks’ strong ally is you! A character you design from the five available races (Human, Saiyan, Namek, Majin and Freiza’s race) teams up with Trunks to go through rifts in time and fix Dragonball history.

Of course, that means you aren’t zooming around blasting Freiza apart, you’re just popping up to make sure that Goku is able to do what he needs to do.

Combat

Dragonball Rolo

Fate’s Namekian: Rolo

The character creation is adequate for the game, not overly complex and not too simplistic. You can make a character that feels like something you designed, but at the same time it won’t look out of place in the DBZ universe. Race does hamper what you can wear and a few of the abilities you can use, but in general you are free to make a mini-Majin Buu wear Android 16’s outfit if you wish. Combat on the other hand is a bit more straight forward. Attacks are split into Strikes and Ki, and the variation is minimal. You’re likely to pick up a combo that works for you and then keep using it till you just aren’t powerful enough to beat an enemy. It’s at this point that you need to level up and get a few better abilities.

My first character is a Namekian named Rolo (Three guesses what I was eating while I named him) and he’s okay. Because he’s a Namek his physical ability and strength is naturally lower than that of a Saiyan, but his Ki power is greater. I’ve had to tailor my play-style a little to get him to work to his advantages. Essentially, I wait for the enemy to charge at me and smack them head on with a Kamehameha or Galick Gun. One of the great things about the game is that you have to unlock those abilities, rather than being gifted them.

Most of the iconic ones come through the mentoring system. This system sees you take one of the characters from Dragonball lore as your Master and learn from them. For example, Rolo’s first Master was Piccolo, so he mastered a few of the Namek’s weaker moves before being gifted Special Beam Cannon.

Hitting a wall

All the above is fine, it works as a game. But the first moment it really feels like an online game is when you come up against an enemy that you know you can’t beat. For poor Rolo that enemy was Super Saiyan Goku. No matter how I approached him, I didn’t have the damage-dealing ability to take out a Super Saiyan – after all, I’m a lowly Namek.

In the anime I’d go into the Time Chamber and train hard – it’s not so different here. You move onto the side missions (Parallel Quests) and start farming. The better you perform in each the more points you get, so there’s an extra incentive there, but eventually it does come down to a grind, which feels like a little bit of a drag. I accept that in any online game there has to be an investment of time, it’s easy to beat Captian Ginyu with a level 20, but Freiza will cause the same character some issues and you may end up having to call for some reinforcements.

If you’re having trouble on the Parallel’s, you can call in a friend rather than one of the CPU characters to assist you. If said friend happens to be a level 50 Saiyan who can decimate Goku with a single Riot Javelin then so be it. But most of the time it works just as well to have another real person around so you can co-ordinate your strikes.

Conclusion

So far, I’m a big fan of the game. But I’m also a big fan of the Anime. If I look at this objectively I can see the combat is shallow and most of the attacks you learn get repetitive very quickly. The online community is also likely to feel a bit like that of Destiny sooner or later, where the gulf between those who have hardcore-playing friends and those who don’t soon gets too vast. However, for the time being this is an enjoyable fighting game that allowed me to recapture one of my favourite parts of my youth. Don’t expect miracles, but it’s thoroughly entertaining.