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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.