Nostalgia. All of us have had it and all of us will have it again. It is something bitter sweet and a part of the human condition, a part of moving along and, as I have just experienced, a part of growing up. Life changes and the older you get the less time you have to do the things that you once had a vast passion for. If you, like me, used to rush home after school sports and tune into Tube on SABC 2 then this is perhaps one of those moments. A blast from the past.
Dragonball Z has always been and always will be a huge part of my childhood and the storyline (or “sagas” as us true fans like to say) is something of folklore to the cult following. Missing DBZ after school was a cardinal sin and its popularity is nothing short of astonishing. The most obvious testament to that statement is Xenoverse, the first next generation DBZ game and the latest in a long and illustrious line of titles going as far back as I can remember. It is easy at this point to question the cash cow and wonder how much more a developer can do with DBZ. Many hardcore fans want to see all the best of Dragonball, Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT combined into the perfect collector’s item of a game. This, however, is not the case in Xenoverse and although the array of characters is immense, particularly those from DBZ and DBGT, the latest addition has another trick up its sleeve. A new character. While this concept may seem redundant to some, seeing as no fan wants to play with a character not present in the series, others may be a little more optimistic. Don’t fear though, all characters are playable and so you won’t be stuck playing with your design-a-character and most of the forms you desire are also included – fusions, super saiyans, etc.
A new story is created within the story of DBZ as Trunks comes from the future and informs you of your mission – to prevent time travelling evil villains from going back into the past and changing the course of history. Trunks has found you through a wish from the dragonballs and now requires you to ensure that the course of history remains as is, left in peace and harmony. You are then tasked with choosing a gender and race with options including humans, saiyans and namekians. Once you have designed your character you are then introduced to Toki Toki City, which is more a small town if you ask me. You will then travel through time portals to famous battles throughout the series and help Goku and friends defend the earth (and various other planets) and align the timeline to normal. What I thoroughly enjoyed was that each race had different attributes, so did genders. Also, a small blend of RPG was prevalent as throughout the campaign you will equip certain items, clothing and powers each with differing attributes for different outcomes.
Most battles throughout the game are team battles and players view their character from 3rd person rather than a two dimensional side shot. It is easy to choose between which opponent you will aim your attacks at with a lock on button but it can occasionally become rather crowded with so many characters brawling. Gameplay is not simply button mashing as with so many of the previous titles but, as with most fighting games, it is difficult to completely remove this aspect. Each character has a certain amount of “ki” that is used up during ki attacks and also a certain amount of stamina which is used up during blocking and disappearing behind enemies. Combo moves are still a huge part of the game and equipped special and ultimate attacks can be varied between battles. I enjoyed the diversity of attacks available and thought that the signature manoeuvres of each character was executed very well. Character choice is something that is very important when it comes to DBZ games, for me anyway, and we are not let down in that sense. There are some strange omissions though, which include Baby and Baby Vegeta – but nothing to get too upset about.
For fans, this is something of a treat and for me personally it was something that encapsulated me and took me back to a different stage in my life. I felt like I was in this strange world just like I did when sitting at home watching Tube. The game is nothing amazing and many will find it tedious and very repetitive. The voice acting is either brilliant or horrific, especially in the case of Trunks who always seems very angry. The music is average and Toki Toki Town is rather anti climatic but, and it is a big but, Xenoverse has finally broken from the old and truly made something new. The graphics are simple but very good, as they should be considering its based on a cartoon. This is a title best left for the fans but for those who are not akin to the cult following I would suggest some patience until Mortal Combat hits the shelves.
DBZ Xenoverse Rating: 7/10
Check out the DBZ Xenoverse website: Xenoverse