Hands-On Preview: Dragon Ball XenoVerse - Back to the Future
Growing up my parents refused to pay for cable and I always found myself saddled to the constraints of two channels to get my cartoon fix.
I was blessed with the ability to watch shows like Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men and Beast Wars on a regular basis, but I was always eluded by the “premium” shows my friends would always talk about.
One of these shows was Dragon Ball Z, a delicacy that I was only able to enjoy in random spurts when I was able to go to my friends homes after school to catch afternoon Toonami.
I always found something enjoyable about the concept of super powered alien ninjas brawling across foreign worlds at blistering speeds.
It was fun, though perhaps a bit incoherent due to my inability to watch the show in its intended order of events. While I grew out of it quickly, it’s still a show I respect and remember for bringing me and my friends together during several afternoons while we played with our Super Saiyan Goku toys.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse, in many ways, reminds me of the times I spent huddled in a basement around a TV with my childhood friends to watch the show.
Its focus on community and social interaction brings fans together to enjoy the series in a new light with its time traveling tale that makes old stories fresh once again.
The game’s story revolves around mysterious events disrupting the classic Dragon Ball Z timeline, making events that fans have been familiar with for years play out in a variety of altering ways from what they should have.
Trunks and the Supreme Kai of Time witnessed these alternations and have recruited player created characters to go back in time and restore the timeline.
Players can create a character that is either Saiyan, Namekian, Earthling, Majin or of Frieza’s still unnamed race. In my brief time playing the game, I was a female Majin character that was created for the demo and played out the scenario where Captain Ginyu swapped bodies with Goku.
With my character in the mix a few extra body swaps occurred and I was in control of Ginyu for a short period of time before eventually sorting everything out and getting Ginyu stuck in a frog.
Combat is fast and furious, as combatants float about the arena and engage in flurries of light and heavy attacks. Holding the right trigger on the controller let me augment my attacks to unleash special moves to unleash attacks like several blasts of energy to pelt foes.
It reminds me a lot of watching the show, especially when battles transition to cutscenes that show off beautiful character models as more combatants are added or locations change.
The fights are only slightly weighed down by a bit of a wonky camera, which is accentuated by a lock on feature that takes some getting use to.
Playing a short two vs two battle — as Goku with Vegeta as my partner facing off against Raditz and Nappa — I got whipped by the AI after trying to mash my way through their defenses in an embarrassing display.
While spamming away works for a bit, you definitely need to pick your spots and be smart with your fighting as the game seemingly has a decent amount of depth.
What I most enjoyed exploring was XenoVerse’s hub world, called Tokitoki City. I was able to explore the zone for a short while, which is divided into three areas: single player, multiplayer and shops.
Tokitioki City can house up to 200 players per instance; this aspect makes the city a living breathing area for players to roam about, make gestures to nearby players and improve their character, giving it almost a MMO feeling.
It reminded me a lot of visiting the home town in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate since, just as in that title, XenoVerse lets you change your wardrobe and gear up with new abilities before venturing out with friends.
An adventure that is both familiar and full of new twists, a fun and free-movement based combat system, the ability to customize your own character and a social hub to give the game a greater sense of community than past titles in the franchise makes its future look very bright.
The 12-year-old in me would go crazy to have this game, so I’m sure those who have been enjoy the show for years will be more than happy with what developer Dimps is attempting to provide.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse releases on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC on February 24th, 2015.