REVIEW | ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’: explosive battles, fast-paced action, stunning visuals

Growing up, I have adored the world of “Dragon Ball” from the lighthearted and fun stories of Son Goku and his friends, the tense and dramatic fights of Z and the current continued adventures of the Z fighters in “Super.” However, when it comes to the video games the series offers, most of them have their charm but has quality left to be desired.

My favorites consist of the “Budokai” series, “Super Dragon Ball Z,” “Buu’s Fury” and “Budokai Tenkaichi 3.” All of these except “Buu’s Fury” are fighting games and, despite being fun on their own, don’t offer the depth and mechanics that traditional fighting games offer.

Recently, the newest “Dragon Ball” title, “Dragon Ball FighterZ,” takes this wish that fans have had for years and accomplishes it – but with minor flaws.

“FighterZ” – pronounced “fighters” – was developed by fighting game veterans Arc System Works, known for titles such as “Guilty Gear,” “BlazBlue” and “Persona 4 Arena.”

When it comes to the presentation of the game, Arc System Works nailed the look of the series. The game runs on the Unreal Engine 4, and the team took what they learned from their previous title, “Guilty Gear Xrd” and applied it to “FighterZ.” The models, environments, special moves and the cinematic attacks feel like Arc referenced the original manga and copies the iconic motions straight from the work, which I noticed playing the beta version.

The gameplay of “FighterZ” itself is fast-paced, varied and offers a lot of experimentation for expert players.

The game plays in a three-versus-three style similar to the “Marvel vs. Capcom” series, and each character you choose has differing playstyles. Figuring out which one suits you best or just learning your favorite character is the fun of the game and keeps me coming back for the action.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time figuring out a ton of combos – because the game has auto combos – and the only complex motion for specials is the “fireball,” also known as the Hadouken motion.

While this may be a positive aspect for some players, for me it seems to hold the title back.

Playing “FighterZ” came naturally to me after about an hour, and I felt like that was the limit of the game. Other fighting games, even ones made by Arc System, were easy to learn but hard to master mechanics.

“FighterZ” is just easy. Sometimes it makes the game boring, and this was very apparent to me when I played the Story Mode of the game.

“Dragon Ball FighterZ” features an original story exclusive to the title. Clones of the Z Fighters have been dispersed across the world, and the villains of the past such as Cell and Frieza have been resurrected. At the helm of it all is a mysterious android known as Android 21.

I expected the story to be the sort of generic side story that most games had, and I was right – which I had no problem with. The game does, however, have good character moments when you put together certain characters in a team before a battle.

My problem came from how much time you spend fighting clones in story mode, and fighting them is required to unlock a secret character. After three clone fights, the mode gets repetitive.

I ended up having to do more than 80 of those battles just to get one character. Most of those fights were just me blindly mashing the square button for the auto combo since the artificial intelligence is as challenging as sleeping through a boring lecture.

Unfortunately, the online component of the game didn’t work very well for me. I couldn’t get into any online matches due to a poor dorm internet connection; I had constant dropouts of online lobbies and difficulty connecting to the server at times.

Internet service providers vary, but judging from other responses to the game, I’m not the only one having these problems.

Despite all my problems with the game, I still would recommend it to any fan of “Dragon Ball,” or someone looking to get into fighting games. This can be a good first step. It’s one of the better “Dragon Ball” games out at the moment and is a lot more fun to play with friends for fun, or competitively against experienced players.

Anthony Renteria

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