Dragonball Z, one of the most popular animes ever created, has seen its fair share of video game adaptations. It wasn't until the release of Dragonball Z: Budokai that I started to take notice only because the PlayStation 2 offered a significant jump in quality through cell shading and various other effects to create a visual experience closer to the fidelity show (at the time) than any game before it. With Dragonball Xenoverse, Bandai Namco intends to bring the videogame to an even closer level of parity.
Sadly, there wasn't much to see during the presentation for Dragonball Xenoverse, a game so Alpha that the "Xenoverse" portion of the title was only recently announced. Xenoverse aims to take full advantage of the power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, using all sorts of advance cell shaded textures, effects and TV show assets to make it the best looking Dragonball game to date. One example was the ability to see facial reactions of the fighters as they are routinely beaten up. This may not sound like a big deal, especially to those who haven't experienced a Dragonball game, but in order to convey the character's reactionary pain from an attack, earlier version of the game typically interrupted the action for a brief cutscene to show damage and its toll on the character. In Xenoverse, facial expressions occur in real time. Other real time effects include destructible environments and, the most exciting of the game's promises, character transformations. Just imagine: turning into a Super Saiyan mid-battle!
The game's reps were painfully tight lipped about what to expect in the final product. In its highlight video, it appeared that a story mode will consist of battles from the entire series including Vegeta, the Ginyu Force, Freiza, Cell and Majin Buu. In a surprising turn, Xenoverse will introduce a brand new character. Again, Namco wasn't saying much but the design of the character, from his Scouter to the Capsule Corps jackets, certainly brings up a lot of questions. Who was he? None would say. The ability to perform Fusions, the combining of two characters into a single super fighter, was brought up by a member of the press. Alas, they couldn't say anything. We did get to see a live demo of a fight between Goku and Frieza, a skirmish that looked to be a fantastic proof of concept. Goku's Ki blasts easily cut through mountains and changing the landscape of the fighting arena. When he got knocked into a body of water, the fight continued underneath the surface with the same level of ferocious intensity.
The Dragonball Xenoverse team is working on making the game's fighting mechanics to be both fun and accessible, something that hardcore and casual fans both can enjoy. It is being developed for both PlayStation and Xbox consoles, although we were told that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One serve as the game's lead platforms. Xenoverse has a long way to go however, I walked out of the meeting room thoroughly excited to play a Dragonball Z game again. I only hope that the finished product can meet its ambitions.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.