Dragon Ball: Xenoverse

It's been too many years since I've played a Dragon Ball game that I genuinely enjoyed. My favorite game in the series is Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and since then I've struggled to find another to match. With Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, some of my prayers have finally been answered.

Anyone who plays Dragon Ball games likely knows the story like the back of their hand because it is rehashed for every game. Sometimes I don't even bother listening to whats going on. I've seen Goku defeat Frieza, Gohan decimate Cell, and Kid Buu's body evaporate from the Spirit Bomb more times than I can count. Dragon Ball games never dared to change the story and just recreates scenes from the anime. Xenoverse goes against the grain in that regard, opting for its own version of events. Developer Dimps has introduced a brand new story that unfolds in some pretty interesting ways.

The game's biggest departure is the inclusion of a character creator. Well known races are represented, like the Saiyans, Nameks, Earthlings, and even Majin Buu's and Frieza's. You are then placed in the role of a time traveler who tries to stop an evil villain from changing the course of history. Xenoverse's story kept me interested from beginning to end with its many "what if" stories. As impressive as a brand new story was, I was more impressed that Dimps actually created some of the cutscenes anime-style. I felt as if I was truly watching a brand new episode of Dragon Ball Z.

The most standout feature present in Xenoverse are the RPG elements. After a brief tutorial with Future Trunks you are sent to the hub world world of Toki Toki City. The city is populated with other real world characters and serves as a place to shop or take on Destiny-like side quests. Everything you do earns experience points to be distributed amongst the particular skills and abilities needed to create a personal fighter type. Stamina, health, Ki, and super attacks are all viable options to choose from. No matter how you spec a fighter, the real power comes from the type of moves you choose. Xenoverse offers diverse move sets that can make each individual character stand out.

Character development is my favorite portion of the game by far. Despite being a silent protagonist, I really grew attached to him and worked hard to make him better in every way by farming quests for new skills or different sets of armor. I started out as the Saiyan race and after reaching the level cap of 80, I decided to create a Freiza and Majin Buu character. Saiyans can transform into Super Saiyan 1 and 2 and both Super Vegeta forms, giving them immense power for a short period of time. When I played as Frieza and Majin Buu's characters, I was disappointed that no other race can transform. Each race does have their own individual perks, but the lack of transformations was a huge letdown that led to some balance issues.

The combat system isn't as deep as I would have hope but I still found it to be serviceable. Some elements could be improved on however, such as blocking. Blocking requires real-life Super Saiyan reflexes in order to pull off. Most of the time I just gave up on it completely and resorted to other tactics such as instant transmission or dodging. Outside of that however, the combat was pretty entertaining to me. Stringing off a set of combos that sends your opponent flying back into a crater and giving him a parting gift in the form of a Galick Gun never gets old. You have light and heavy attacks as well as Super and Ultimate attacks. The overall scheme of the combat isn't to complex so it's fairly easy to pick up and play but difficult to master. Other things such a Z-Souls can be equipped. Z- Souls gives you buffs in battle such as increased stamina or health regeneration.

If you are familiar with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, you'll recognize the similarities in combat systems between it and Xenoverse. Instead of your traditional, one on one battles, the majority of the fights are three versus three. I wasn't much of a fan of this style overall but found it to be much more enjoyable against real people instead of the horrible AI teammates. The AI is incredibly frustrating. For example, AI teammates rarely (if ever) use any super attacks and I've never seen one use an Ultimate Attack even though they have full Ki bars. They serve as good distractions for opponents who are light years ahead of them in AI programming. Most battles result in your teammates crushed in a pretty hasty fashion. Quests can fail if your partners die, requiring the player to babysit them.

There are things to do outside of the story, like Parallel Quest. These quests are where I spent most of my time in Xenoverse. Y can fight alongside enemies to kill Goku and company, search for Dragon Balls, and fight Great Apes. There 55 different quests broken up into seven difficulties. Majority of the items you need for your character are found here, so prepared to farm for hours.

Both online play as well as local play are available. You can go online and show off our custom character or choose from a roster of unlocked characters. Just about every major character from Dragon Ball Z are here along with Dragon Ball GT standouts Omega Shenron, Super 17, and Super Saiyan 4 Goku and Vegeta. Overall the roster is pretty solid withfew omissions (Baby Vegeta, and the Androids). At launch, the hardest battle to overcome was with the game servers, however Dimps successfully patched the issue and I haven't ran into any problems since then.

By no means is Dragon Ball: Xenoverse a perfect game but it gives a spark to a series of games that hadn't had one for years. Creating a brand new story with new villains keeps things interesting and the custom character system folds in the player in a way that lets them directly impact the narrative. Despite a few flaws, Xenoverse proves to be a solid entry and a much needed step in the right direction of a franchise that desperately needed it.

Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09