Tuesday, 20 February 2018 05:32

DRAGON BALL FighterZ Review

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I bet many of you, like me, foam at the mouth at the idea of experiencing the bombastic action of Dragon Ball Z.

If you are reading this review of DRAGON BALL FighterZ (for PC), you may be familiar with the ageless eponymous Japanese action anime. And, chances are your introduction to the series is through one of two platforms: the curated and translated Cartoon Network presentation, or — a bit earlier — via the “underground” import anime (and video game) scene, complete with copious subtitles to read. If you’re not familiar with the series, perhaps you’ll find the over-the-top action captivating. If you’ve only been exposed to North American cartoon characters, you should find the cast of Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) refreshing, different… and maybe a bit weird. But a good weird?

(Minimal spoiler ahead:) FighterZ adds to the DBZ canon with a fairly simplistic plot device of clone warriors threatening the world and a new lady android. I bet many of you, like me, foam at the mouth at the idea of experiencing the bombastic action of DBZ. FighterZ aims to recreate the look and feel of the series, outdoing its video game predecessors.

FighterZ is gorgeous.

The developer, Arc System Works, faithfully recreates the look of the 2D anime onto 3D cell-shaded models. It sounds simple, but the attention to lighting, shadows, and proportions really adds to the experience. It’s like the anime is being piped directly into your eyeballs. Everything melds together (unlike Marvel vs Capcom 2 — and before someone cuts my head off for my saying anything negative about it, I love the game — but I digress), from the background to the characters, it all looks and moves in harmony. Backgrounds are no small detail either; they’re spot-on, being both colorful and interactive. The background can be damaged from a battle, such as when you or your opponent is catapulted towards the proverbial hillside and the impact destroys the lot. Yet another detail that successfully presents something just as it was in the anime.

Thankfully, like its graphics, FighterZ’s sound also delivers. From small sound effects, such as crushing blows, to the characters voices (either in English or the original Japanese), it’s all DBZ authentic, and it’s glorious! Thankfully, FighterZ gives you the freedom to choose between the original Japanese version or the localized English version, so fans of both should rejoice.

As a fighting game, is FighterZ a faithful extension of the anime?

Does it convince you that your battle is within the DBZ universe? In a word: Yes. The graphics and sound are definitely followed up by tight, simplified gameplay (more on this later). The movement of each character feels right, from a fairly large character, like Napa, to someone a bit smaller, like Vegeta. Playing at 4k/60FPS, with custom quality settings, FighterZ is smooth and still conveys the feeling of sudden movements, combos, and teleportation as perfectly as you could want.

FighterZ has a three main attack buttons, so if you’re comfortable executing quarter and half-circle moves from Capcom’s releases (like Marvel vs. Capcom 2), you will pull off special moves without difficulty in this title as well. FighterZ adds a twist to combat, however, with auto combos. Each character has an auto-combo dash attack, but you can push players that decide to spam the move with a well-timed counter. Timing is where FighterZ’s gameplay depth comes from. As your skill evolves, the gameplay rises in difficulty through the importance timing. Pace naturally increases with skill level. In short, FighterZ is easy to learn but hard to master — a recipe for great fun.

Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend too much time doing a technical analysis of FighterZ on my rig, which is running a 4.2GHz Intel 6700k and 16GB DDR4-3000. As for graphics cards (yes, plural), although my rig has twin FuryXs, FighterZ sadly doesn’t seem to support CrossFire. The lone FuryX delivered smooth gameplay while running 4k/60FPS with mixed settings, and I suspect the settings could be maxed-out without trouble. But that analysis will have to wait for another time.


The Verdict: Excellent

Is FighterZ another Star Wars Battlefront II? Thankfully, no. You get twenty-eight characters, complete with several costumes, out of the box. It’s not all the characters in the DBZ universe, but I wouldn’t call it sparse. I’m not fan of loot boxes, but FighterZ’s system is tolerable, being based on in-game currency, with generous payouts. With online play, I generally had a good experience and little or no lag. FighterZ looks great, sounds better, having enough depth and complexity to warrant its asking price.

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Brian Manabat

Brian Manabat, a fighting game and PC tech enthusiast, races top-end automotives, shoots center mass like Robin Hood, and untangles the twisted webs of the internet as a day job. His hobbies include day trading, taking beautiful pictures of beautiful things, and always saying the wrong thing — but still winning your heart.