Dragon Ball FighterZ packs a punch

Play in Dragon Ball FighterZ's online sessions to meet new friends and get tips from other players.
Play in Dragon Ball FighterZ's online sessions to meet new friends and get tips from other players.

If one was a kid in the 1980s, one would probably know about Dragon Ball Z (DBZ), a popular anime series known for its characters with spiky hair and which has inspired a number of video games over the years.

Developer Arc System Works - veteran of 2D fighter games such as the Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and the Persona 4 Arena series - has used its expertise well in making this latest DBZ-based game, called Dragon Ball FighterZ. Also a 2D fighter, it appears to pack enough appeal to make DBZ fans go "Kamehameha" over it.

For starters, playing through the Story Mode feels like watching an interactive high-quality anime.

Presented over three chapters, the game focuses on the perspective of the Super Warriors, Super Villains and Androids.

The original artist behind DBZ, 62-year-old Akira Toriyama, supervised the design of a new female character called Android 21, which plays a pivotal role here. This character is part of a 21-strong roster that boasts many DBZ favourites, such as Goku, Vegeta, Yamcha, Buu, Beerus, Krillin and Gohan.

Players can test out their dream teams. Teams of three square off against one another and characters can be swopped in the heat of the action.

A basic four-button combat system makes the game simple to learn for beginners, who can also conjure interesting combos and moves with the other face buttons of the controller. The game menu is presented as an environment called the Hubworld, in which the player navigates around as an avatar known as a lobby character.

  • 9/10 RATING

    PRICE: From $79.90 (PS4, version tested; Xbox One; PC)

    GENRE: Action fighter

You can unlock more items with Zeni, an in-game currency that is earned through playing the game and which cannot be bought with real money. Farming for Zeni does not feel like a chore as long as one enjoys replaying the various game modes.

The only time to spend real cash is when one decides to buy the FighterZ pass, a downloadable content pack to unlock eight additional characters. There is no official word on when this content will be available, but there is already much speculation by fans on what the eight characters will be.

If you like meeting new friends and obtaining tips from other players, one can play in the game's online sessions.

Here, you will find Party Match, in which six players can play together, with each controlling one character. There is also Circle Match, an eight-player, free-for-all bout; and World Match, which allows you to play in casual or ranked matches. When online, you can communicate with other players using emojis called Z-Stamps.

If you need to take a break from the online sessions, the Practice Area is always open for training at one's pace. Or you can play in the Arcade mode, recommended for players who wish to hone their skills against stronger adversaries.

If you have friends coming over, the Tournament Mode is another fun offline alternative. With plenty of options for playing together, I would not be surprised if the community embraces this mode to the extent that it appears as an eSports event one day.

PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X owners will be able to enjoy the game at 60 frames per second and at higher than 1080p quality.

It is not easy to notice the quality difference when comparing cel-shaded graphics, but reports have indicated better shadow effects and more consistent visuals, especially when the action becomes chaotic on screen.

• Verdict: A great game that is accessible to beginners and challenging enough for seasoned gamers. As DBZ fans would say: "The fun factor is over nine thousand."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2018, with the headline 'Dragon Ball FighterZ packs a punch'. Print Edition | Subscribe