Dragon Ball FighterZ is a 2.5D action fighting game in the classic style and is based on the epic and enduring Dragon Ball franchise. For those unfamiliar with the series, Dragon Ball Z has been rocking and rolling since the 1980s. Goku and his pals has been beating on each other in ever more over the top and meme worthy set pieces ever since. Given this wealth of content, it is remarkable how this FighterZ game captures the intensity of the series and generates it back dynamically in fluid gameplay.
Without giving too much away, Dragon Ball FighterZ sees a new story of Goku and his allies facing off against the various Android characters and the associated story arcs. This campaign is both faithful to the source material and yet has a freshness that encourages you to follow it through to the end. The presentation is exceptional, and its fidelity to the source material is spot on. The game’s art direction is noticeably great, and it is brave in places where it adds a little artistic flourish. Fans of the franchise are certainly in for a treat and they will not need this review to recommend a purchase. For the uninitiated, the game does not do a massive amount to recap what are decades of backstory. This is maybe unsurprising. FighterZ is a team based melee fighter that is very much shares in the same lineage as the genre creating Marvel versus Capcom series of games. Before each fight, teams of characters must be selected as a group and each member in turn is vital to the success of the whole unit. The selection and its matchups are crucial to victory and it also means that the player must be familiar with a range of characters and play styles. Selecting good characters does not require deep knowledge of the series but more a working knowledge of the roster and their relative merits.
The game utilises the franchise’s depth of lore by adding in special cutscenes for battles between rivals both during and at the end of fights. As the fight continues, players can knock out each member of the opposition. Each fighter has a detailed set of unique moves and a focus on strings of attacks or combos. These moves also focus the strategy on deciding team composition and when to use each character. While on the side lines, the currently active fighter can call inactive teammates to jump into the battle and help with a special and potentially match changing move. These can be vital and add much needed variety to a match. As with all modern fighting games there are groups of moves that can be accessed across all fighters. Realistically this takes the form of tie breaking moves that can be used to dodge attacks, skip behind advancing opponents, or resist projectile attacks. A mechanic of collecting Dragon Balls in a match can lead to unlocking bonuses, revives, or special events.
Dragon Ball FighterZ does include the modern fighting game’s absolute requirement in that it has a robust system of online matchmaking and the online play is the same fast paced battling as offline. Surprisingly I did experience a few problems connecting to a match, but once in a game it was smooth and responsive. If responsiveness is vital in online fighting games, it seems that Dragon Ball FighterZ can deliver and would seem that the careful approach of having beta tests was a wise one. Both offline and online has a ranking system to monitor and track your progress. The buzz among competitive fighting game fans is that FighterZ has the stability and complexity to be a potential big hitter on the competitive scene.
For fans of the manga/anime Dragon Ball, this is a must purchase. For fans of 2.5D tag team style fighters this is one to check out as it is one of the better in its class. For anyone looking for a new fighting game, this may well be what you are looking for.