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Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Dimps
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 6 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I confess myself jaded by modern anime. Once upon a time, I adored it. My high school weekdays always finished out with lengthy marathons of Cartoon Network’s Toonami. I ate positively all of it up, but the one that held me in rapt attention the most often was Dragon Ball Z. It was the power fantasy to end all power fantasies; the villains devoured the scenery with porcine aplomb, and the heroes, righteously indignant, would snuff them out with extreme, planet-shattering prejudice. As the years (decades, really, but let’s not get depressing) rolled by, my tastes diversified, and I started expecting more from my storytelling. And eventually, I began to struggle with DBZ’s appeal. "Wait," I would think, "we’ve been through this before. Evil alien space Nazi seeks universal domination, temporarily kills a handful of people, gets pwned by friendly aliens." And while the show’s sense of spectacle was unmatched for a time, it became tiresome to put up with its tendency to pad out its incredible action with pointless filler. While I certainly can’t return to the show, I can keep up hope for video games. There’s no shortage; I’ve reviewed more than my share over the last eight years. And sadly, most of them have failed to live up to the cosmic potential of Akira Toriyama’s beloved series. Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 is a step forward from the original in a number of meaningful ways, but it remains plagued by troubled fundamentals.

Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 is currently the best-looking Dragon Ball game ever made, by a very long shot. The world inhabited by Goku, Piccolo, and friends has never looked better; it’s a perfect translation from two dimensions to three. However, its role-playing trappings (particularly its MMO trappings) render the otherwise lovely hub world of Conton City rather sterile and lifeless. While the sheer size of the place is impressive and it's generally a pleasure to look at, there's an awful lot of empty real estate. The interface is a solid step up from the original's, so that's a plus. None of this would matter had the visuals not delivered where it counts -- combat. For the most part, the combat looks spectacular. I still have a problem with the finicky lock-on mechanic, and vertical movement looks incredibly janky. But in terms of speed, effects, and fluidity, XenoVerse 2 is pure eye-candy.

Blessedly, Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 doesn't inflict another cringe-inducing J-Rock anthem on our collective consciousness, though that alone isn't quite enough to take the series off my sh*t-list in terms of music. What's here is largely inoffensive, but still fails to capture that certain Dragon Ball something that the show had in spades. Sound effects are forgettable outside of combat, but unmistakably a product of the series when you're taking to the skies and beating dudes up. Ki blasts, high-pitched thuds, and explosions abound, and gloriously so.


While the entire premise of Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 smacks of bottom-feeding fanservice, it's a functional-enough excuse to construct a persistent world in the Dragon Ball universe. The battle is over, but the war continues. Or something along those lines. In the most liberal interpretation of the butterfly effect I can imagine, nefarious forces continue to threaten history. Certain events in the Dragon Ball timeline are being altered, corrupting the timeline. It's your job to assume the mantle of Time Patroller, just like ::insert your character from the original Dragon Ball XenoVerse:: did in the past. The game's willingness to poke fun at itself (Trunks has done more to change history than arguably anybody in the entire series) is certainly to its benefit; this is wacky stuff, and it should be treated as such.

Again, the storytelling assumes extensive knowledge of the multiple sagas that constitute Dragon Ball as a whole. Saiyans, Frieza, Androids/Cell, Majin Buu. All of these sagas (and more) feature their share of famous moments, several of which make their way into XenoVerse 2. The potential for some really goofy alternate realities is there, but rarely (if ever) capitalized upon. While I get that preserving history exactly as it happened is the ethical thing to do and blah blah blah, they could have been more creative than the likes of "Goku has to sacrifice his life to kill Raditz." But fans will appreciate it.

As was the case in XenoVerse, you take your customizable character into a hub world -- in this case, the beachfront metropolis of Conton City -- where several NPCs just kind of stand around waiting for you to pay them some attention. Most of them don't really have anything interesting to say, but others give quests (online and off), while others have something to sell. It's a persistent experience that pays off what you put into it. Completing quests and growing your character is the meat of the experience, and it's where most players will spend the grand majority of their time.


Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 features a comprehensive series of tutorials, and the good news is this: it’s certainly thorough. Everything you could possibly want to know about this game’s functions (and then some) are easily accessible; you can either seek out special instructors or, humorously enough, force an NPC to seek them out for you. The bad news, however, is that the tutorials themselves take every possible opportunity to waste your time. Each one begins with an unskippable line reading and subsequent demonstration from your teacher; it might not sound bothersome, but considering the breadth of the "curriculum," it most certainly is. Have a little faith in the player next time, please, devs?

Combat is often a very simple affair, with the challenge factor usually lying in direct proportion with how flashy and creative you want to be. Given the bombast and outlandish nature of the conflicts depicted in the show, most players will want to go all out. It may take some time to get used to chaining your attacks (physical and ki-related) together, but once you’ve customized everything to your liking and gotten the basics down, you’ll learn fast.

You’ll learn almost everything by doing, but Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 gets off on the wrong foot by commencing a massive information dump regarding multiple disparate systems. It’s akin to having an encyclopedic study guide dropped in front of you and then promptly taken back the second you look away. Given that this game features so many interlocking parts and mechanics, it would be much more manageable if that information was provided solely on an as-needed basis.

Game Mechanics:

As mentioned in the previous section, most of the challenge inherent to Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 comes from the player's attempt to emulate the action as it appears on the show. In reality, however, you rarely have to mix things up. Most fights are simply battles of attrition that boil down to button-mashing between a series of light and heavy attacks, with a Ki blast or a throw added in for good measure. Most enemies are content to stand/hover and take it, though some will force you to think more defensively in terms of positioning, blocking, or executing the Z-Vanish, that classic move that has one combatant disappear and reappear behind his/her opponent.

Every now and then, you'll be forced into a very specific fighting style. And it's here where XenoVerse 2 is at its worst. Without spoiling anything, it rears its ugly head during the first de facto boss encounter and offers a grim taste of future encounters. Thankfully, those are generally the exception to the rule. That being said, however, you're not always guaranteed an exciting fight. Provided you go out on patrol and level your character up properly, you'll rarely have to execute complex combos or defensive maneuvers. It's entirely possible that this is in service of making the game feel like the show, but it's too great a cost for what could have otherwise been an outstanding fighter.

Dragon Ball XenoVerse 2 is a marked improvement over its predecessor, but it still stops shy of greatness. Its production values are easily the best the series has ever seen, and the ambition on hand is impossible to deny. None of what it does is best in class; there are far better role-playing games and far better fighting games. However, it's more than the sum of its parts and a must-play for fans of the series.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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