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Hands-On With “Dragon Ball: Xenoverse”

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The “Dragon Ball” series of video games, in my opinion, has not been a very awe-inspiring one. Throughout the years, fans of the series were time and time again delivered new “Dragon Ball” games that, while not too terrible, were also never the best around. The last “Dragon Ball” video game I played was something like six years ago and what I was left with were nothing but feelings of disappointment.

Being such a huge fan of both the Anime and manga series of the same name, not being able to enjoy what I believed would be fantastic video game experiences has, over the years, slowly diminished my love for “Dragon Ball” fighting games…that is, until Bandai Namco Games invitied us to their Sydney HQ to try out the demo build of their upcoming “Dragon Ball” title “Xenoverse”. The hours of I spent playing through the game changed my views on not only the future of “Dragon Ball” gaming but on the entire history of the series which, as you should know, is one hell of an amazing feat!

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The premise alone was enough to tantalise me: You are a “Time Patrolman” who’s job is to travel back through the “Dragon Ball” history to rewrite it. While you may think this is just the developers way of getting around having to create any real story of their own, you’d be wrong. This historical shift of events is no apparition, it is perfectly orchestrated by a foe powerful enough to rip the fabric of time and driven enough to want to kill Goku and the other Z-Fighters at any given chance, but when time is literally at your command…any given chance quickly turns into every single chance.

As Anime games usually do, “Xenoverse” goes over the entire history of the series. The difference is that you are your own character this time. You do not play as one of the Z-Fighters doing all the same things the Z-Fighters have always done to win. You change history the way you want to, with your fighting style and all on your own terms. Hell, you can even go up against the good guys if that’s really what you want to do!

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Actually playing through the story helped me to realise that the idea of Time Travel has not been wasted on this game. It seems as though whoever has written the scenarios behind the scenes really know what they’re doing. It’s little things like your character stopping Krillin from killing Vegeta when he’s beaten and trying to escape. Why? Because you live in a place that exists outside of time’s reach.

You know what the future holds for the Z-Fighters and Vegeta, and you know that killing him would only then open up another timeline different to the one you’re fighting to create. Even in saying that, and much like what I said above, the game does like to allow the player to have a little fun and fight against the good guys once in a while, if they so choose.

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The gameplay itself is quite exciting and very much reminiscent of older “Dragon Ball” video game titles. The perfect way to describe the mechanics of “Xenoverse” is quite simple: It’s as if Dimps really studied up on all the other “Dragon Ball” video games, realised what was done wrong in the past and has avoided that for “Xenoverse”. What you’re given with the upcoming title is a “Dragon Ball” game at it’s most purest! Fighting mixed with adventure and a touch of RPG has manifested itself as what I’m calling possibly a perfect “Dragon Ball” video game.

It’s as if this is the game I was waiting for all my childhood and it has nothing to do with adding in something new, instead it has everything to do with taking out what was bad in the past and I think that’s something amazing. The action is as fast-paced as you’d imagine it would be and what pulls the entire game together is the smooth and impactful graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 4 of which we played the demo on.

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Despite some minor bugs that we were told were only going to be present on the demo, the game looked amazing! Just the way you’d want a “Dragon Ball” game to look on the latest and greatest console. Everything was overly cinematic (in a good way) and dynamic camera shifts were woven in seamlessly. All the characters looked fantastic, including the one that you’re given the chance to create at the very beginning of the game.

With five races to choose from and a nice assortment of hairstyles and facial structures to make your “Time Patroller” unique, it was hard to be upset with what we were delivered. Unlike a great deal of other games that play host to character customisation, the one you created seemed to blend in almost perfectly with the others on screen which is something that doesn’t often happen. For the most part, the character I created looked as though she could have been very much present in the actual series and that is really what you want from a game that boasts character customisation. Visually, I cannot complain about “Xenoverse”, and anyone that will just has to high a sense of judgement.

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Unfortunately due to the high density of people in the room at the time of playthrough, we weren’t given that great of a chance to actually listen to the game. During quite times we managed to pick up on some of those classic “Dragon Ball” sounds and some of the voice acting of the English cast which, while good, weren’t as good as we remember from the series.

Granted, that may be the effect of nostalgia kicking in and forcing us into remembering what we THINK it was like back in our childhood but not what it was REALLY like, but it’s still worth mentioning seeing as it was not only me that thought this way but also Luke Halliday my fellow writer who was also present at the preview. Once again, it’s hard for me to comment on what how the game sounds as a whole because for me to do so would just be one big guess at this point in time but we could hear feint sounds of the typical electric guitar riffs made popular by “Dragon Ball” so I’m confident the game will have a rocking soundtrack.

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All in all I think “Dragon Ball: Xenoverse” is going to be one hell of a video game. This is the title that “Dragon Ball” fans have been waiting for since the release of the very first game. That’s not to say what came before ‘Xenoverse” was terrible but none can hold a candle to this juggernaut of a title. It has everything you want from a “Dragon Ball” game including what I imagine to be a whole bunch of other stuff we didn’t see in the demo build.

Plus, you get to create your very own character and make a difference in the fictional history of “Dragon Ball”. That’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid and now, thanks to “Xenoverse”, I’ll actually be able to do that. What else is there to say? Everyone else in the room that played “Xenoverse” only had good things to say, all of their points very much similar to mine. “Xenoverse” is no fluke. “Xenoverse” may have just resurrected the “Dragon Ball” video game series name.

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