Review | Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
"Kakamehameha your way in, Masenko your way out. Newest installment is a great add for fans, but for sure it can be something for everyone else to love as well."
Who here doesn’t like Dragon Ball? When I think about it, Dragon Ball Z is one of the best things you can serve to your child, while at the same time enjoying it yourself. Dragon Ball is so much more than just drawn lines and seamless screaming, it’s a perfect book of good behavior, righteous thinking and well, screaming for 20 minutes without stopping. You just can’t remain the same. Maybe the 3 of you who dislike it.
Once upon a time, there was a kid named Kakarot
His name was Goku. Son Goku? Songoku? Which one? I was always mixing those up. On top of it all, there comes the villain and shouts out for Kakarot. The name of this game best explains what it’s about – the story about Dragon Ball Z sagas, with the last one being Majin Buu saga. Personally, I love this one the most, but this review will not be fanboy oriented; when you love something, you always look where they screwed things up.
Flying Nibmus and Picolo. Time for the intervention and possible planet destruction
For all those which are not familiar with the series – DBZ is a story about couple of Saiyans; a race from another planet. Saiyans are big warriors. They have honor and they really like to fight. By chance and because of the great tragedy, couple of them survived and those were sent to the earth. Here they live a normal life. They eat a lot. Really a lot. Training is something they tend to do for 25h a day. What distinguish them is the fact that they possess supernatural powers. It’s a small thing to say how tough they are.
They are focused and trained so much that they can culminate their energy and fly. Not even just that, but when they almost get killed, they become even stronger. Every journey towards the brink of death is just another level up. The more you fight them, the more they will come back and show you what a Saiyan is.
Even the real heroes get hungry. Of course, they crave for meat.
This is the story about the biggest Saiyan hero. Kakarot is loved by the young and the old. Even animals love him. The guy is something else. Earth is threaten by variety of intergalactic villains and Goku is the only one who can stood up to them. This is the journey where Goku is a warrior, dad, coach, dead and the biggest prize who you will virtually control.
Beat me up gently
I must admit, I’ve never played Xenoverse. All I tried were 2 titles from Nintedo DS and something else but I can’t even remember. Those were turn based RPG’s. When I saw that they were making a new semi-open world game, I was a bit disappointed. I thought it wasn't going to be for me. After playing this, I can say that missing out on previous games was a mistake – especially and mostly for those who consider themselves as fans of the series.
Thank god that the focus of the game is not on exploring. Quite boring landscapes.
The game is developed by CyberConnect2 (known for Naruto games) and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Bandai has some really good names behind, but they often like to follow the wrong approach from time to time.
A major part of the game is for sure its story. Given that, you know you just can’t miss the point. The rest is beat ‘em up and you'll lose precious time on boring side content and everything else that doesn’t have much sense. The fighting is also good, with one small detail – having millions of HP will make you lose focus every time you try to guess how much you have left. Combine that with awesome killer moves while using a roaster of cool characters and you have yourself one decent game.
Super Saiyo and the less fortunate across the street.
Awesome is the process of development. You start as a slow fighter. As time passes by, you become faster, stronger and more epic. By the end of the game, you will just hear the kicks, it will be fairly hard to keep up with the speed. That is done great, because fights do tend to become very repetitive. You will soon learn the best patterns and just re-use them. Even with all that, given that you have couple of different characters – you will for sure enjoy how each of them develops and level up for your pleasure only. Once upon a time you were just watching all of that in front of your TV, now it’s the same but you control the awesomeness. It just feels great, no other way to put it.
The real focus is on those points above, which makes the RPG elements of the game like a secondary thing. You can learn new moves and indulge in some training to discover even more. Good thing that the focus runs away from this semi-open world. You don’t want to be bored, do you? No worries, you will fly from one end to another before you even shout out all names from Goku.
When I imagine fights that have more variety and tactics, maybe even higher difficulty that would mean the game just earned level up on my grading system. And yours for sure. Kamehameha is cool as shit.
A beautiful world which isn’t all that nice.
As I said, the weakest link of this game is its world. Imagine PS2 graphics and constant frame drops when flying fast. Although the focus is not on this, having awesome, detailed and beautiful world would be a dream come true. Bandai is hiring for the worst in game graphics. It’s funny, the main game path is a totally opposite thing. You will not believe how good some scenes are. This is what we want in the rest of the game as well.
When you do pass through that point, you will notice that movement is even worse. It will take some time to adjust to fast running, jumping, even flying. I liked the feeling, but there was a lot of times when walls were my destination and the camera was not my best friend. It’s a little unnatural, but with proper learning curve you are good to go.
The world is full of items from ingredients to ones you can sell or use to craft. To cook as well. You can catch animals for meat, you can fish while attaching a tail in your ass…All of those fill like they are here just to fill the void. They lose its purpose very soon.
Apart from listening to random collecting sounds when picking those items up, prepare for some random battles. Same enemies in different colors. Over and over again. In this respect, variety is poor, at best. I really dislike when they just shove content like this just so you feel like something is there. Even doing those makes no sense as leveling up like this takes too much time and just playing side quest and story has got you covered.
Love the gibberish language. Its use is to call out the dragon and have a laugh.
Epic moments and the prince
The main story is brilliant. Did I said that already? Oh the artwork, man, feels and looks so nice. Few levels above the series. They are quite old now, so it’s an honor to see them in high quality.
If you watched the TV show, you know that certain events last for 20ish episodes. Good thing is that's not the case here. Still, while trying to find the best balance, they’ve lost it in a way. Those Super Saiyan moments were epic as hell. Here, one moment you are waiting for them and all the screaming and shouting, the next you are already the banana guy. They somehow managed to lose the epicness that was always in the series. Not everything is like this, thank god. Just some scenes really needed stronger focus and longer duration. All in all, the story is strong and I had no reason whatsoever to stop and I never got bored in any way.
Maybe the strongest moments are ones between Vegeta and Goku. Eternal rivals. Vegeta will always have some nasty thing to say and he will always look for a way to beat Kakarot. The funny part is that Goku looks at this as something secondary and he always comes out of those situations as the winner. That makes Vegeta pissed as shit. Having him around is the best thing they ever did. The whole process of him being a shithead to a dad and proud warrior who will give life for those he loves is a journey everyone should cherish.
As you progress through the story, you will take control over many friends. Even Goku’s sons and many more. Krilin, Gohan, Goten, Trunks, Picolo, Vegeta, ooooh yes, they are all part of the party. For me, best fighters were Gohan and Vegeta. They are fast as shit and the only thing that was better was Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 form and fusions. Loved the way you can transform in battles and kick everyone’s asses.
You can choose between Japanese and English voices. They are the ones you can hear in movies/tv shows, so don’t worry, both are great. Soundtrack is awesome. Just awesome. If only they gave me more metal in fights, uh, that would be epic headbanging stuff.
Goku is always 3 steps in front of Vegeta. Vegeta not happy.
Dragon Balls on a board full of emblems
You know that if you die in this world and you are pure hearted, you don’t actually die? You will be forwarded to King Kai, which will embrace you if you make him laugh. Simple joke is sufficient. The best training will come out from there, probably that’s why Goku likes to be dead.
Nemekians are capable of calling out the dragon which can grant wishes. What a wicked world! Goku dies, trains in the other realm, they call out for Dragon Balls, revive him… Perfect harmony. 7 balls can also grant you wealth in this game, it can give you rare item and the possibility to fight previous villains again. Dying is part of the tactics. Just don’t aim to die when you are dead, that’s a no-go.
I love those Japanese dragons. Better than European ones.
Additional mechanics consist of community board and soul emblems. By helping earth inhabitants and solving side quests, you will get character embles. The community board is, well, a board divided into groups by some skillset which when placing emblems raises certain perks. Like, Z board will raise melee and special damage. You can also give gifts to characters, which will raise their level of soul emblem, giving more points to more easily level up the board. Combine certain characters for even more bonuses. Like, Goku and Gohan is one bonus. Fun little thing which you can leave and beat the game without even placing one single emblem there. Too bad.
A place where fish are bigger than dinosaurs
Side content is not bad. It’s also not good. You can fish, hunt dinosaurs, collect orbs. Don’t even bother, orbs are used to level up your skill charts and raise damage of some attacks. You can easily farm them when you beat the game by beating random enemies.
Some skills you will unlock by doing the story, some require you to pass the training stages. Those can be tough, it’s only controlling character versus 3’s of some boss. Do them, unlocking new skills will be a big benefit in upcoming battles.
So, you don’t actually have the tail. Just sayin’
So, side missions are kinda disappointing. They are fun in a way that you can learn about some side characters, learn more about some from the story, but in the end they are the usual fetch quests or beat a badass ones. They are not in any way required, but I did them all anyway.
One cool thing is to fight against random villains on the map. Not actually random, those are tough and they are stronger versions of some bosses that will really test you. If you beat them all, you are in for a real challenge. Combine this with Bulma’s workshop where you can build cars, race them, or train in the same room against even tougher challengers. Villains can be fought when you have all 3 allies in your party, whilst the ladder cannot.
The thing I love is how they eat like crazy. Goku’s wife, ChiChi cooks killed meals. Be sure to collect recipes and try them out. Average Saiyan needs under a minute to eat both the table and the meal.
When I sum everything up, I can say that I really enjoyed the game. It was a wonderful experience and a childhood dream come true. Think no more if you are a fan. If not, you may be repulsed by some things in the game, but even then you will find some good sides as well.
You want to break those defenses and kick them in arms of your allies so they can kick them back right at ya!
Just to mention – I had 4 big crashes. I was lucky that they didn’t happen while I was saving the game. Geez, I hate when they have issues as big as those that can turn of your PS and nearly kill it.
Bandai, keep on keeping on. If you manage to improve the bad stuff, get rid of those crashes, fix frame drops, do a better RPG system and better side content – this can be hot stuff. Fans out there – raise the grade above 80.