- Game: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: CyberConnect2
A Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review code was provided by the publisher.
The sense of nostalgia felt throughout all forms of media can take a mediocre experience and turn it into a far more engaging one. But when that representation of one’s favorite old TV show, comic book, or manga/anime is much better than expected in playable form, the adoration for that beloved franchise gets even stronger. CyberConnect2 lifts the entire story arc from Dragon Ball Z and retells its familiar events within the confines of an action RPG. While a bit rough in parts and lacking some essential character selection options, this latest Dragon Ball Z experience offers an enthralling journey that diehard fans will play through extensively.
So let’s get this out of the way first – Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s plot has been replicated in video game form a million times, which may be too much of an issue for some. It would have been far more preferable if this massive action RPG gave fans the chance to finally play through Dragon Ball Super’s exciting arcs in full instead. But everything that’s included within Kakarot makes playing through the climactic battles involving the Z Warriors worth doing all over again. The game’s crisp-looking visuals are incredibly loyal to its source material and the cinematic cutscenes showcase the anime’s best scenes in the most graphically impressive way possible. Even the sound effects from the show, like the sound of Ki charging and melee exchanges being exchanged at a rapid pace, are present here alongside the anime’s most recognizable tunes. Dragon Ball Z fans will be more than pleased with everything they see and hear across the course of the fun yet all too familiar main story threads.
Soaring through Kakarot’s open-world is a lot more fun than you’d initially expect. Collecting Z Orbs, fishing, hunting wild animals and dinosaurs, discovering recognizable characters, etc. are just a few of the many activities you can busy yourself with. The fact that the anime’s filler content comes included as side missions and even a fun minigame is a welcome attention to detail that’s surprising to see. Simply taking the time away from superpowered battles just to collect ingredients for meals is something you can busy yourself with for hours on end, which speaks to the game’s strong open-world exploration elements and addictive collecting mechanics. Kakarot gives players a ton of stuff to do that’s all worth giving hours of attention to. However, far too many of the side missions follow a tired play structure – chat with someone, go out hunting for items or get into a fight (or even do both), talk some more, done. The constant bouts of hilarity they often produce are a nice touch, however.
Every Dragon Ball Z game focuses on the anime’s outlandish combat and golden transformations we’ve all come to appreciate. The many battles that you’ll get embroiled in are equal parts good and bad. So the good first – dishing out flashy melee attacks, blasting foes with powerful Ki beam specials, and pulling off team-based maneuvers is a blast. Eliminating random enemies that follow you relentlessly is easy enough, but the epic boss fights actually provide a worthy challenge. Those battles provide the most bang for your buck and live up to the grand memories fans retain from watching the show back in the day. The game’s deep progression systems do an awesome job of giving each of the playable characters tons of ways to improve their stats, unlock new moves and strengthen their abilities over time. Kakarot’s RPG systems are far deeper than one might initially expect.
Now the bad – during the game’s wilder bouts that feature a total of four or five more characters onscreen, annoying bouts of slowdown tend to kick in. And at random intervals, the melee audio completely craps out and takes away the impact of landing powerful blows on your foes. And while there’s a nice variety of playable characters to use and a commendable selection of movesets to master, not being able to play with certain characters is definitely a letdown.
Other popular Z Warriors such as Krillin, Yamcha, and Tien are only relegated to side characters that accompany you in battle. It would have been pretty cool to switch between party members during battle sequences and utilize their signature moves instead of only being able to give them commands and rely on them as NPC comrades. Sadly, that first option is completely non-existent. Two other legit complaints that can be lobbied against Kakarot are the unruly camera that becomes an issue during intense combat and the lip-synching that’s visibly off during voiced cutscenes. A patch that can fix those two errors is a necessity at this point.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Takeaways
CyberConnect2 knows a thing or two about making quality anime-based games. Their previous work has resulted in them producing a better than expected action RPG for Dragon Ball Z fans that feels like a fully realized version of Dragon Ball Z: Sagas. The deep progression systems, faithful retelling of the anime’s iconic story arcs, fun combat, and amusing open-world activities all combine to create an engrossing Dragon Ball adventure. But the rougher parts of the experience, like the problematic camera that gets in the way during fights, the awkward lip-synching, and non-playable use of some characters, keeps Kakrot from reaching a much higher state of power. Kakarot is still one of the best Dragon Ball Z games ever made, but here’s hoping that an eventual Dragon Ball Super game in the same action RPG vein is far more refined.
Our Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review Score: 8 out of 10
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