Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review
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Dragonball Z Kakarot is an action-RPG developed by CyberConnect 2 and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The game retells the entire story from all the important arcs presented in the Dragonball Z anime series. While I’m not a fan of story recaps for anime games, Kakarot is by far the best I have seen for a Dragonball Z game. The game mixes open world gameplay along with all of the major fights that you’ll find from the anime series. I have a feeling that Dragonball Z fans will be pleased with this one.
Normally, story recaps aren’t all that special in anime games, especially when it comes to Dragonball Z, but this game does it really well. The game doesn’t feel like it rushes through the story but instead it picks out the most important parts of the DBZ sagas and retells them. We don’t get any of the filler stuff (jokes, gags, meaningless minor plotlines) and we get plenty of the really good fights that we saw in the anime series. The game is quite long (if you watch the cutscenes) and jam-packed with story – unlike other DBZ games, it doesn’t just summarize and rush through story, it takes it time, but doesn’t get long-winded. If you have already seen the DBZ series, then you’ll find this to be an impressive retelling and even if you haven’t seen the series, you’ll find that this game gives you the most important parts without much filler in between. Overall, the story retelling is top notch. It’s way better than the story recaps in earlier DBZ games. The game also has a great look that resembles the look of the anime series. Cutscenes, in-game cutscenes and playable areas look graphically just about the same so the transition between each is very seamless.
The game has a huge open world to explore before you get to the main story content. New mechanics, gameplay and methods of travel are introduced to the player as the story progresses. You are free to explore the open world most of the time (it’s hard when your character can’t fly). The open world has many story missions, side missions, fishing minigames, training areas, cooking areas and also many Z orbs to collect. You’ll also run into random battles with enemies that frequent the world map while searching around. Z orbs and experience can be used to level up your character. Z orbs are used to upgrade moves along a character grid, while experience is used to level up your character’s attributes. Every playable fighter has moves that can be leveled up and equipped. You can also level up party members that you don’t directly control and you can change their special moves that can be performed during battles.
During the retellings of the story, you’ll engage in many character battles. Battles are fought on a 3D plane (ground, air and water). The game’s lock-on keeps your opponent on the screen so that you can easily attack from close or long range. The game’s controls during battles definitely have a learning curve when it comes to familiarizing yourself with attacking and defending. Thankfully the game has tons of tutorials to help you out with learning the game’s combat. As usual with many Namco Bandai anime games, the tutorials get so detailed and frequent that they get annoying!
Each fighter has their own unique set of special moves that you can equip. Each fighter can only equip four special moves while you are controlling them and when they are a partner character they can only have two special moves equipped. There are also some attribute bonuses that can be equipped to fighters as well. The actual fights that are in the main story can get a bit rough at times. They seem to start out pretty easy until you get to a major fight then the tension is really unleashed. Each enemy has their own unique special moves and super special moves that you’ll have to learn to avoid or deal with. Simply blocking an attack will get you hit (guard break) so you’ll have to learn how to successfully dodge or counter attacks. All characters share certain counterattacks that can be performed while blocking or while getting hit. Sustaining ki that will allow you to perform special moves is a big part of the battles. Every fighter has a ki charge that leads them wide open to attack as they charge their ki energy. The true beauty of some boss fights is how much you have to spam your attacks and go out of your way to avoid enemy attacks in order to win. Very early into the game, the final battle with Raditz is truly amazing with how tense it can get. The game picks up in difficulty as you go through the various arcs and enemy boss attacks get much more intense.
The developers really nailed the overall sound to this game. The sound effects are taken directly from the anime and sound just as crisp and are as well-placed as they are in the show. They even added the sound effect for dashing with a character along with a whole wealth of other familiar sound effects. The overall soundtrack is taken from the series as well. There are many familiar tunes along with the infamous “Cha-La” opening theme. Bandai Namco is notorious for not including English dialogue in many of their anime games but this game has both English and Japanese dialogue. The English dialogue is the main dialogue that I’m more familiar with for DBZ so that is the dialogue that I used while playing. Most voice actors are the same as in the series. As usual, the mouth movement is a bit off from the voices for the English dialogue – just like in the anime.
Sometimes the action gets so intense that the game will suffer from bad slowdown. The slowdown is often rare, but when it happens, the game can go down a VERY low framerate. This has the chance of happening during super huge attack sequences. If you’ve watched DBZ before then you know that the battles are often full of “world-ending” moves so I’m sure you get the idea. I did get random slowdown that was more minor during certain cutscenes as well – perhaps the game couldn’t handle the backgrounds?
In between large story arcs, you’ll be able to engage in many side quests. Sadly, the side quests are your run of the mill fetch quests for the most part. There are a few that will give you some extra fights. The dialogue with most side quests is usually interesting but what you are doing is rather boring – stuff like collecting carrots and other collectibles. Sometimes it’s hard to find where to collect some of the items because of the game’s vague description about where to find them. All side quests are totally extra events that have nothing to do with the main story, so they are all new story elements, but none of them are truly all that exciting.
This game feels just like you’re playing through the anime series at a more rapid pace. Besides Dragonball Fighter Z, it’s the first game I’ve seen to capture the feel of the series so very well and with a good bit of quality. Dragonball Z: Kakarot is a great companion piece to the old DBZ series. Whether you’re new to the series, are watching it right now or have seen it back in the past (like me) then there is something here to enjoy for you. Fans will get the most of the game, but newcomers will get introduced to the series rather well.
+ Story recap of the entire DBZ series
+ Fantastic sound (soundtrack and overall sound effects)
+ Boss fights can get intense
+ Very colorful visuals
- Some slowdown here and there
- Random battles get repetitive quickly
- Side missions aren’t all that exciting
Final Rating: 80% - Dragonball Z Kakarot is yet another retread of the familiar series, but this one nails the feel of the series.