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    Dragon Ball XenoVerse: Flawed but fun

    Dragonball Z a cultural phenomenon is no understatement, and though its star has somewhat dimmed since the manga and anime series came to an end in the late nineties, there can be no denying its impact. Of course this meant a slew of fighting games over the years, all trying to capture the frenzy and breathless spectacle that epitomised the series. While the success of these endeavours varied between the different iterations, undoubtedly one of the most memorable remains the Budokai franchise from Dimps, who haven’t touched DBZ since the excellent Burst Limit in 2008. The studio is back now with a fresh take on an old idea, and Dragonball Xenoverse has plenty to entice returning fans.

    In order to achieve this Dimps have a fair few tricks up their sleeve, and the first is the inclusion of a simple but surprisingly robust RPG system. The game begins by tasking players to create their own Z-Warrior, allowing you to choose everything from your race (Namekian, Saiyan, Earthling, Majin and “Frieza’s Race”) to the colour of your clothing. With over 200 skills and 400 pieces of equipment available the amount of customisation on offer is massive, and Xenoverse succeeds in providing a true sense of character growth as you level up, with past challenges becoming progressively easier the stronger you become.

    Inserting an entirely new character into an established canon will always be a tricky prospect, and for those dreading having to watch Goku hurl yet another spirit bomb at Frieza, Xenoverse once again manages to sidestep the problem of repetition with a plot that involves an unknown force changing the events of history for the worst. Summoned by Trunks in order to assist him as a member of the Time Patrol, the game soon sees you travelling to all the memorable moments of the DBZ story, though the use of alternate timeline means that they feel relatively fresh, and it can be intriguing to see what twist Xenoverse will throw next. It’s definitely a plot meant for fans however, as there is little context given between missions and newcomers will undoubtedly be lost by the constant skips in the narrative.

    The excitement to move on to the next chapter of the plot is unfortunately dampened somewhat by the missions that you will undertake. The combat itself is actually fairly solid, if somewhat unsophisticated, managing to evoke the style of its source material with thunderous light displays and frenetic exchanges of blows, and there is an undeniable sense of power as you send your opponent crashing into the ground. With only two standard attacks, four selectable skills and an ultimate finishing move however don’t expect a great deal of tactical thought, and button mashing will see you through most of your battles. Where the game falls down then is with the structure of the missions, which have a habit of being tedious if not downright aggravating, not helped in the least by a wildly fluctuating difficulty curve.

    Too often Xenoverse will force you into seemingly impossible situations, and you can expect to have to grind a fair amount just to progress through the campaign. These annoyances are alleviated somewhat by the excellent graphics and soundtrack, though Xenoverse’s saving grace lies with its parallel quests. Acting as repeatable sidequests, they tend be far more enjoyable, allowing you to play with two human partners in unusual situations such as helping Vegeta and Nappa invade Earth, and add a great deal of longevity to the game.

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