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Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Game review

Game review 24 January 2020, 21:42

author: Michael Grygorcewicz

Intemperately devours games, movies, comics, books, TV series – everything that has a good story and doesn't run away. Also a fan of wolves, Metal Gears, brawlers, and buying old games he will never have time to play.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Five Days of Fun with Average Game

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a game for fans still overflowing with sentiment to Son Goku. And only for them. Everyone else should keep on looking.

The review is based on the PS4 version. You can check also XONE version.

 
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Kakarot is:

  1. a rundown Dragon Ball Z's entire story – from Raditz's arrival on Earth to the end of the Buu saga;
  2. the ability to play as Son Goku, Son Gohan, Piccolo and several other iconic characters and explore a world taken directly from the cult anime;
  3. more action than RPG;
  4. combat system is quite similar to that of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series, although updated to the realities of Dragon Ball;
  5. the game was created out of love for the universe of Son Goku and company – the more you love Sayan's adventures, the easier it is to forgive his many mistakes, and have more fun.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Five Days of Fun with Average Game - picture #1
If this image resonates strongly with you, then definitely get Kakarot.
PROS:
  1. good combat system;
  2. perfectly used license – the game is saturated with the atmosphere of DB, offers tons of references and easter eggs, has original voice-over, and almost perfectly reproduces some scenes;
  3. flying can even be enjoyable, and the possibility of ramming enemies is genuinely satisfying;
  4. the plot really covers all the iconic events from around Dragon Ball Z;
  5. despite numerous bugs and problems, it feels quite nice.
CONS:
  1. a hopeless beginning that can discourage you for good;
  2. outdated visuals, especially ugly in exploration mode;
  3. flat and generic side quests;
  4. open world is empty;
  5. many bugs and technical blemishes;
  6. ill-considered character development system;

I didn't believe it would work, and I had three reasons. Firstly, Dragon Ball Z is a weak foundation of a typical role-playing game. "Z" almost entirely boiled down to infinitely long battles, which isn't really enough to warrant a game based on exploration. The classic Dragon Ball would be a much better choice here. But the classic adventures of little Goku are not as popular as the stories of Z Warriors, so why would anyone want to start with them, even if it would mean a more succinct experience...

Secondly, if Kakarot really has to be an RPG based on DBZ, then – for the love of Beerus! – don't squeeze everything into a single game! I mean, it's nearly 300 episodes of animι! Pushing that into a 40-hour game complete with all mechanics etc, can have only one outcome: cutting and reducing the plot, so that the original story becomes a dull summary. And thirdly – after the absolute train wreck that last year's Jump Force proved to be, my credit of confidence for Namco Bandai's anime has sharply decreased.

Fortunately, I eventually found I was partially mistaken. Perhaps Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot isn't a perfect game, but it also isn't miserable, as I was afraid it would be. But, make no mistake, it's merely average; based on outdated ideas, in some instances obviously half-baked, it's a game you cannot play without occasional frowns. And if, by chance, you are fans of one of the most popular animι that raised an entire generation of players, you'll be able to have fun. But before that happens, you will face an absolute disaster.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Five Days of Fun with Average Game - picture #2
Looks cool, but doesn't happen often.

Mr. Hitchcock! Where's the earthquake?

The beginning of the game is terrible. Seriously, I can't think of any other game that would offer equally disappointing opening. After launching Kakarot and completing a very short training battle with Piccolo (it's not that bad yet), we end up in a forest in the mountains, as Goku, where we spend time with several-years-old Gohan. And so, it begins. The environment is ugly. Invisible walls are everywhere. Gohan moans constantly, repeating the same sentences over and over again over the tears. That's not what fun looks like.

What about us? Our mission is exactly what you'd expect from a Dragon Ball Z. Collecting apples from trees. Escorting Gohan to the hunting ground – which isn't easy, since the kid is pretty timid, and if you leave him just a few feet behind, he starts crying. He also gets stuck pretty often, since the AI, primarily designed for flying, can't really handle walking. There also is fishing. And eventually – flying the Kinto cloud. But don't worry! In this case, there's also enough invisible walls to prevent any (oh, terror) exploration...

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Five Days of Fun with Average Game - picture #3
That's the challenge I expect from Dragon Ball!

The first two hours of Kakarot are a nightmare reminiscent of the worst design decisions from a decade ago. Or even before – I feel devs knew to avoid solutions like these even in times of PlayStation 2. But it's worth to gnash your teeth for an hour or two, because as soon as we go through this chasing apples and babysitting Gohan nonsense, the game begins to open up its virtual world for us, moving on to events that are remembered from the anime. And then it becomes interesting.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Five Days of Fun with Average Game - picture #4

SECOND OPINION

Dragon Ball is just part of my childhood – I adored the series as a kid. My love for it still burns, and I had high hopes for Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. It was supposed be spectacular – depicting all events from DBZ, great combat, and lots of side activities. A genuine RPG with real depth – unfortunately, it's not so colorful, because the developers gave "only" a solid, but average game.

The events of the animι were recreated perfectly – that's a fact, and a field day for fans of the series. Unfortunately, gameplay becomes repetitive quite soon, and after the first few hours, fatigue and boredom may appear. Even though we control different heroes, we continue to make the same attacks and fight in the same way. The character development system is unsatisfactory and overtly complicated. All side activities are boring and smell archaic – the entire notion of a semi-open world seemed superfluous to me. Constant jumping between areas, loading screens, and several types of small enemies were all irksome.

Still, I had the motivation to keep playing and trudge through the subsequent sagas. It was great to hear the iconic soundtrack, watch the scenes take straight from the animι, and hear the original voices of the characters. The spirit of Dragon Ball is present in many moments, and the length of the game is quite impressive, at around 30 hours. It's very much an unabridged version of the story, and the devs actually went as far as tying some of the original's loose ends. Too bad they didn't have enough time to diversify the fun and design more interesting side quests. As a big fan of the series, I rate the game a 7 – judging by the popularity of the title, however, I suspect that we might get a sequel and DB: Super adaptation. Hopefully, we will get a more interesting and challenging title then!

Gregory "Alban3k" Misztal

 
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