Jump Force is the culmination of 50 years of Jump Shonnen’s best and brightest. To celebrate their 50th Anniversary Bandai Namco brought us a new title to sink our teeth into, but does it live up to it’s hype of being the anime equivalent of the Avengers?
In a word, no. Unfortunately as an overall package it’s not what I was hoping for. I’m a massive anime fan so theoretically this should have been everything I’ve always wanted. While I admit it is pretty cool to see all these amazing characters sharing a space together, it’s done in a way that left me feeling very frustrated.
I’ll start with the story mode which is the bulk of the action. The decision not to dub the game is a mistake from my point of view and alienates those who may not like watching anime with subtitles and anyone new to this genre. Along side that, while the concept is great, bad guy opens up rifts between worlds and all these different characters come together to fight said bad guy and a collection of other villains who came from the different worlds, it just isn’t executed well. There are a few twists in there too which are fun but, especially if you’ve watched the associated anime and understand the characters, are slightly predictable. The follow through on this though is, frankly, boring. You start off as innocent bystander who is caught in the cross fire of the assault on earth by Frieza. You’re then brought back to life as a member of the Jump Force and given powers by a magic item called the Umbra cube.
At this point you create your character which felt pretty comprehensive, and I ended up playing around with it for a while! I was stuck between creating a character based off of an anime not represented in Jump Force (as the tools had a fair few references to others!) or a completely original character based on myself! I loved the references to different iconic symbols/looks that were put in the creation suite and decided on an original character who had been taken over with the Majin symbol on his forehead (ala Vegeta in the Buu Saga!).
After going through a few tutorials you are taken to a home area that is your main hub for everything the game has to offer. You must navigate to speak to other members of the Jump Force and progress the story or you can go to different kiosks and speak to NPC’s to either buy items, start missions or play online/offline arcade style battles. It’s a tedious way of navigating each mode and it’s very similar to the type of set up Dragon Ball Xenoverse had. As you progress through the game you see that the animations during cutscenes are really poor and dull in a title full of bright and colourful characters. It’s yet another place the game feels like a let down. They just don’t feel fluid or natural in what are already pretty boring text chats most of the time. Some have voice overs and some don’t, it’s an odd choice from the developers.
Purely from a gameplay point of view, the game is fun and it feels easy to pull off combinations and classic attacks. The inviting controls means that anyone can pick up Jump Force and easily have fun. With a title of this nature I don’t think they could have done anything more to innovate the gameplay without over complicating it. The 3v3 teams mean that you can put together some really exciting and fun combinations, such as Goku, Naruto and Izuku Midoriya or Vegeta, Gon and Ichigo! This is easily the best and my favourite part. Especially because they have included some really gorgeous looking cinematics during the fights to emphasise special moves and transformations. You mainly use (on PS4) Square to attack your opponent, button bashing it to chain hits and create a rush attack. You use Triangle for heavy attacks, and hold R2 to bring up the list of special attacks attached to each face button. It’s simple but effective and you can’t argue with a good old fashioned button mash-fest! You can also use the shoulder buttons to swap your characters in and out and a combination of them to power up and transform if your character has that ability.
Graphically I have mixed feelings on how the game looks. Generally the game looks fantastic and I have previously praised it for it’s art direction. However looking back at probably the best anime game of recent times, Dragon Ball FighterZ, I think I prefer the more anime 2D cell style. At times I was thinking the game looked stunning but character models specifically had a strange look to them (Goku in Super Saiyan is a good example, look at his clothes). The graphics trying to merge realism with anime models didn’t always work particularly well, although environments looked stunning.
There were other issues at launch too but I have to say Bandai Namco were very quick off the mark to get on top of them. These included extra long load times, the inability to skip cut scenes (which was infuriating) and general bug fixes.