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Jump Force (PS4) Review

March 13, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Jump Force
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Jump Force (PS4) Review  

From the first trailer of Jump Force, I thought the game was going to be a disaster. There has never been a good 3D Dragon Ball Z game, and the Naruto ones aren’t much better. The inherent problem, at least with a DBZ fighting game, is that flying around is at odds with the camera, usually making a completely terrible experience. To its credit, Jump Force does side-step this problem but the things surrounding the actual fighting are baffling.

To start with, Jump Force is a Shonen Jump infused 3D fighting game. There are over 40 characters from series of Dragon Ball Z (obviously), Naruto, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, to lesser known ones (to me anyway) of Bleach, City Hunter, Black Clover, etc. Some franchises, like Yu Yu Hakusho only have one or two characters, while DBZ and One Piece top out with 6 characters each. So, if you are into any reasonably big Shonen Jump franchise, you’ll likely find someone in here to enjoy.

The controls are somewhat simple but that is because the fighting engine isn’t too complex. X and Y are used for light and heavy attacks. A is used to jump and B is the throw/grab button. LT is used as the tag in button, RT is used for charging up your power/doing special attacks. Finally, LB is used for dashing around while RB is used for guarding. Pressing the right analog stick in, when your “Awakening Gauge” is active also lets you enter in the Awakening Mode, which I’ll get into down below.

There are a few things to break down when it comes to the controls. First, there isn’t any flying at all. Characters can jump but they don’t zip around the stage while the camera tries (and fails) to follow them, so that is nice.

Second, when you hold RT you do power up but it is THE only way to do special attacks. When holding RT, the face buttons become your special move buttons, X is usually used for a beam attack, Y is a melee attack and B is something of a utility attack, but it depends on the character. This isn’t a rule for every character but just kind of a general guideline. The A button move is your super move and can only be used when you’re in the Awakened State.

Awakened State is a powered up form you can activate once you’ve taken a certain amount of damage. You become a bit faster and stronger but really you want to use it to do your super move. This move is pretty analogous to the X-Ray move from the recent Mortal Kombat games. This is the big, flashy, (generally) character specific move, like Goku hitting an enemy with the Spirit Bomb or Vegeta doing his Final Flash.

The tag system in the game is….weird. This isn’t like a Marvel vs. Capcom or Dragon Ball FighterZ system, where each character had their own individual life bar. In this game, everyone shares a life bar so if you are playing as Cell and you swap in Boruto, the life bar doesn’t change. With this in mind, I’m baffled as to WHY this is a tag game. I mean, most (if not all) characters play the same. Some might have an occasional different move but they’re all pretty similar. The characters that are the most different are the few JoJo’s characters and Yugi Muto because they have stands (or in Yugi’s case a card monster) that does most of their attacks.

Your character in the game is basically a blank slate. The story has you playing a regular human who gets blasted by Frieza. You get then resurrected with an “Umbra’s Cube”, which not only restores you but gives you super powers. Then you join the Jump Force, which is sort an inter-dimensional police agency to stop some bad guys using evil Umbra’s Cubes to infect people and destroy everything.

What this really means is that the game is giving you somewhat free reign in how you want to make your character. If you want to give him or her all the moves from Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, you can. You just have to purchase them from the store. You can buy and swap out your four main special attacks, it just requires you to buy them. This also goes for customization, there are a LOT of clothes and accessories for your character to wear, either general items or franchise-specific stuff, you just have to buy them.

There are two *really* weird quirks with the story, which can annoy a player. The first is that at the start of the game you are told to pick a Jump Force team: Alpha, Beta or Gamma. Alpha is about defending territory from the bad guys, Beta is about attacking the evil group (Venoms), and Gamma is about being stealthy and gathering info. Each group is headed by a main different person, Alpha = Goku, Beta = Monkey, Gamma = Naruto. You are told this is an important decision that cannot be changed once you make it and it will have repercussions for the story.

It’s a hill of beans. While it does alter what special moves you start with, that’s about it. There are a lot of story beats that still require you to talk to each team member to actually progress through the story. The missions might be different for each team but the end goal is really the same. Also, each team has their own separate area which leads into the second problem.

There is a hub world where you progress through the story, buy stuff, take on side missions, and is also a social space for you and other players if you want to play online.

THE GODDAMNED HUB WORLD IS MASSIVE! It doesn’t seem so big at first glance, it’s basically a main room with 3 team wings and a fourth where the commander is but my god does it take forever to get around. You even have vehicles to help you get around: a bike, a frog (don’t ask), a boat, and a Frieza chair (if you pre-ordered the game), and even this stuff is too slow. After the intro sequence I literally spent 20 minutes roaming the empty halls (this was before launch) of the hub world because I couldn’t figure out how to start the next story sequence. There’s no mini-map at all, just a rudimentary chat window.

The team wings just have the same things: mission, store, and ability kiosks. You can talk to a few of your teammates but they have almost nothing to say. 9 times out of 10, to start the next story mission you have to talk to the Jump Force commander, who has his own little office.

There is a lot of side stuff you can do, optional missions, really customizing your character with passive abilities, playing online, and so on, but the game just never feels fun. It’s not as bad as I initially feared but that still doesn’t make it a good fighting game.

Side note: Why the hell is there a buried, Planet of the Apes-esque Stature of Liberty in the Namek fighting stage? I’ve watched all the Namek/Frieza sagas and I don’t remember seeing that around.

Last note: There has been a lot of criticism about the game for how it looks. While the animation is rough, the plastic sheen some characters have is really off putting. They should have just done with Smash Bros does and go “This is all in a toy box and the characters are dolls”. That would have helped a lot.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
While the battle system isn’t as bad as I feared, it’s just very boring. The real problem(s) with the game though is the insane hub-world, the story being asinine and most of the characters just kind of playing the same with only a few exceptions. If this game just had a normal menu system, I would have bumped up this score by a point, if not two. But having to endlessly hunt down the next story beat was really annoying.

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Jump Force, Marc Morrison