Dragonball Z: Kakarot - Completionist Review (PS4)
I wasn’t planning on playing Dragonball Z: Kakarot, but I have to admit it was an impulse buy after I watched Dragon ball super: Broly. And I have to say the new Broly movie is definitely worth checking out, much better than Battle of the Gods, Resurrection F, or the entire Super series.
So after about 45 hours and completing all the achievements, I’ll give you my review with what I liked and what I didn’t like as much. First off I have to say that I haven’t played any other Dragonball game since the SNES days, so this review is not going to include comparisons to past Dragonball games.
DBZ kakarot is definitely for fans of DBZ that fondly remember some of these epic fights, which the trailers of the game highlight well. The uninitiated won’t have the same experience as trying to cram in almost 300 episodes worth of the anime into a single game doesn’t allow enough time for character development and many scenes had to be left on the chopping block. The game is overloaded with fan service and collectibles, even after my playtime and unlocking all achievements, there is still more to collect and characters to level up. After hitting the 50-hour mark, I don’t see much replayability, but the length of the game is solid and nothing to complain about.
The story is broken down into 4 arcs, the Saiyan saga ending with the battle against Vegeta, the Frieza saga, the android saga building up to Cell, and finishing with the Buu saga. In between sagas, there are small intermissions where you are free to complete side quests and dabble in the many things the game has to offer. This includes collecting dragon balls, fighting villainous enemies, fishing, cooking, gathering collectibles, and other mini-games. While some of these don’t unlock until further into the story, there’s always a good amount of side quests to do compared to the main story.
The game delivers on what you’d expect, the graphics look great and intense moments from the anime are recreated beautifully. The voice acting is top-notch, with all the main characters using their original voice actors, from what I can tell at least. The game matches the tone of the anime really well, with a lot of lighthearted and funny dialogue. You get to control and play as 5 main characters during the game, (Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, piccolo, and future trunks) with the rest being support characters that assist you during battle. You get to fly around the semi-open world from west city to kame house, and there are a lot of areas that open up by the end of the game, including a few off-world ones.
The combat is diverse but ultimately is a bit disappointing as it easily becomes a button masher without much thought, and most battles can be won spamming the same button or attack. But there is more variety and depth that keeps things bearable. You can transform into super saiyan or different powered up states after unlocking it during the story. Some characters like Goku have multiple powered up states like kaioken, super saiyan 1, 2 or 3. While others like piccolo only have one. While you’ll do most of your fighting in the air, being knocked to the ground or fighting underwater can be a frantic mess as the camera is obstructed by rocks or trees.
The biggest weakness of the game is that the combat is too easy. As a result, I didn’t feel the need to invest time in many of the game’s features such as cooking or community boards to improve my stats. As you progress through the game and complete side missions you are awarded character emblems, used for community boards. Each community board gives you specific benefits in or outside of combat. For example, the training community gives you increased experience and defense, whereas the cooking community gives you a longer duration and boosts the effect of eating meals. You can level up your character emblems by giving characters specific gifts, which contributes to the overall level of that specific community board. New supers, passive abilities, training, and even your party members can be overlooked as you can just punch everything to death, along with the ability to spam consumable if you happen to be low on health.
Despite the difficulty, some mechanics make battles more interesting. There is a tension gauge that fills up as you attack and take damage. When it is full you can hold down the charge button to activate the surge effect, which unleashes more power for a short period. You can still be pushed back or interrupted, but the effect makes it feel like the framerate just took a huge dive, because you’re flashing in and out. You can also have energy wave clashes if you can act fast enough to fire a super yourself as you see the enemy’s telegraphing. You can also finish off your enemy in style if you use a super to launch him into space. While these mechanics are in the tutorial section, I ran into them randomly.
As you level up you automatically gain more health, damage, and stats. There is also a skill tree you can progress down using Z orbs you collect. There are a variety of different colored Z orbs scattered across the map, but after about an hour into the game, I didn’t feel the need to go out of my way to collect them. Z orbs are used to acquire new abilities, which are mostly restricted by level or unlocked through training battles. I tended to stick to the same characters unless I needed to switch for a side quest, and as a result, most of my support characters were drastically lower in level and did virtually no damage to enemies during the 2nd half of the game. It’s fun to swap around your party just to use their different super attacks, such as Killian's Destructo disk, Vegeta's Gatling gun, or piccolos special beam cannon. Getting stuns off enemies also gives these attacks a little bit of extra flair. But after a while you’ll notice that you can apply the same tactic to all enemies, mainly spamming the attack button, and once in awhile blocking to avoid knockback attack or dodging a super attack.
If you’re a fan of the original dragon ball there are a lot of Easter eggs that you’ll enjoy. Memories scattered around the world reveal story elements from when Goku was a kid, and If you’re controlling Goku at the time you get some additional dialogue. Many side quests involve characters from his past instead of just random NPCs. There is even classic filler episode from the show are incorporated into missions, like Goku and piccolo going to driving school, the great saiyaman, and even gag character Arely are all recreated for players to experience.
While that sounds all good and dandy, the game does make a lot of missteps that make it hard for casual players to get into. First off, while the open world is a good concept, flying from one place to another becomes a pain after a while. If you think about Marvel’s spiderman game, traveling from one place to another was fun despite having to go back and forth around the map because it felt like you where spiderman swinging from rooftops. This game, on the other hand, the way you move up and down in elevation is awkward and I never really got used to it. Also when you’re flying you can speed up to cover distance faster and sometimes instantly defeat enemies by colliding into them. This doesn’t work all the time and usually, you’ll be forced to stop and battle an enemy. Since main quests granted so much more experience, and you’ll never be short on Z-orbs there’s no real purpose to fight these enemies. They just became more frustrating when I just wanted to explore the map or collect certain items. Also when collecting dragon balls, you will spend lots of time waiting on load screens as there are about a dozen individual zones that require loading each time you go in or out. Another odd gameplay choice is how you fire energy blasts while exploring the map. You are forced to go into the first-person mode to shoot, and this is only useful when shooting mineral deposits or killing dinosaurs. It feels like your taking control of a vehicle and doesn’t feel quite right.
While I mainly enjoyed the side quests, most involve fighting robots from the red ribbon army. They all pretty much involve going to some location to kill an enemy or find an item, but the dialogue surrounding the characters and situations was worth it. After you beat the game more side quests unlock that have you facing off with pervious bosses that you wish back with the dragon balls. The game also has some portions that scale with your level and some parts don’t. For example, Each zone’s enemies scale with the character you are controlling, while other fights like the villainous enemies and training battles do not.
Villainous enemies are stronger enemies that glow red and marked on the map. There is a secret boss for killing all these villainous enemies, that is new to the game, but isn’t worth the time as there is no explanation or resolution with these characters by the end. Maybe it will be further explored in the DLC, but I mainly saw it through for the trophy. Speaking of DLC, recently it has been announced that the first DLC will feature Beerus and the super saiyan god form, basically the events of Battle of the Gods movie, or the first arc of dragon ball super.
Aside from the combat, which is about what I expected, the overall game felt too compact leaving out a ton of character building and a lot of scenes feel just feel too condensed. For example, they left out the “over 9000” moment from the first arc, it’s one of the first memes and that should have been in the game. There is also a huge difference in quality between cut scenes that you see in the trailer, and the regular cut scenes that make up a majority of the game. Side quests are given even less attention, not using voice-overs, and relying on tedious short sound bites. Together with what feels like an absence of music in general and overused sound effects, some scenes just happen and there’s no build-up or character investment. For example, the death of many characters happens really suddenly and no one really seems to care too much. This is especially true for the first two arcs of the game. The anime had battles full of desperation and you felt the characters where underdogs going into these fights, but in this game, you easily overpower all your enemies without much effort. It might also just be the art style, but the game just feels more PG with characters not reflecting how much they are damaged or beaten down.
I felt the last arc with Majin Buu was where the game started to pick up momentum since you get to spend more time with the characters and finally care if someone dies. The game also has some moments where the narrator, or simply black text, describes what has happened before cutting forward to the next scene. It does give it a feel like your watching the anime, but at the same time just feels like they are skipping corners.
Overall, the game has its highs and lows. The length of the game is good and can recommend it for fans of the show, but I would wait for when it goes on sale or once all the DLC is released. If you’re not a big fan of the show I would skip this one, and just watch rewatch Dragonball super Broly.
If you guys played the game, let me know what you think in the comments. And as always thanks for reading/watching and check out my channel or site for more videos.