Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review - a new direction for a well trodden path
With over 30 games dating back to the very dawn of video console gaming, coming up with something new in the Dragon Ball Z franchise is no easy task. So what could Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (DBZK) bring to an already heady mix?
For those that might not know, DBZK is a semi open world action RPG based on the Dragon Ball franchise.
Dragon Ball creator, Akira Toriyama, was involved in the CyberConnect2 and Bandai Namco game by designing the new original character, Bonyū. DBZK sold over 1.5 million copies in its first week of release, making it a commercial success - but how does it hold up under scrutiny?
Well, Kakarot starts off by introducing Goku and his son Gohan just before the Saiyans are set to invade earth, revealing Goku's true Saiyan background and sparking a chain of events that threatens the entire universe.
Sound familiar? That's because it is.
After all, this is a well trodden path for DBZ fanboys and girls. It is a story we have seen many times before and no doubt will see again in the future. Kakarot comes at things in a unique way, telling the tale through a narrative-driven RPG, rather than a the fists and fury of fast paced combat.
The fact that story wins over action here is surely a first for DBZ - but it's no bad thing
This is a massive and bright world which is both exciting to explore and fun to use as your virtual playground. DBZ fans are spoiled, but the charm that oozes out of this new adventure, and players will - if they are anything like me - find the joy in the interactions they have with different characters is just as satisfying as the famed Dragon Ball combat.
Using the Unreal Engine, majestic cutscenes bring DBZK to life in a way we haven't seen before. The big fights are nothing short of epic and will have you gripped. It's also easy to see why streams of people playing out DBZK major fights are just so popular online. It's a great watch.
There are some negatives, though. While there is a conscious effort to see story take a front seat over combat, it does leave the fight mechanics feeling a touch reduced and, therefore, a bit of a grind on occasion. Some of the interruptions when you are just getting stuck into some pleasurable exploring are very annoying as well.
But I'm all for originality and, overall, this very different approach pays off. Or, at least, CyberConnect2 lands it without really hitting a home run.
Kakarot's crowning achievement is its superb story presentation. Unfortunately the less successful RPG elements do not reach the same high standards. It is the story that is the beating heart of this game, though.
The fact that story wins over action here is surely a first for DBZ - but it's no bad thing, even if we have to suffer a few warts as a result.
Out: NowOn: PS4, XB1, Windows