[Please note: much like the game itself, I won’t outright spoil story beats, but the game does presume that you have prior knowledge of the Dragon Ball saga and at least a passing idea of what happens in Dragon Ball Z.]
Release date: 2020
Version played: Playstation 4 in 2020
An open world action role-playing game set in the world of the decade-spanning, international anime phenomenon, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was released in early 2020 for modern consoles and PC. Spanning from the beginning to end of Dragon Ball Z — that is, the arrival of Raditz to the destruction of Kid Buu — players take control of Goku himself, as well as a handful of other Z-Warriors, as they battle for the safety of planet earth, utilising spectacular ranged and melee offensive manoeuvres against dangerous foes. An open world allows for exploration and a variety of size activities, including fishing, cooking and, of course, collecting the Dragon Balls.
+ there is nothing overly new in the main story, which took me bang on 50 hours to complete (including every side quest), but I don’t think anybody expected this to be a Xenoverse-style fan-fic game. Most of the major moments are here, either as playable battles or gorgeous CG cinematics, and only the best parts of the anime filler are present (ie. you will have to learn to drive a car)
+ the newly done CG cinematics (opposed to the in-game model cut scenes) are gorgeous, to the point where a few times I wished they were even longer. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re watching a beautiful new remake of the anime at times, especially with the majority of the original English voice actors returning, and the classic anime soundtrack out in full force
+ the side quest objectives are generally a variation of either ‘find this’ or ‘kill that’, but the story chunks they add are fantastic. Revelations surrounding Gohan’s Great Saiyaman poses, where the human-animals from Dragon Ball went or what Launch has been doing since she was forgotten are all solid, seemingly canon additions
+ there is an interesting addition called the Community Boards, wherein you place ‘tokens’ of each character you have defeated in the story/completed a side mission revolving around, which provide various in-game boosts, such as melee damage boosts, cheaper healing items to purchase. Discovering connections between characters, and the small audio sound bytes that play, are a genuine joy – and the bonuses are super helpful, too
– the game is a bit clunky, with things like picking up items not registering, or a few dialogue lines being repeated in the same cutscene. Early on, I had many problems with random PS4 crashes, which did lead to a game breaking bug I was able to resolve by losing several hours of play time. Similarly, there are quite a lot of loading screens, such as travelling between areas — a loading screen is acceptable, but not the long load times. Most annoying are side quests which require, for example, travelling from Capsule Corp to Goku’s House and back to Capsule Corp, which are just loading screens with twenty seconds of dialogue in between
– I was really disappointed at how ‘safe’ the game was. I would have liked a segment where you have to play as Zarbon/Dodoria to collect the dragon balls on Namek, or play as Hercule and do zero damage with your attacks against Cell – anything outside the obvious would have been a nice change, especially since all of those characters are in the game as opponents already
> I had taken numerous screenshots I was hoping to attach to this review, but apparently Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is restricted on PS4 for captures. There is an easy workaround using the PS4’s Share Factory, but this was still a silly addition
Should you play this game: Conceptually, this was a strange choice, as RPG elements don’t suit the flashy substance of Dragon Ball Z fights. That said, this ended up being a lot of fun. Combat was simple to learn but lots of fun to master and the story was exactly what you would expect, as well as a few really interesting tidbits to pad it out.