Kakarot’ provides epic anime experience mired by mundane XP grinding

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“Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” released on PS4, Xbox One and PC Jan. 16. Credit: Justin Herold | For The Lantern

Unlike any “Dragon Ball” game before it, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” delivers fresh gameplay and a new perspective on the beloved anime story. The game does not come without its flaws, however. The strengths outweigh the weaknesses of this game, but certain issues arise while playing that stay constant throughout. Even so, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” delivers a video game that relives the epic stories of Goku and friends.

Kakarot is essentially the first of its kind in video games for the “Dragon Ball” franchise. The game is a blend between action and RPG. The game tells the story of Son Goku, an alien sent by a race known as the Saiyans and raised on Earth, following the “Dragon Ball Z” anime with a few minor details added in to start the game. Goku and friends are visited by a Sayian who tells Goku of his origin and proceeds to kick off the events of the game and anime.

The animation that has gone into the story’s retelling and game layout is breathtaking and gives the world the extra push it needs to truly immerse players. Whether watching cutscenes between battles or flying around in the open world, the visuals are a sight to behold. Along with the cutscenes’ animations and open world travel, the actual gameplay and intense combat are amplified by the animation that helps bring the anime to life.

When the game throws you into your first encounter with an enemy, it can seem as if it’s just a button masher. However, it doesn’t take long for the game to start punishing those who intend to just pummel their foes. Combat can be difficult depending on the foe and your respective power levels.

The generic goons come in a few different varieties and pose little challenge. Then, there are the villains, the lackeys of the major bad guys in the game. The villains are slightly more aggressive and have sets of moves that can stun and inflict great amounts of damage. Those fights come with certain moves that get special animations that change the perspective of the fight.

Finally, there are the bosses of the game — series icons such as Vegeta and Frieza — who can be tough if not approached tactically and with proper leveling. Their move sets also include animation that switches the perspective of the fight and even combinations that lead into another animation to continue dealing out more damage. With all that went into the combat and aesthetics, other elements seem to be lacking.

The aspects of “Kakarot” that make it stand out from other “Dragon Ball” games are the ones that weigh it down. At the head of the problems are the side quests, which mostly involve going to a certain location to beat up generic goons or going to another area and gathering resources to bring back to whomever sent you.

The aforementioned generic goons roam around waiting for you. If you are seen, they give chase just so you can repeatedly beat them up and hope not to run into more within the next 10 seconds.

Combat can be great and enthralling at times, but it can also have its moments of charging up the ki meter just to launch the same four special attacks repeatedly until the battle is over.

“Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” does a great deal to satisfy. It starts off slow and clunky, but picks up the pace throughout the rest of the game. There are different interactions and even rare side quests that bring comedy and entertainment to the game. The pitfall of boring side quests hurts the main game only because the experience points they provide are necessary to level up for fights with higher level opponents.

All things considered, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” rates a 7.6 out of 10 for a fantastical retelling of the anime with a flair for animation, storytelling and gameplay that makes it the first big game launch success of the new year.

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