I usually try to open a review with some kind of witty line, but this time I think I’ll just jump right in.
Jump Force is a 3D arena brawler from Namco Bandai, the company has a bit of experience in this field due to the fact that almost every anime action game it does ends up being a 3D arena brawler. Right before playing this I managed to get my hands on the My Hero Academia game and it plays almost exactly the same.
In case you have never played a game like this before I’ll break it down for you. You are free to move in any direction during a fight, the way the fights play out you will find there is usually some distance between you and your opponent. The game provides you with moves that can either trigger dash to close down the distance and open with a flurry, or you can utilize moves to dash away and charge up your power to unleash moves that people who know the characters will recognise as their signature moves. Combat is mainly high low combo based with some aerial stuff that kind of just feels automated into the combo animations. You have to fight as a team of three characters (mainly, but story mode can change this about) you can call other characters in as support and you can also switch on the fly, but as you share the one health bar I have to question why have a tag team mechanic if you are just going to take away the thing that makes the mechanic worthwhile. Moves look big and flashy but ultimately it comes down to the same button combos to perform them so no one really feels all that different to the tag team thing really does seem wasted to me as really there is never a need to tag out.
Like most fighting games these days there is a story mode, I wish there wasn’t but there is.
The game has you working for the Jump Force, an organisation that has a flimsy reason to have a bunch of characters from Japan’s weekly Shonen jump universes, you will find characters from the likes of Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece and Bleach mashed together into a game.
This agency works as your hub for the game, allowing you to take missions to progress the story, challenge people online, offline or against the CPU. While in the hub you can also spend money you earn in-game to unlock new things for your created character which you will need to do if you enjoy the game because the selection of items for customisation is really lacking out the gate. Some franchises are also criminally under represented despite being in the game so there is likely to be DLC later to fix that at a cost, obviously. But other franchises have a few too many characters, they could have done a better job balancing out the roster.
In a lot of ways, the game is like Dragon Ball Xenoverse if you have played that then you know what the hub world is like and you will either like that or hate it. I’m not a fan of the hub system myself and even the slimmed down version of the hub offered in Fighterz just seems like a hassle to me when I just want to jump in. Now back to the story mode, my biggest issue with the game pops up here. Now the game has a lot of cutscenes and you can’t skip them, this would be alright if it was not for the fact they are awful. Off the bat, the character designs for this game have always been up for debate and in-game fighting, they look alright (just), but in the cutscenes ‘OMG’, I just want to tear out my eyeballs. First off the game is trying to look realistic and it’s using a bunch of characters that are not really supposed to look realistic. What you end up with is a game that looks like when someone has modded GTA V on PC and added characters that are not supposed to be there, it just doesn’t look right.
As well as not looking right they are some of the most wooden character models I have ever seen, the fact you HAVE to watch the cutscenes means you are forced to endure this paper-thin storyline and horrid character models and animation.
During the hub world, there is also this music that plays like crap elevator music in the background, it plays constantly, it plays over side quest cutscenes, it’s just bad and doesn’t fit the game IMO and really started to grate on me. Other than that the actual combat is quite good, it is easy to pick up and you can feel yourself get quite comfortable with it pretty fast even if you are new to the style. the only issue is it has been done before and done better by the same publisher no less. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is a better game in every way because along with offering arguably better combat it manages to capture the charm of the characters you are playing as. Jump force misses the mark by miles and these characters just don’t work in this style.
I’m not saying the graphics are bad, not by any means. When you are fighting some of the special effects are stunning to look at and moves look like they pack the desired punch, the backgrounds and weather and lighting effects look great like they do in most Unreal Engine games. The issue is Unreal Engine just doesn’t seem right for this game. Like I touched on before, everything is just so wooden. If I was allowed to skip it I could forgive it to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, the only way to skip it is to skip the story mode. Do that and you are left with nothing but a vs game and that gets boring real fast (despite the fact the story is just a series of VS matches).
I so love the idea of an anime mashup fighter, but Jump Force just isn’t good enough. Namco if you read this just give the jump licence to Arc System Works and let them do it 2D style like Fighterz and you have just made the Marvel vs Capcom of the anime world. As it stands with this if you love anime and you don’t mind being disappointed then give it a shot. Better yet if you don’t have Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 get that instead.
*Code purchased for review purposes*