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Preview: Hands-On With Jump Force's VS Mode

Last Monday, I was invited to Bandai Namco's London office for a hands-on with Jump Force's VS mode, and though it's come a long way since I last played it, is it any more enjoyable with the updated roster?

When it comes to previewing fighting games, I always go with the simple approach of trying as many characters as possible. This gives me an idea of how varied the characters are, how differently they may play, what their command lists are like and how well they play with one another. My hands-on with Jump Force was no different, but for the sake of nostalgia, the first team I picked was of course comprised of three of the six Dragon Ball characters on offer. Though I don't personally own it, whenever I play Dragon Ball Fighter Z, I main Frieza, Bardock and SSJ Goku. Bardock isn't one of the playable characters from the Z team in Jump Force, but Frieza and Goku are, so I went with Frieza, Goku and Vegeta - A top team for sure.

It goes without saying that Jump Force isn't anything like Fighter Z. It's an Animé based fighting game, sure, but that's about the only comparison to make here. Each Z character is vastly different to their Fighter Z counterparts, but at the same time, each of their movesets are instantly recognisable. You can expect to see Kamehameha's, Spirit Bombs and even Frieza's signature Death Saucer (dual Destructo Disks) move. I'll talk about the roster in a little more detail below, but the main thing that stands out to me is that Jump Force unashamedly stays as close and true to its source material as possible. In most cases, this is good as it shows a great deal of love, passion and respect has gone into the development of the game, but for one character in particular, this actually proves to be somewhat troubling. The offender? Sanji, of One Piece fame.

Sanji is a great character and as a general fan of Animé myself, I'm fully aware of his habits and overly chivalrous behaviour towards the opposite sex. If you're male, he'll obliterate you with a flurry of bone-breaking kicks for even looking at him, but if you're female? Well, he's almost certainly going to hit on you, but in as polite a way as possible, even if it's a little creepy.

Not even an exaggeration.
As comical as this may be, in Jump Force Sanji is completely and utterly useless against female characters. When faced against women, rather than lashing out with his usual overpowering kicks we're all used to, his entire moveset shifts. Depending on your input, he'll project a series of hearts that deal absolutely no damage to the opposite sex. It doesn't matter if you project them from your eyes, your hands or wherever, because they're all completely and utterly useless due to blondie being in love. That's right, when faced against women, one of the most aggressive fighters in the game becomes the biggest pushover. This forces you to switch characters, because he can still take damage, but just can't dish any out.

Jump Force boasts a pretty hefty roster of characters, but would we expect any less from the creators of Tekken? Well, yes, because it's being developed by Spike Chunsoft (the developers behind J-Stars Victory, One Piece: Burning Blood and Danganronpa) and not Bandai Namco's in-house development team. The most popular Animé series have around six playable characters each, which only seems to decrease in number the lesser known or newer the series. As an example of this, the Dragon Ball roster features Goku, Trunks, Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza and Cell, while the One Piece team features Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, Sabo, Blackbeard and Boa Hancock. The same number can be said for Naruto which features Naruto (surprise, surprise), Boruto, Kakashi, Gaara, Sasuke and Kaguya. Interestingly, Aizen, Ichigo, Renji and Rukia are the only Bleach characters to have made it into the game at this point, though each one seemingly has access to a portion of their Bankai power.

Luffy, Zoro and Sanji on Planet Namek? They won't be for long...
It's easy to see that this is one of the best looking fighters out there. Each character has a more realistic look compared to their animated twins, and the attention to detail is pretty nice to see also, with clothing that deteriorates over time that seems to vary depending on how much damage you've taken.

Combat is very fast paced, with the majority of it consisting of blocks, dodges teleportation parries. Each character has a number of special attacks that are unique to them, and though I didn't test out how much damage each character can dish out, it feels like each character dishes out the same level of damage, with an emphasis more on their own style and unique abilities, rather than purposely making one more powerful than another. Frieza bulks up just like he does in the Namek Saga of DBZ, Luffy jacks himself up with Haki and Asta (Black Clover) becomes a literal whirlwind of damage. Some characters are easier to use than others, but I'd say Goku, Ichigo and Zoro are probably the easiest.

There was one character in particular who stood out to me as being the most ridiculously over the top character in the game, and for once it isn't Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. No, this time it's a character I'd never heard of before - Ryo from City Hunter. His moveset is utterly ridiculous. When he's not shooting you in the face with his handgun, he's interrupting your moves with his Shotgun, Rocket Launcher, Dual Rocket Launchers and even a small red car that comes zooming in as part of his ultimate move. He's a ton of fun, another character that's easy to use and likely going to be one of the most overused characters in top tier play. It's absurd.

Midoriya getting ready to break his arm again.
As for how Jump Force handles, considering its fast paced nature, the controls are incredibly easy to use, perhaps even too easy, and most of the time you'll have no trouble following what's happening on-screen. It's a very nice looking game with easily accessible controls for people of all skill levels. I found the standard difficulty too easy, ramped it up to expert and found it too hard, lowered it to very hard and found myself on equal footing with the AI and then lowered it again to hard, which felt just right to me. This is something that will always be personal to the individual playing, but it's nice there are a number of difficulty levels to choose from.

Regardless of how big Jump Force's roster may be, there are always going to be characters you'll want included that aren't. As an example, Light Yagami and Ryuk from Death Note aren't actually playable, but are integral to the story. This is a little disappointing, but when you take into account Light can kill by simply scribbling your name into his Death Note, he'd be a little broken to say the least.

Bandai Namco hold a reputation for continuously supporting their titles post-launch, so there's a good chance you'll see some of your favourite characters at a later date - That is if enough people want them. We just recently had the announcement for Yugi Muto (Yu-Gi-Oh!) and having played him, I can tell you now that he mainly fights by laying down Trap Cards and summoning Dark Magician, but the point I'm making is that there's no reason why we can't have even more interesting characters added to the roster at a later date, especially if there's enough demand for them. I'd personally like to see Bon Clay (One Piece) and Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez (Bleach) make an appearance.

Jump Force releases this coming Friday (15th Feb, 2019) on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Keep an eye out for our full review, but in the meantime, why not head to Social Media in an effort to campaign for your favourite characters to be added to the Jump Force roster? You just might get your voice heard!

Looking forward to Jump Force? Had a chance to play the recent Beta? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on twitter @CaptainCortez.

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