Platforms: Xbox One, PC and PS4
Release Date: February 15th, 2019
Reviewed On: Xbox One X
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Price: $59.99 USD (Standard Edition)
Jump Force is the game that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Shonen Jump magazine and it has finally arrived. Ever since its reveal last year during Microsofts E3 event, anime fans across the globe have been clamoring for the game. With over 40 playable characters to choose from, a wide variety of maps and even custom character creation tools, now is the time to dive into the game and see exactly what it has to offer. (Note: I purchased the Ultimate Edition which gave me access to the game 3 days before release.
The story was by all means average; it was your typical anime tale that starts off by helping others defeat the bad guys in order to save everyone from the evil villains of the Jump Worlds. You start off as a bypasser who unfortunately gets mixed up in a battle between Goku and Frieza when you are instantly shot down. Fortunately, your character is promptly revived with an Umbra Cube. Your resurrection leads you to gain powers to fight alongside all of the other characters. The CAC tool (create a character) was in my opinion a waste because although you get to customize your character with different moves and outfits, it fails to immerse you into the story and failed miserably in making you feel like a hero. For all intents and purposes, it would have been better to leave out the feature as a whole and definitely out of the story.
The plot of the story was predictable and didn’t leave much to the imagination. As far as Light Yagami – the main protagonist of the series Death Note – was confirmed early on that he would not be playable in the game but was touted as having a major part in the story. Unfortunately, he was more of an afterthought. He adds very little to the overall plot and progression in the story. To me, he seemed more of a marketing piece to get fans of the series to check out the game. If you’re looking for a bright spot once you’ve completed the story, you get a glimpse of Light picking up one of the fallen Umbra Cubes which indicates a possible sequel. Hopefully if there is a sequel, Light Yagami may get a little more shine.
Now let’s get to the most important part, the gameplay. Unfortunately, the gameplay in Jump Force is very basic. The game employs standard combo moves with three super attacks and one ultimate. Players also have the ability to switch between two support characters which offer a little more depth in the game. Sadly enough – even though you can mix it up a bit with various combos using your support characters, it does get stale after a while. Though polished, the lackluster fighting mechanics don’t offer too much if you’re looking for a more hardcore fighting experience.
I played the game on the Xbox One X and even though the game ran fairly smoothly, I did have plenty of problems with the frame rate. I noticed that the frame rate was up and down through the entirety of the game. Making matters worse – I experienced multiple game crashes though this only happened when playing online.
The online portion of the game was stable and a lot of times functional until you experience the aforementioned random crashes when roaming the lobby or finishing a match. One feature I do love is your ability to go into a practice battle while searching for an opponent. I wish this feature was in more fighting games as it helps you to shake the rust off if you haven’t played in a while or to get that last minute training in for that new combo move you’ve learned. When pairing up with a friend there is no lobby system in place. You have to send an invite to your friend play a match and once it’s over you have to redo the same steps in order to play again. While this isn’t too annoying, I hope the process will be fixed. Regardless of these issues, players are still able to easily get into matches and battle with others.
As mentioned before, the Create a Character tool is rather basic. The various costumes are just color variations of themselves and although you can use moves from characters in the game, you can’t use all of them. Certain moves like Yugi’s Dark Magician attack cannot be equipped to your custom character. In the story, your newly created character doesn’t have any dialogue at all despite having been able to choose a voice during the creation process. This makes for an overall dull and lifeless experience when playing with your custom character.
There isn’t much to say about the graphics in Jump Force except that they are astounding. The character models are great as well as the stunning and detailed environments. A lot of times while playing I just stopped and enjoyed the environments and all of the particles effects taking place during the battle. The attention to detail was immediately glaring when looking at the character costumes. You can literally see the individual fragments of cloth – especially when battle damage has taken place. Spike Chunsoft truly succeeded in bringing the world of Shonen Jump and its iconic characters to life.
The audio for the most part was pretty good. There were some bright spots during the story that helped make certain boss battles more intense. The voice actors for the various characters were great as they truly embodied and brought to life all of the characters from the different series. The bass from the clashes made you feel as if these superhuman entities were truly fighting and shaking the world with every blow. Other than that, the music in the story mode generally didn’t make me feel as if the world was in danger or that we were in a dire fight for survival.
Jump Force isn’t a perfect game or the experience anime fans expected (hoped) it would be. Considering that this is the 50th anniversary of the Shonen Jump universe, I expected more of an attempt to fully bring the world of Shonen Jump to the forefront with more fan-favorite characters as well as a more in-depth story. However, even though the game has some rough spots that need to be fixed from random crashes to frame rate dips, it is very fun. Especially when playing with friends. I would definitely say if you’re an anime fan or just someone who isn’t heavy into the fighting scene and is looking for something to fill the void – Jump Force is worth trying out.