I want to start this article by stating what I mean by “First Impressions” and that means that the review is being made from the perspective of the first few hours of gameplay, are generally spoiler free, and should be recognized as early game reviews. I would also like to say that I am a pretty big Shonen Jump fan so this article may come across as a little bit biased, but I will try to be as objective as possible. With that out of the way, I have to say that Jump Force is a game all about fan service and relies more on nostalgia than deep, satisfying gameplay. While that may sound harsh it’s also the truth, the character roster is filled to the brim with beloved characters, stylish moves and finally settling the old debate of who would win between two of your favorite Jump characters, even if he didn’t have that move from chapter such and such of the manga and if it was in the game you would get totally owned. Sadly the actual gameplay is where the game comes up short.
The gameplay is the reason why I made the comparison to Dragon Ball: Xenoverse in the title of this article. Jump Force retains the fighting and character customization of the Xenoverse franchise, utilizing the same hold a trigger and press a face button to launch a special attack. The mission system and rewards work in the same way as well, where you get certain rewards for completing specific missions and unique items for getting an S rank on said missions. If you’ve played either of the Xenoverse games, you will remember what I am talking about because it is the same basic mechanics, so if you liked that then maybe you will enjoy it in this game too. One positive difference is that the actual combat mechanics are slightly different, with high and low combos at least making the combat feel slightly differentiated, but sadly it is too little to distinguish Jump Force enough to call it enough. The actual combo system doesn’t flow very well, for instance, if you were attempting to use a heavy attack in the middle of a regular combo it interrupts the flow and instead of creating a unique new combination mixing the two attack patterns the game switches to your standard heavy combo. While the transition from standard attack combo to special attack can be (and I do stress CAN BE) slick and feel really good, the actual face buttons do not mesh well killing the entire point of a combination system.
Even the story structure feels like the Xenoverse franchise, where you are introduced to the concept that the world is being devastated and you are brought on to a team of heroes fighting to protect the Earth from total destruction, the game even starts off with meeting Goku, Trunks, and Frieza so that doesn’t help the comparisons between franchises. The first real difference, if you could call it that, is when you are asked to pick a team nearly at the beginning of the game. The choice (if you can figure out how to make it, how to pick a team is one of the top google searches when you type in “Jump Force”) is between Team Alpha lead by Goku, Team Beta lead by Luffy, and Team Gamma lead by Naruto, but so far the only difference the choice seems to make is who you learn from and what your starting special moves are. After the tutorial, the game defaults back to Xenoverse where the game doesn’t inform you on basically anything else and lets you dive right into free missions and hopefully figure out how to move the story forward without looking it up online. While I can understand dropping a player into the world and letting them figure things out for themselves the sheer learning curve required to even start playing the game in full is ridiculous.
All in all Jump Force is shaping up the be the latest game to take decent gameplay and confusing mission mechanics, drown them in nostalgia and serve it to the public on a $60 platter. Plus if Xenoverse is the guiding hand then the game will also be loaded with dlc characters before you could say “Wait couldn’t that have just been in the main game?” If something positive could come from this early review, it is that it is so incredibly fun to see your favorite characters battle it out, but if you aren’t a big fan of Anime, especially Shonen Jump then I would recommend staying away as the game doesn’t live up to the $60 price tag.