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Jump Force Review: A Bit Too Forced

When Jump Force was announced at E3 2018 I was surprised and excited to try the game out. As a massive fan of the animes and characters represented in this game I wanted to get as hyped for release as possible. After seeing the reveal trailer, what’s not to love?  Jump Force is an arena fighter that has the rare occurrence of including so many Shonen legends that have come to fight in one massive game to celebrate 50 years of a magazine that has held so much joy throughout generations. But does it hold up as a celebration for the iconic Japanese brand?

The Story

The story for Jump Force is the insanely basic cliche crossover storyline that feels even more outlandish than the plots of any of the animes the game is built around. In Jump Force, you are reincarnated as a hero after taking a shot from Frieza and join the ‘Jump Force’ a squad of the best Shonen Jump characters who have somehow found their way into our universe. While all of this is happening, new unique villains Kane and Galena come forth with mind controlled antagonists from other franchises while also having the ability to control some of the heroes.

The first few hours are your basic tutorial schticks where they spend an ungodly amount of time putting you through the ropes and that’s fine in most cases, but given the several issues plaguing this game as of writing this review it comes off as a pickle on top of a very under-baked birthday cake.

After a few hours of getting the groove of things with Goku, Luffy, and Naruto (while watching every cutscene because there is no skip button), the game starts throwing you new characters to interact with in the same way you unlock characters in Smash Brothers Ultimate. Many of the characters from each beloved franchise are intertwined in the story mode, so get ready to be in it for the long haul because beating the main story is your best way to getting everyone you know and love.

Tag Team Dream Matches

Content wise, this game is packed nicely. With over 40 characters ready to duke it out, Jump Force has brought the star power that no other anime title has done before. Depending on where you land on the spectrum of “is the story mode worth it?” the inclusion of a story mode can either hurt or help the amount of content in the game leaving that question very subjective.

The fighting mechanics in Jump Force are very solid to say the least although frustrating at times. There is a real sense of button mashing here for the casual fan while hardcore fans will find themselves mastering combos to take out opponents in one swift motion. The game is strictly a 3 vs 3 tag team affair although every character on your team shares the same health bar. One of my gripes with the game occured when I was playing Jump Force at E3 2018 as some games lasted around 2 minutes while others lasted 20 seconds. Luckily this time around I have had no experience of an extremely short match yet.

When you aren’t launched into a full scale attack or fending for your life you’re more than likely lounging around the hub where most of the downtime occurs. Whenever you aren’t in fights you are watching conversations between characters at the base or in a remote location being set up for a fight. While on the base you are able to see online players roaming around, visit shops, view missions, and play online. As stated previously it takes a moment to get rolling and once you do start rolling it never really takes off from there due to how often loading screens occur.

Forced To Watch

Loading screens are the bane of my existence and in this game it is escalated even further. Remember when I mentioned that between battles you are subjected to watching unskippable cutscenes? Imagine each cutscene being preceded by a lengthy loading screen followed by another loading screen for good measure. It’s that rough. Dialogue and cutscenes are pretty sloppy for a game offering fans the first interactions between several fan favorite characters. As for the graphics, each character seems as though they are nothing more than just a 3d base model slapped with the skin textures of your favorite Shonen hero with very little to no expressions, movement, or humanity. It feels like watching a puppet show with semi T-posed characters and it makes it all the more impossible to enjoy the Japan only dialogue.

There are two different types of cutscenes in Jump Force. There are cinematic cutscenes that try their best to convey the urgency of the story at hand, and there are the conversations that are automated cutscenes that feature little to no movement, no facial animations, and a lot of written dialogue. Conversation cutsenes are where you will get a majority of your fan service with no voice acting whatsoever.

Soundtrack Worth Jumping To

The soundtrack for Jump Force has multiple layers to it as it sounds similar to what you would find it an Avengers film but touched up with some of that classic anime flair. Each song is orchestrated well giving you the roaring emotion you’d find at the end of your favorite series or in a blockbuster game that Jump Force claims to be. As much as I can appreciate the original sounftrack Bandai has created I have a somber feeling that this game lacks a certain fanfare that I was hoping to see knowing this is a celebration of all things Shonen Jump.

Unskippable Conclusion

As solid as the fighting was in Jump Force, everything else felt, looked, and sounded clunky and seemingly unfinished. As a diehard fan of several of these manga icons I was hoping that this celebration would go off with a bang and instead, rather, it went off with a level of disappointment that I myself have not felt before for a game. Although Bandai Namco have confirmed that patches are currently in development that would fix a few of the problems listed in this review, I come out of this game witht he feeling that this was a poorly rushed title with the potential of an epic crossover between mangas greatest fighters. If I were to recommend a game to like-minded friends, I would have chosen several other games before landing on Jump Force.

The engine is in the vehicle but as of this moment the engine will not be valuable until the rest of the car is built properly.