- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
- Price: $59.99
- Release date: February 15th, 2019
- Date reviewed: December 10th, 2019
- Reviewed on: PS4
- Review code provided: No
Jump Force was first revealed during Microsoft’s 2018 E3 conference and was touted as the biggest celebration for the very popular Shonen Jump. But once the game finally released it proved to be a messy, glitchy, and overall underwhelming product that had the potential to be something great, but unfortunately it’s not.
Like most 3D fighting games before it, Jump Force has you and your opponent fighting in a small arena while being able to switch between 3 characters on your team. Jump Force has some basic staples that most 3D brawlers have such as blocking, dodging and counters but also implements escape and dash abilities, where if a player is knocked far away you can chase after them so you can try to continue your chain. When fighting against an opponent it’s possible to have the character that’s next on your team come in and assist you in some way. Depending on the character they can cancel an opponent’s attack or even stun them, leaving them open to a combo. The main draw of Jump Force is that you can play with your favorite anime heroes in a realistic setting. You can form your team of three from over 50 characters, that range from classic series like Dragon Ball and One Piece, to newer hits like Black Clover and My Hero Academia. Currently there are 2 DLC characters missing with a rumored second season on the way. With such a large roster many would assume that most characters would be copies of others but in reality it seems Bandai Namco really tried to make each hero or villain play just like they leapt from their respective series into your game.
A great example is Goku from Dragon Ball. While he fights like a brawler when you just use regular combos, once you use your special meter those change to familiar attacks like the Kamehameha or a Kaio-ken combo with his ultimate attack having him create a Spirit bomb then going Super Saiyan and blowing the arena up. This is where I come to explain the Awakening system, when in regular combat your character portrait has a orange gauge being filled as you take damage or land combos. Once it reaches the halfway point you can execute your ultimate attack which has you unleashing the strongest attack your character has, but if you keep on charging it until it’s maxed out and turns red you can do what’s called an Awakening. While everyone can activate this Awakening ability, only certain characters can use it to the fullest and actually change form. Characters such as Goku and Vegeta can become Super Saiyan, while Naruto turns into the Sage of the Six Paths. Once a character awakens, their power becomes stronger and both regular and special attacks cause more damage. Currently only two characters that can use Awakening twice to change into a second form, with Goku and Vegeta being able to become Super Sayain Blue, or if your being technical it’s called Super Sayain God Super Sayain. At the moment there are 12 playable maps that range from places in the real world such as San Francisco to places in manga such as Marineford and Planet Namek. One strange feature is the day and night cycle for the maps which changes the sky for the map, but makes a decent amount of maps unavailable until the day cycle becomes active.
The main story of Jump Force is really boring and bland with nothing of note, beside your favorite anime characters interacting and even that they mess up. The story begins with Frieza invading New York City and you getting caught in the crossfire. You’re eventually rescued by Trunks who uses an item named the Umbra Cube to recreate you into a Jump Force hero. Once rescued you are taken to the hub world of the game which is their base. After that you can partake in missions to stop the evil Kane and his army of Venoms, which are humans corrupted by Umbra Cubes. I’ll be honest, when I first played the story mode in Jump Force I only managed to finish 2 chapters before giving up due to how boring the interactions between everyone is, and how it’s just fighting against Venoms and the occasional Jump Force character. While it’s interesting they added new original characters to this game, the story mode is so boring and tedious that I only managed to complete the third chapter for this review before giving up. Most missions and cutscenes have no actual dialogue meaning it’s just characters moving their heads which is supposed to show they’re talking.
A good is that it’s very easy to learn the controls. With square operating as a light attack and triangle a heavy attack. You can get your opponent into a 3 hit combo with this successfully. You can follow them as they fly away so you can continue the streak with a high speed combo. High speed combos allow you to continue your combo in the air which allows for some really cool moments while playing.
I purchased the game when it launched meaning I was able to experience first hand how bad it was. While trying to play online I was disconnected from playing more than 5 times over the course of 8 matches, meaning I only really played 3 full matches before I gave up, and tried the next day. The online aspect of Jump Force today is still a mess with the hub world having a motion blur effect that immediately makes you want to stop playing. While online you can find players from all over the world in this hub world and even find your friends if they’re playing, but the main issue is that the game drops frames significantly when in online, and this is the only way you can access online matches so you have to struggle with this to play. Matches on the other hand are worse with moments of lag and inputs sometimes not processing in time. There were missing features that are staples of other fighting games. Like a way to immediately rematch your opponents, which was implemented 4 months after the games launch. Another thing that drags the game down is that all characters have a soulless expression whenever they are fighting. When a special attack occurs they do have their special attack animation. But when scenes like phase transitions occur, you can see their dead soulless eyes staring off into the distance as they are thrown far away. Also if you just started a special attack and see your opponent dodge it and come your way, be prepared to take an attack head on because once you start a special attack there is no way to stop it and begin to block. Also when you get stuck in a combo you don’t see anyway to escape from my best advice is to just give up. Even when you change to a new phase in the map the opponents can almost immediately use an attack meaning you have no way of defending yourself against a combo meaning you lost.
Overall I think Jump Force is a decent 3D fighter and had a lot of potential to keep players enjoyment for months, even years. But considering it took them months to fix some issues that had been plaguing it since day one and the incredibly lackluster story, it really shows that Bandai’s support for this game is dwindling down which worries me. If you really want to pick this game up wait for a price drop or sale. While a fun experience for anime fans I really don’t think it’s worth full price.