‘Jump Force’ review: A fun brawler with a lackluster campaign

Kyle Chua
‘Jump Force’ review: A fun brawler with a lackluster campaign
Sadly, the 'Jump Force' campaign mode is fan service done wrong

Jump Force
Available on PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Review code provided by publisher 

Much like its predecessor J-Stars Victory VS, Jump Force is a hardcore manga fan’s dream, bringing popular characters from the Weekly Shonen Jump publication together in one massive crossover brawler.

The game lets players pull off combos and perform flashy abilities with just a few taps of a button. It’s a feature we’ve seen similarly used in fighting games such as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Dragon Ball FighterZ.

However, unlike the aforementioned titles, Jump Force more often than not feels as if it puts spectacle above depth, which might put off serious fighting game fans.

Merging worlds

When you first boot up the game, you are immediately thrown into the opening minutes of the campaign – a mode that seems to have been added solely to explain why the likes of Goku (Dragon Ball Z), Luffy (One Piece), Naruto (Naruto), and over 40 other playable Jump characters exist in the same world.

While manga fans may get a kick out of seeing the different characters interact, a lot of the campaign’s exposition-heavy cutscenes are poorly animated, not fully voiced, and unskippable. Add to that the painfully long loading times that come in between them and the actual fights, the game’s campaign feels tedious and a chore to play.

The fighting itself is at least fun, albeit less nuanced than other games in the genre.

Heavy hitters

Jump Force is a 3-versus-3, over-the-shoulder arena brawler with a fighting system reminiscent of Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball Budokai Tenkaichi.

It has a simplistic control scheme that lets you string auto-combos with just two basic attacks: light and heavy. You can then extend these combos with four special attacks that are unique to each character.

These special attacks are easily pulled off just by holding the trigger button and pressing one of the four face buttons. Hitting any one of these moves feels incredibly satisfying as it often results in a cinematic pummelling of your opponent.

You can, meanwhile, defend or dodge against some these attacks with a well-timed sidestep, dash, or block.

What I didn’t like about the system is that your trio of characters share resource and health meters. This tends to make the matches much shorter than what you expect them to be, especially since some special attacks can eat away as much as a third of your health.

The fast and fidgety action of the fights also force the game to use a lot of motion blur to keep up with regards to performance, which can be jarring for some people.

Character creation

The game also features a serviceable character creation system. It’s not as robust or extensive as, say, a licensed wrestling game, but what’s there is enough to create a character that would fit in the game’s world.

You can earn in-game currency by completing various missions and challenges that you can later use to buy special attacks, healing items, and clothes for your created character.

Jump Force is unapologetically a vehicle for fan service in celebration of 50 years of Weekly Shonen Jump manga. Even though the core gameplay is enjoyable, it’s technical shortcomings and lousy campaign hold it back from becoming a brawler worth recommending. – Rappler.com

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