AX 2018: Jump Force Preview

Bandai Namco's upcoming manga/anime title Jump Force has a lot going for it in the form of an impressive cast of characters and a unique aesthetic. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of its core gameplay for now.

Right off the bat, upcoming manga/anime brawler Jump Force sounds like the fitting culmination of 50 years of Japanese manga publication Weekly Shonen Jump. Starring some of the magazine's most prominent characters throughout its existence, including Naruto, Goku, and Luffy, the arena-style fighting game pits these properties together in an all-out battle filled with energy blasts and extendable appendages.

Perhaps the most striking departure from each series' source material is the realistic aesthetic that Jump Force is based in. So far, it seems as though the game has forgone charming anime settings in favor of a photorealistic art style. The stages available to me at this year's Anime Expo, in fact, were set on the Matterhorn in Switzerland and in New York City's Times Square. The overall look didn't spoil the mood, though I can imagine it may upset some diehard manga loyalists out there.

JUMP FORCE - E3 Announcement Trailer | XB1, PS4, PC

From a graphical standpoint, Jump Force is a marvel to behold, espicially during actual fight sequences. Characters are able to utilize the environment to their liking and can breifly change the landscape depending on the special move a player is triggering. For example, Dragon Ball's Frieza can pick apart pieces of skyscrapers in the area around Time Square and launch them toward his opponent. In Matterhorn, Goku's special attack literally breaks apart the ground from underneath the player's feet. No matter what character you're playing as, it seems as though Jump Force is purposefully designed to make the player feel like he or she truly is the embodiment of the manga/anime personality onscreen. The result never ceased to pump me up before, after, and during a match.

As for how Jump Force's core gamplay goes, each match sees teams of three face off against one another. Players are free to choose which characters they would like on their team beforehand, of course. Combatants can be shuffled mid-battle and can come together to perform a neat team attack with the gentle press of a button. Individual specials are activated through the use of the right trigger once a guage has been filled (this can also bring about those aformentioned environmental attacks).

Jump Force's fighting mechanics adapt most from the Xenoverse series. Each fighter has light and heavy attacks in his or her arsenal and can dodge and rush opponents as he or she see fit. Players will be doing this often, as movement is extremely quick. This is perhaps the game's glaring fault at the moment – the actual fighting mechanics in the title lend to incredibly short matches that last mere seconds long. Health is depleted in the blink of an eye, too, making the need for calculation that much more integral to a game founded on gameplay that's too fast for thought. It's not too hard to imagine scores of players simply mashing buttons to get by if the game releases as is.

Jump Force has undoubtably attracted a lot of attention already for its unique premise and impressive cast of manga fighters. It remains to be seen if the brawler will have the smarts to match its wonderful premise. The game is due out for Xbox One, PS4, and PC next year.

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