Review – Jump Force

Initial impressions of Jump Force back at E3 2018 weren’t the most positive. The demo suffered from confusing visuals and framerate dips, but had enough charm to convince me to give it a go eventually. Being a successor to J-Stars Victory Vs., a title often ignored by most people, but a personal favorite of mine back in the early days of the PS4, I really wanted to like Jump Force. I certainly wasn’t expecting to dislike it as much as I did.

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Am I supposed to create an anime fighter or a Motley Crue band member?

Despite being the sequel to J-Stars, Jump Force looks, plays and feels an awful like the Dragon Ball Xenoverse games, even though it has been developed by Spike Chunsoft, not Dimps. Everything from Xenoverse is here, from the emphasis on a huge explorable hub world, experience points, a lengthy campaign, customization, and a smaller emphasis on playing with anyone that isn’t your created character. Yep, that’s right, this is less of an arcade-inspired party fighting game and more of a fighting RPG hybrid, going completely against the legacy of its predecessors, as well as its entire marketing campaign.

There are lots of characters to play as in this game, the vast majority making a comeback from J-Stars. The actual additions to the roster are minute and are mostly comprised of even more characters from Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Naruto, and the like, with the notable exception of characters from My Hero Academia, Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! and Light Yagami from Death Note. Just like J-Stars, you start off with a very small roster and have to unlock everyone else, but unlike the quick and user-friendly unlocking system from its predecessor, Jump Force requires you to endure its terrible story mode in order to unlock your favorite anime fighters.

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Look at all dat blur!

Jump Force‘s story mode is often unbearable. It’s a sad mixture of bland fighting segments, laughably bad storylines, and one of the worst instances of pacing I’ve ever seen in a game. The amount of loading times in this mode (and in Jump Force as a whole) is insane. Everything requires a long loading screen, from five-second cutscenes to the simple act of accessing an item menu. Creating your own anime character, something that could (and should) have been awesome, is also a bummer as the game gives you very few customization options, with most hairstyles and outfits being direct copies of what the main characters in the game already wear. No matter how much dedication you put into your creation, it will end up looking like a poor attempt at cosplaying Goku or Yu Yu Hakusho‘s Yusuke. Jump Force‘s story mode became tiresome mere minutes after I started playing it.

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Beating the living crap out of Boruto is still fun, though.

It doesn’t help that the game is very disappointing when it comes to its technical performance. Back at E3 2018, I was already complaining about its framerate and eye-straining motion blur and it’s my displeasure to report that absolutely nothing has changed. Jump Force is still an eyesore; its pseudo-realistic art style definitely doesn’t fit well with the anime characters that inhabit the game’s world. The framerate is still very erratic, especially during the game’s near-infinite amount of cutscenes. Not to mention, the motion blur is still present in excessive quantities. The combination of fast-paced combat sections, terrible camera controls, poor framerate,, and eye-bleeding motion blur results in a visual exercise of patience. It’s just too nauseating to look at what’s happening onscreen.

The sound department is also pretty poor. While there is a lot of voice acting and all original voice actors are present, Jump Force impresses with how poor its sound mixing is. Voice clips are very loud, while sound effects and music are barely recognizable. There are many moments in which I thought there was an issue with my TV’s speakers given how problematic the game’s overall sound design is.

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Heart of the cards and yadda yadda yadda…

That was my experience with Jump Force. A rushed and poorly developed product that features bad visuals, gameplay, sound mixing, terrible loading times, and one of the most irritating single-player campaigns in recent years. What should have been a simple and more content-filled sequel to J-Stars ended up being a poor man’s Xenoverse with less polished controls. This is not what anime fans deserve.

I’m not mad at you, Jump Force. Really, I’m not. I’m just very disappointed. I’ll just stick to J-Stars for the time being…

 

Graphics: 4.5

The realistic graphical style just doesn’t suit an anime-inspired game like Jump Force. Nor does the overwhelming amount of eye-straining blur effects and the bad framerate.

Gameplay: 6.0

It plays just like the Xenoverse games, with the added bonus of never knowing what’s going on due to the motion blur effects and poor camera controls.

Sound: 4.5

The voice acting is decent, even if the script is awful, but the game’s sound mixing is very poor. You can barely notice there is a soundtrack.

Fun Factor: 3.5

Between the campaign mode’s abysmal pacing, poor technical performance, bad plot, lethargic progression system, and insanely long loading times, Jump Force just fails at being a fun game.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Jump Force is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

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