Making the game with the Unreal engine meant that the team could add light effects to the characters midbattle with ease, as well as increase the scale (smashed-in buildings, demolished planets etc). These techniques and graphical additions, Hiroki says, were only now possible due to current-generation consoles.
It’s not only technical skill that inches the game closer to looking like a standalone anime — games like Naruto: Ultimate Storm are also approaching the style of the cartoons and comics that the characters are born from. However, what’s most notable with Bandai Namco’s latest Dragonball game is how the creators have intentionally made frame-by-frame animation a little rougher during cinematic close-ups and special moves. This matches how animators add a sense of speed and movement by a technique known as double-framing.
It’s tricks like this that seem to fool my eyes into making the game seem closer to Japanese animation than any I’ve played — even the same company’s other new title, Ni No Kuni 2. The team even used recent Dragonball Z animated feature films for inspiration, noting both the framing of characters during battle and how animators ramped up the dramatic tension during battles.
It’s not a completely flawless transformation just yet: Pesky jagged lines on characters break the anime illusion at times, but it looks just as insanely bombastic as the teaser trailer when you play it in person. These extra cinematic touches (like we’ve seen in Street Fighter 4 and 5), all add to the drama of the fight.
Dragonball FighterZ will launch for public beta testing this summer, aimed at balancing both the characters, as well as inviting broad feedback from fighting-game enthusiasts and Dragonball fans — it then has six months or so to go to ensure it’s ready for pro-fighters and fans alike at the start of 2018.
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