Alejandro Smith, February 26 2019

Jump Force is an Ugly, Albeit Fun, Disappointment

Ok, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m not professional game athlete, nor am I much of competitive player in any game. So just know I’m coming from a place casual play and good old-fashioned fun. In that regard, Jump Force is a fairly entertaining experience when you concentrate on the core mechanics of the game, which is the fighting, of course. I wouldn’t consider it my favorite 3D arena based fighting game, but it does have some good things going for it. Its fast paced, snappy controls allow for some fairly hype moments and the techniques each character displays are (more often than not) punctuated with clever camera movements. Overall, it’s a game that I can see myself popping in from time to time to let off some steam. So now that we’ve gone over with the positives, let’s get down to what makes this experience both ugly and a dissapointment. Both of which seem to stem from nearly every element outside of round-to-round combat. You’ve probably heard this countless times, but the animations outside of combat in this game leave much to be desired. I can’t truly put it into words, but if i were to attempt to do so, I’d have to compare the animations to the early 2000s amateur animations where people didn’t know how to properly pose and move 3D bodies to imitate natural movement or standard posing. All of the key problems you’d expect are here; unnatural neck proportion and movement, characters with hysterical walk cycles, and faces that simply do not emote. This emoting problem is deeply connected to the other aspect that ruins this game’s aesthetics for me. For many, the game can look good in screen shots and from certain angles. However, I have a major issue with the art direction Spike Chunsoft decided to go with. In my eyes, trying to retain a vast variety of anime art styles and merely dropping them into a pseudo-realistic environment does not do any favors for many of the characters on screen, and it is very apparent in cutscenes and non-combat scenarios. For some it works. The Naruto characters, for example, really benefit particularly well from the pseudo-realism due to their body and facial proportions. But when you look at someone like Izuku Midoriya, or Yami Yugi, you realize these characters look nothing short of alien and they clearly don’t belong. I think it’s commendable that the developers wanted to try something new for the genre of anime fighters, and I applaud them for the attempt, but the application, in this case, actively made the majority of the cast look much worse. There’s also little things like the use of movie style particles not carrying quite the same punch as a hand-drawn style would have. Or the sense that the music is far too generic sounding. Those are just nitpicks, however, compared to the immediate visual package we are presented with. 

Make no mistake, when I’m getting down to the nitty-gritty of the game, going toe-to-toe with another person, the game is a lot of fun. I reiterate that this not from a competitive perspective, but rather that of good, mindless fun that can be easy to lose yourself in when you play with some friends or (fr)enemies. I wouldn’t buy it for full price, but I don’t mind that it’s in my collection, at all.

 Side-note: Being a non-competitive gamer I don’t typically play games online, despite my favorite genre being fighting games. So I didn’t play any online matches to determine if the online features worked well. Like I said, I’m no game athlete. I just wanted to get this mini-rant out my system. 

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Alejandro Smith

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