Jump Force closed beta review - biggest anime game to date?

Published: 15:48, 15 October 2018
Updated: 10:05, 17 October 2018
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Ichigo Kurosaki in Jump Force.
Jump Force

We've played the closed beta version of the ultimate anime crossover game, Jump Force, and it presented us with a solid taste of how the full game is going to play. Flashy, quick and fast paced - the game ticks all the right anime boxes.

Jump Force is a 3v3 arena fighting game from Bandai Namco which features characters from the Shonen Jump universe. If you're an anime fan, odds are good that you've taken part in discussions such as "Goku could wipe out the entire Naruto universe!" or "Luffy couldn't do squat against Sasuke!"

Well, Jump Force is the game that will make all those question marks disappear because you can now assemble a team of Dragon Ball Z characters for example, and take on the fighters from the Naruto world, or One Piece, or Bleach - or pretty much any major character from the Shonen Jump roster.

So this game can best be described as a massive, anime crossover title which is an absolute dream come true for every fan of the genre. We were lucky enough to get in on the closed beta where we could try out the Online battle mode where we fought against other real players and the CPU.

The first thing we noticed were of course the graphics. Now, we know there's loads of absolute eye-candies out there, but we have literally never seen a better looking anime game than this one. The art style is perfect - it is just flashy enough to do the anime style justice, but there's also a certain hint of realism that not many anime games normally go for. For example, after the fight ends, the characters look worn out and you can clearly see the damage on their bodies with their clothes being almost completely destroyed.

Also the environment looks spectacular. We played the game on the PS4 Pro hooked up to a 4K TV and we were just dazzled by the tiniest of things, from the blades of grass moving in the wind to a literal jump from one area to the other after receiving a devastating blow. It all looks so glorious that it just has to be seen in native quality to be appreciated fully.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Vegeta and Frieza fighting on Earth in Jump Force. Jump Force is an absolutely gorgeous looking game.

At the start of the game, you get to choose your avatar who will represent you in the lobby where you can see other players roaming around, joining online battles and so on. You can also meet and talk to the anime characters present in the game who are remarkably true to their actual selves in their respective shows.

The character select screen has the characters from the same anime stacked next to each other, so for example you've got Goku, Vegeta and Frieza right next to one another; Naruto next to Sasuke and so on. Note that this is only the beta roster that you see on the screenshot below. There will be plenty more to choose from once the full game drops.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Naruto's profile in the character select screen in Jump Force. Jump Force character select screen.

Now, when it comes to gameplay itself, the game plays and feels amazingly fluid. We experienced zero frame drops and the overall pace of the game is blazing fast, as is the case with anime fights on TV as well. You play as a team of three different characters which don't have to come from the same anime giving you a chance to experiment and finally answer the question such as "How well could Goku fight alongside Sasuke?" or "Could Ichigo take on Naruto in his Kyubi form?". Well, the answer to all of these is found in this very game.

What's interesting about the fighting system in Jump Force, is that all three characters from your team share the same health bar, so it's not the usual case of team anime fights where players have to beat every character individually. This implies that players will have to choose the members of their team wisely and switch between the three at the right time.

The switching of the characters mid-battle is seamless and, if executed at the right time, can serve as a perfect counter or even as a combo attack. It's all about correct planning and execution in Jump Force. And of course, hyper fast reflexes - due to the fast paced nature of the game, you cannot afford to let your guard down, not even for one second.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Goku dashing to battle in Jump Force. Don't let your guard down, otherwise Goku's going to make you pay for it.

The controls of the game are very simple and straightforward, square and triangle buttons for light and heavy attacks if you're on the PS4, and X and Y buttons if you're on the Xbox One. If you want to perform a special move, such as the Kamehameha wave, you hold the R2 button on the PS4 or the RT button on the Xbox One and choose and press the corresponding button from the little menu that pops up in the lower left corner.

This is all pretty standard stuff and is the way controls normally work in anime games. It's a good thing too because keeping it simple like this makes it easy to connect combos and perform sweet ultimate attacks which look downright amazing.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Goku performing his ultimate attack move called Spirit Bomb. Ultimate attacks, such as Goku's Spirit Bomb, look spectacular in Jump Force.

We've played a good number of matches against both the CPU and other online players, and we're happy to report that we experienced little to no lag issues, and the loading times are fairly quick as well. A neat little feature of the game is that, while matchmaking is taking place, you can practice fighting with your team against the CPU.

Even though this was just the beta version of the game, matchmaking was seriously fast - so much so that we never even got the chance to practice fighting with our heroes during the matchmaking wait period. The game would just bring us from one fight to the other in a flash.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Sasuke and Naruto versus Vegeta and Zoro in Jump Force. Matchmaking is nice and quick, despite it just being the beta version of the game.

Another feature that we really liked is how true the characters are to their actual selves in this game. Right before the match starts, while the fighters are still eyeing one another and getting ready to throw hands, one of the guys from your team will say something that he normally would in the actual anime.

For example, Naruto is very much himself with being overly grateful to his team; Frieza talks about horror that he's about to impose on his enemies, and Vegeta is being his old cocky self as usual - but we love it. The level of authenticity in this game is easily over 9000!

Bandai Namco Entertainment Vegeta looking focused pre-battle in Jump Force. Characters are as authentic as can be.

So let's sum it all up real quick: should you buy Jump Force? Even though we've made it pretty clear that this game is an absolute must for every anime fan in the world, let us just say it again: yes - you should definitely buy Jump Force. It's really that good. The fighting feels awesome and authentic; the visuals are gorgeous and the game feels buttery smooth, and remember - this was just the beta.

Putting all the most famous heroes and villains from the Shonen Jump world together in one game and develop it using the Unreal Engine 4 is a recipe for success in our book. We can't wait to see what the full game has to offer, but to be honest, we've already seen enough to hop aboard the hype train. The game will be released in February 2019 on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and the date cannot come soon enough.