As pretty much a raging Dragon Ball fan boy in my younger years I have always held a soft spot for the adventures of Goku & the mostly redundant (especially after the Frieza saga!) Z Warriors. I was in two minds to get this title even after playing the demo I had downloaded from the PSN store. Want to know how it turned out? read on!.
The first thing you'll notice when you launch the game is certain attention to detail around menus and the like. The game starts with Goku shouting "People of earth! Share your energy with me!" something fans of the series should well remember!. From then you have Options & Mission mode unlocked (you unlock a further two menus once you have finished the tutorial).
Options is the usual menu it is in all games, sound & visual changes and the like, it also features dual audio for the people who like to play with the native language. Something I am usually a fan of but being born & raised on the dub makes it difficult to handle. There is also a meter showing how much World Energy has been shared with Goku, it's a mystery as to what happens when it is full but it's still a nice little touch.
Mission mode is where you'll be spending most of your time, my issue with this first of was that it's a pain to navigate!. It'll take you a good 5 to 10 minutes to get a feel for it and figure out where everything is. It does have the Dragon Ball aesthetic so I do have to give it bonus points for that, it looks as if you were looking into a Scouter. This menu is where you launch the missions based off the manga/anime. Alongside the usual story mode you have missions where you play as the villains e.g Vegita & Nappa vs Z Warriors.
This doesn't affect the route at all and are all meant to be tackled, it's just a nice little addition for fans of the darker Dragon Ball characters. Alongside that is Another Age, this is basically a fun bunch of What If? challenges for example beat 100 Saibamen with a team of your choice.
Also in this menu is your card collection, for the collectors of the world they have included a card system into this title. You unlock cards either by missions,battling online or buy buying them from the in game store with Dragon Points or the rarer cards with Prestige Points. This is where alot of people will spend a huge amount of time, tailoring their character to make them play exactly how they want them to. I would be lying if I said I had no interest in collecting the cards, as with any good system like that I have become almost fixated on getting the best cards and applying them to my favourite fighters.
The mission layout is pretty simplistic but suits the general feel of the game. Following the basic plot set by Dragon Ball Z you proceed to battle various bad guys of the universe all shapes and sizes. The cutscenes and script are kept to a minimum so fans will know where they are up to but people new to the series will have no idea what is going on a majority of the time!. Before you set off into a mission you need to pick your Z Warriors. The drawback of this is due to it working within the Saga structure of the series only some characters are available some of the time. This is a massive blow should you want a mixed team of Good/Bad to take on various story challenges.
Once you have picked your team you hit the field, they are brilliantly done in this game and generally feel like a joy to battle on. Destruction is apparent and few mountains or trees will be left standing after an all out war of Ki & Melee. This brings me to how it controls!.
Due to the team based structure of the game, every character has a certain role, for example Goku is a Melee character. This means he is a hand to hand combat expert and has various ways of breaking down people's guard. You also have Ki specialists, these guys are your projectile throwers, designed to keep the heat on a foe at a reasonable distance while your Melee character swoops in to follow up for huge damage outputs. Interference is good for stopping Ki & Melee attacks leaving the foe wide open for damage & Support are your back up helping to maintain your energy and health levels.
Combos are simple to pull off as it's a matter of hitting the attack button, there is an art to guard cancelling but it's a far cry from Budokai & Tenkaichi's combo system. There is a bigger emphasis on strategy and teamwork. Some people will see this as boring, myself I learnt quickly how fun the game with this set up could be & how something like this hasn't really been done with the licence. It's a more strategic battle party game in a way, a pick up and play brawler with team work emphasis.
Over 70 characters from Dragon Ball Z to unlock, though I do have to point out that due to no fusion or Transforming mid match it counts all the different fusions and transformations of characters. It also like most sources disregards GT all together but this is to be expected due to it only saying Z in the title. It features characters & the newly created Super Saiyan God transformation from the latest film "Battle Of The Gods". Die hards will be pleased to see these additions, the only issue is the film is yet to launch outside of Japan so some people will be a little confused as to why Goku has gone red & is fighting a Pudding obsessed purple cat.
Online for this title is be pretty good with the multiplayer teamwork gameplay system, the only issue with this is that with the less popular titles even at launch there isn't too many people playing online & those I had tried it with had less than stable connections. Hopefully it'll take off in the coming weeks & I will try to add an update on here with how it has played out.
A huge issue I have to point out with this title is that there is no exhibition mode!. I understand they have mission mode but not every angle is covered in there and thus there is no way to create an ultimate dream match up war. This unfortunately does damage the title as hole as it's a huge thing to overlook and cuts the re-playability down by a significant amount. My hope is that it'll be patched in or offered as free DLC at a hopefully not so later date. Should this happen I will re adjust my score appropriately.
I am having a huge amount of fun with this title & at the end of the day it's why I play games, it's sadly not the strongest Dragon Ball title and does have it's flaws. AI drastically needs improving for the next title if it follows this style, it just isn't responsive enough to cater to the battle madness & you are often left in the cold by your support. All in all as many issues as there are I can't help but continue to give the game more of my time, it has a fun addictive "One more go" quality about it that I can't help but feel it's justified my purchase.
With this in mind I will be awarding Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Z
"Fun title with a few huge flaws knocking it far from god status. Fans only apply"