Review by Def Freak7

"What the crap? How'd the first two stink but this one rock?"

Once again, Atari and Dimps have put out a Dragon Ball Z fighting game. I wasn't very enthusiastic about the first two (as you can tell from the tagline), so I wasn't expecting much coming into this version. I've got to tell you this is one of the most pleasant surprises I've ever seen in games. This game really is a good game. You don't even have to be a fan. Even though it helps.

GRAPHICS: 7/10
For this edition, they used the cel-shading on the fighters again like in Budokai 2. It looks pretty good and the characters all look like they did in the anime series. The environments are beautiful and, of course, destructible. The menu screens are kind of cheesy, and so are the still animations in story mode. Still, these are pretty good graphics.

SOUND: 6/10
The voices in this game are all from the anime, but they can get REALLY ANNOYING! Let alone the menu screens, which already feature way too much dialogue, can get on your nerves. All the sound effects, however, are cleanly done and make you feel like you are in the anime. The music is kind of a mix between pop rock and techno. I thought it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. Also, when you're firing beam moves, it sounds like they're swearing at you! Kamehameha doesn't sound like kamehameha, rather a bunch of gibberish.

REPLAYABILITY/MULTIPLAYER: 7/10
There is multiplayer in every type of match except story mode. It is kinda fun to whale on your friends as these hyper-powerful characters. With all the fighters going online, it's a shame to see this miss it. You can definitely play this game for a while, as there are many capsules and characters to unlock. There are also 11 playable characters in story mode. That'll keep ya busy.

GAMEPLAY: 9/10
This game made an improvement above all the other installments in this department the most. They added a lot more unique things to really make it more like the show. There are beam struggles, in which if two players fire a beam move at the same time, you have to rotate the analog stick to have yours go through and cancel out your opponents. There's also Dragon Rush, in which you perform a rock-paper-scissors like thing to keep an attack going. You and your opponent both press a button, and if they don't match, the attack keeps going, and if they don't match 3 times, the attack is good and an uber amount of damage is placed. If at any time they match, the attack is stopped and you're back to where you were. Finally, there's teleporting. Basically, you can teleport either to dodge attacks, or juggle combo your opponent up to 4 times in the air. This is a cool feature that racks up the damage. All of these capture the feel of the lightning-fast anime and turn it into fighting gold. The story mode is also revamped from the stupid board game in 2, to an RPG-like experience, where you can fly around, battle people, and gain experience. The basic story is someone evil comes, you get stronger and beat them, etc. The story itself is kind of stupid for non-fans. Fans of the series will appreciate the attention to detail in the story, however. This is definitely better than the last one, even though the cutscenes aren't in full video like in 1. That would have been nice to see, but I'm glad they got away from the board game.
However, beauty is only "skin-deep", and there are plenty of faults in this game too. Because of the new features, the game is a lot tougher. The computer will cheaply teleport and hit you a ton of times at the harder levels. This only frustrated me as I was playing, taking away from my fun experience. Also, even though there are a lot of characters, the only real difference between them all is appearance. They all pretty much play the same as everyone else. There isn't enough variety in the styles. Finally, if the story mode were to include all the characters, then it would really be a big hit. Not saying that it isn't now, but it would have been nice to see everyone else in story too.

OVERALL:
This game is a pretty fun experience. You'll definitely have hours of fun play time at your hands. It's definitely a step up for the series, and it only makes me even more excited as to how they'll keep this going. You don't even have to be a fan of the series to like this game.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

RECAP:
+Whole game feels like anime
+New story mode better than old
+Tons of unlockables
+Great graphics
+Okay music
+Easy controls
+Great environments
+Cool fighting engine
+Fun game to play
-Voice-overs are annoying!
-Computer plays cheaply
-Voice-overs annoying!
-No online play
-VOICE OVERS ANNOYING!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/18/05


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