Review by jmd777

"Limited and Recycled"

Introduction

Well, we've finally gotten our hands on Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit. Being the first Dragon Ball Z game for the Xbox 360, one would expect it to be a huge improvement over what we've seen already with other Dragon Ball Z games. While it's not a TERRIBLE game, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. If anything, it feels incomplete. There is much more that could have been done with a Dragon Ball Z game on current-gen consoles. Burst Limit just doesn't provide enough to keep you playing for long.

Gameplay - 6/10

The gameplay is easy to get used to, but it has a few flaws. First, a quick explanation. You have two buttons for your melee attacks. You have your block button, and your ki blast button. Moving in a direction in combination with pressing your ki blast button will activate a special attack. Your left bumper will activate your “Aura Spark,” which is a nice power up. With some characters, you also have the option to transform with the right bumper. It's just what you'd expect from a DBZ game, and it works pretty well.

What doesn't work well is the AI. The AI fights cheap. Eventually, an experienced player will find ways around the AI tactics, but they pose a problem when you're still getting used to everything. There will be times when the opponent does nothing but block. There are no penalties for excessive blocking, and the AI will take advantage of that. If you find yourself far away from your opponent, there is a good chance that they will repeatedly use their special attack, and little else. It's not hard to get trapped for a moment before escaping with a large chunk of your health missing. To be fair, these issues are not impossible to get around. They aren't game breaking. They will just be frustrating to players that have yet to learn how to avoid them.

Another issue is the Drama Pieces. Drama Pieces are short cutscenes that interrupt fights. They are usually something minor, such as a character powering up, or an ally attempting to help out. While they aren't a big deal at first, you'll get tired of them. They cause unnecessary changes in the fight when you don't need them. It's not uncommon to be beating an opponent senseless, and then a random Drama Piece decides to throw in a handicap for either player, such as faster ki regeneration, added defense, etc. This wouldn't be such a problem if it didn't interrupt the gameplay as much as it does. There have been times that I would be charging and Ultimate Attack, only to have it “cancelled out” mid-charge by a Drama Piece. Once the Drama Piece was over, I would no longer be charging my attack, but my ki meter would still be empty as if I fired it. This problem wasn't so common, but has happened to me two or three times.

Story - 3/10

The “Story Mode” of the game is called “Z Chronicles.” Z Chronicles actually doesn't make for a very good story mode. It seems to skip around a lot, parts are left out, and other scenes are repeated. There's no actual story being told. The player only witnesses a bunch of random fights with very little explanation as to what's going on. The only thing that even resembles a “storyline” is that the player will fight the main villians in sequential order. The game actually feels similar to Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension in a way. It's more based around the actual fighting while only giving you just a little taste of the Dragon Ball Z story. In a way, it's understandable. Not a lot of people are playing a fighting game for a story. On the other hand, the game is marketed towards Dragon Ball Z fans, who would probably like the storyline left intact. The game also leaves out the Buu Saga, which is a letdown, only because the cut-off point is so close to the end of the series. It's a shame it couldn't have been added in.

The game also has a problem with repetitiveness. Many parts of the short cutscenes are reused often, just with different characters. Before a fight, you'll often see a short cutscene involving one character attacking another. The attacks themselves are always the same. One character charges at the other and hits him in the stomach. The camera zooms in on the person's face to show their blank pupils and the surprised look on their face. Or you'll witness a scene where one character punches another in the face, and the one that gets punched will look back and smile, unaffected. The scenes themselves aren't so bad, it's just that you'll see the same ones over and over again. There's no variety.

Graphics - 8/10

One of the good parts about the game. The graphics are great. Very clean looking, nice and colorful. All of the special attacks look fantastic and most of them are unique. The ONLY thing that I didn't like was that the impact didn't seem like much when characters hit the ground, but I can definitely live with that when everything else looks so good. The characters have never looked better, the environments have never looked better, and Dragon Ball Z has never looked better.

Sound - 4/10

The sound...well...the sound is okay, but it's another example of how everything in this game is recycled. There is very little dialogue that feels unique to any given cutscene. Several phrases are reused constantly. (Take this! Darn it!) I've never seen a phrase abused as much as “Darn it!” in Burst Limit. Just about every other cutscene, and nearly every fight makes use of the phrase. Nearly every character uses the phrase in the story mode, several times. Strangely enough, there actually was one instance where Trunks says “damn it,” so I'm left wondering why “darn it” was used in excess. Things wouldn't have been any better if “damn it” had been used constantly, but it appears to me that it was more of someone recycling the dialogue rather than trying to keep it clean.

The music suits the game just fine, but it's nothing memorable. Most of the voices are good too, but different than what people are used to in the anime. For some odd reason, Cell always has his “Perfect Cell” voice, no matter what stage of his transformation he is in. More cut corners? Doesn't surprise me.

Replayability - 3/10

This is the worst part. People have gotten used to the large roster in other Dragon Ball Z games. With Burst Limit, we are given less than thirty characters to choose from. Not many of them feel much different from the others. We are also given only a few arenas to fight in. There is no excuse for having only FIVE arenas to fight in. The option to swap colors is not enough to satisfy. There aren't any good unlockables to keep anyone playing after they tough out the barrage of random fights in the story mode.

There IS online play, but this isn't an option for everyone. I played online for some time, and I've only found one match that wasn't lagging every now and then. People will occasionally disconnect. In a one on one game like this, it's better to play against someone that's in the same room as you, but still, it's a nice addition. I'm glad it was included, because I know that there are people out there that appreciate it and make use of it.

Final Recommendation - 5/10

Don't buy this game without renting it first. It just doesn't have enough content to keep you playing and make it worth the price tag. If you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z, the game is definitely worth a rental, just don't get your hopes too high. Hopefully we'll get an improved sequel sometime soon.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 06/24/08

Game Release: Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit (US, 06/10/08)


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