It has been a long time since there was a new Dragonball z game released. So when I heard about Battle of Z I jumped for joy, I am a huge Dragon Ball fan with an extensive collection of games, DVDs and merchandise. So I know a lot about the Dragon Ball universe.
In previous Dragon Ball Z games the layout was simple, each game featured a few different modes which included a vs mode and the games main story mode, aka the world martial arts tournament. However this is the very first Dragonball game that doesn’t feature local multiplayer battles. This means if you want to play any multiplayer you will have to do so online. Primarily you can only play the story mode offline but if you want to get the most out of the story mode you will require an Internet connection to access all the features such as your weekly premium card list, which I will explain more about later.
Onto the games story mode, you start off with a small selection of fighters and as usual Goku is one of the first playable characters. The story has been broken down into stages with each stage relating to a separate saga in the Dragon Ball Z Anime series. There are also different levels within the story which feature alternative realities as well levels where you fight as the bad guys. Each level features up to four playable character and when you start each mission you can choose any character regardless if they have been killed off in the story line which I found a little frustrating as previous Dragon Ball games (excluding Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2) have followed the story line in the anime series relatively closely. This game however has on a very rare occasion followed the Anime series and even then it isn’t completely right. An example is during the Saiyan saga in the Dragon Ball Z Anime, Nappa fights alone and single headedly kills Tien, Chiaotzu, Yamcha and Piccolo before Goku arrives, however in the game, not only does Vegeta pop out of nowhere and fight with Nappa but you can use other fighters such as Goku. I will admit I can see the developers wanted to give the player a choice for the four characters, but the Dragon Ball fan in me would just like them to stay true to the manga and anime series.
Then there’s the fighting mechanics, normally you would have either a tutorial section in the menu or there will be extensive training in the first couple of levels of the story mode. This isn’t the case with Battle Of Z as you are thrown straight into the game with very minimal direction. After completing your first battle with next to no tutorial you then stumble about some more levels before Dragon Ball Z’s own Master Roshi, Korin and Bulma show you some more advanced moves during the games loading screens. These hints are slightly more helpful but these characters tend to also repeat useless information and battle tips about enemies you haven’t even yet encountered. After learning the basics however the game is pretty simple to play. you have buttons to fly up and down, lock on, attack, block and use special moves. You can also combine buttons to do other moves and attacks so it really is very simple and that’s good for first time players. When you fight multiple characters at the same time however I had some serious issue with the lock on system. While fighting I would lock on to someone and rush over to attack, but as I’m flying all of a sudden I’m locked onto a different enemy I haven’t even touched which I found really annoying.
That’s not the only problem I have with the battle system, my next issue is that your enemies can fire their attacks at will but your attacks are reliant on an energy bar which depletes over time. Not only that but your super attack is only possible to use after a certain point. What that point is still a mystery to me and I’ve been playing the game for a while now, I attack constantly and it happens quickly but I do the same and it takes a really long time. Sometimes the super move isn’t available until I have almost defeated all of the enemies but it’s still very annoying, as the enemies can use any attack anytime and that’s unfair and as the previous games felt like more of a level playing feild. You have a limited amount of times you can be knocked down and once you have reached you limit the level is classed as mission failed. What happens though is your team recovers one another but when I fall defeated they rarely come to recover me, I’ve even had them standing next to me and still do nothing which is really annoying when you’re trying to conserve the retries for later on. Then you have one of my biggest issues which is blocking and dodging, in the previous Dragonball games especially the most recent ones you could teleport during a melee attack to dodge. When your enemy executed a rush attack you could dodge it if you timed right. Then there was my favourite thing which was being able to deflect ki attacks and in a couple of Dragonball games you were even able to dodge special and ultimate attacks or battle a super attack with one of your own. You cannot do any of that in this game, the most I’ve seen is something called step but this allows you to teleport after moving a short distance. This can be used to dodge special and ultimate attacks but does nothing during a melee attack. Not only that but there have been times I’ve been hit and beaten without being able to block anything, I’ve tried everything but I can’t block or attack I just get my ass kicked.
Then you have customisation that’s utilised by adding cards you have collected during story missions, there are also some cards you can buy using points you have earned and these are the premium cards. These increase everything from health and melee attacks to ki level and special attack power, there are also cards that have special traits that can boost experience or help you by lowering usage of ki in attacks and other effects. Now there is something that’s quite unique about the customisation and with the characters attacks. Only a select few characters have ultimate attacks which is unlike previous Dragonball games where everyone had an ultimate attack, however after unlocking this attack you can only use it if you have a special card and attached it to the specific character. What this means is that you must buy them as soon as you can to keep using the ultimate attack, but so far I’ve only seen Normal Goku with one which is obviously The Spirit Bomb. I know there will be more it’s just that I’m used to having fun looking at all the different ultimate attacks, now I won’t be able too as there’s only a handful and there seems to be special conditions for each of them.
Now we come to the Co-Op mode and Battle mode, both which are online and do not allow local multiplayer. In both modes you need to have four fighters, on Co-Op you have to have your team filled up until your able to play and when you do finally get to the level, most of the time your team mates are just beating everything up and I lost enjoyment as I didn’t really do much to complete the level. I didn’t even defeat a single opponent as I started fighting but the other players finished them off, this was highly annoying as the point of Co-Op is to work together not stand around and let others fight. With battle mode again you need to have eight people to fight but what this does is breaks you into two teams, you fight until you run out of respawns which in my case wasn’t that long. Since I said you can’t dodge while being attacked or deflect attacks either I got my ass handed to me by the more powerful characters against me. I would be hit by a single attack or combo and die, which ruined the feeling I got from fighting before as again this isn’t a level playing field. It gives a huge advantage to the people who have received the more powerful fighters and customisation cards. Even without that the fact you can only fight online is really disappointing, I use to really enjoy battling people using local multiplayer and watching their face as I beat them up or as they beat me. It’s for me taken all the enjoyment out of fighting against people, I’ve spent ages fighting against my friends before but now that won’t be the case with this game.
When it comes to the Background music and SFX they are pretty much the same as the previous games, you still have the same feel of the Dragonball world. You get the same music from the games before so you can have the same feel when you’re fighting so that’s made a difference, however the voices are almost the same as the series and previous games, all but one. The voice for android 18 isn’t the same and to be honest doesn’t even sound close to what I remember but it is similar to the voice used in Dragonball Kai. A series that I have an issue with but won’t go into here, the voices as a whole are good and that for me is good to hear.
+ Easy to play
+ Recognisable Music
+ Improved Customisation compared to other Dragon Ball Z Games
- No blocking or dodging
– Problems with the lock on
– Online modes don’t feel fair
As a whole the game is reasonably enjoyable but that’s only when you’re able to fight, when you’re not able to block or dodge during an entire fight it does become extremely annoying. Not only that but you have to play the game for a very long time before your able to seriously master the fighting in this, in all the Dragonball games I have played before the tutorial section always helped to master the controls and all of the advanced moves but with that removed from the game it all becomes boring as you can only do the same moves. With that add the fact that you can only fight online and Co-Op online too, it takes away the previous games feel of playing with the friend next to you. I know that everything has become about online gaming, with the most popular games now using this it’s what games are evolving towards but I feel this takes away what you previously had when you could invite friends over to fight. Now it’s all distant and feels like they have taken away one of the best parts of the game, especially with tournament mode missing you can only play three modes and to me personally that again has taken something out of this game. I would say that this is better than a couple of the previous Dragonball games but that’s as far as I would go, I feel this game was a step backwards instead of one forward.
Random Man 5000