Atari brings Dragonball Z to the 360 for the first time. The cartoon itself has a Star Wars like cult following so the game has a lot to live up to in order to meet expectations of many. Graphically, the game lives up to that hype. The artists have captured the beauty of the cartoon and Japanese anime almost to perfection. Colors and character representations are right on and at times youll feel like you are actually playing the cartoon. The cell shading in this game is simply amazing at times, and the typical graphical displays you come accustomed to in the television show are definitely mimicked well in this game. There are plenty of characters in the to satisfy the most diehard Dragonball Z fan, and each one is rendered in some great detail.
Dragonball Z is another fighting game that honestly has the feel of Street Fighter games from the past. Youll have special moves and combos that you can create as well as special power up attacks. All in all, its your typical fighter game underneath with a lot of beautiful graphics and cutscenes laid out over top. Some differences in the fighting aspects of the game would be the inclusion of something called drama pieces. These pieces are used in the middle of the fighting to help your character obtain an edge. When activated, a friend that you choose at the beginning of the match will come to your aid. Sometimes this aid is in the form of defense, or other times it can be in the form of a special attack.
The game itself can be a button masher for some folks and honestly they could be quite successful with that technique as well. There are some blocking and defense techniques that seems to work well, and special attacks can be deflected or countered, as can any move really. SBut for the masters of the game, they will probably be able to takeout button mashers fairly easy. The controls are fairly simple though for anyone to pick up and be successful. You'll find the opponents not very aggressive on default difficulty, but with some tweaks and increases in difficulty they can get almost frustrating. So with that being said, the AI seems fairly balanced and the fighting system does not have a huge learning curve for most folks.
As with any fighting game youll have a small array of special attacks to use. Youll gather an aura which is known as Ki. This Ki builds up automatically as you r match progresses and youll be able to release the Ki in small amounts, known as Aura Actions or one large amount known as an Aura Spark. Aura Actions include a Heavy Smash, Mega Crush, Pursuit Attacks, and EX Super Attacks. Your gauge only needs to have one bar full in order to use the Aura Actions, but youll need a full gauge in order to launch an Aura Spark. Aura Actions include a Heavy Smash, Mega Crush, Pursuit Attacks, and EX Super Attacks. The Aura Spark includes a Vanishing Move, Vanishing Attack, and Ultimate Attack.. All of which are very powerful but require the full Ki Gauge to initiate.
The game offers a variety of game modes including Z Chronicles, Versus, Trial and a Training mode. There is also a tutorial mode for you get down the basics when first playing the game. But overall the game is fairly simple and it uses mostly button combinations to perform attacks and defenses. The Z Chronicles is your Career mode of sorts. Youll get to take part in actual past scenarios from the cartoon. As you progress through the game mode youll unlock even more scenarios to take part. You will also unlock a few characters for use as well. Z Chronicles is good for one play through but honestly thats about where the fun ends for the casual gamer. For Z fans, it probably lives a bit longer.
Versus mode gives you quite a few modes of play. You can battle against the CPU, or take on another real life player locally. You can also watch the CPU vs the CPU. Oh joy. Where most folks interest lies is in the online multiplayer. There really isnt anything that stands out about the multiplayer honestly. Youll fight against live opponents just as you do against the computer. There are Leaderboards of course. But that is about the extent of it.
The trial mode gives you a few different options to play the game. First there is the survival mode which pits you against opponents as long as your health lasts. Your health regenerates somewhat after each round, and opponents get tougher as you progress as well. Once you have played the Survival mode youll unlock Time Attack mode. Time Attack is basically what it says. Youll face a series of opponents and your goal is to beat them as quickly as possible. After you have played Time attack youll unlock the Battle Point Mode. You once again face off against a series of opponents, but this time your primary goal is to accumulate as many points as possible.
As I stated earlier there is a training mode as well that allows you to set matches up to your specific wishes. Youll be able to adjust character fighting styles, difficulty levels, turn moves on and off among many other things. This mode can definitely help you increase your skills against those button mashers online.
Overall, the game does not having a long lasting appeal to the casual gamer. Its fun in the beginning but it quickly gets repetitive with the drama scenes, dialogue and basic fighting. Youll find yourself repeating the same maneuvers over and over while fighting. There is a large number of characters to use, but in the end even that doesnt increase the need to play this game on a regular basis. The sounds are taken right from the cartoon itself, and the graphics and backgrounds are beautifully rendered, but again its not enough to make you want to keep putting this game in. For fans of the show, the enjoyment may last a lot longer. But in the end, I have to say that this one is only good for a rental at best for most folks. There isnt enough unlockables to keep you coming back for more.
Suggestions: Cooperative play could have been huge in this game, and it would have worked very well for both online and a co-op career mode. A unqiue storyline in the single player would have been great, especially if it would have given fans of the show something new to gossip about.