PS2 REVIEW: DRAGON BALL Z: BUDOKAI 2

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 2 isn't a bad game in and of itself but as a sequel it absolutely sucks. This game isn't worth the full price of admission. Rent it if you must, especially if you have the first one. If you don't have either, I still have to recommend the first one, not only for the single-player story mode but for the multi-player mode as well.

Budokai 2 may look better and even play better than the original in some respects but these little tweaks don't measure up to what I would consider a full-fledged sequel. I know there is a blind loyalty to the series and you can't tell these kids anything. If you're going to get this game anyway, don't even bother reading the rest of this review because you're not going to like it. I know you're going to call me all kinds of names but if you take a moment to read what I have to say you'll see that I'm actually on your side.

I want nothing better than to enjoy the games I review so it really does piss me off when I have to play a real stinker. I really enjoyed the first Budokai game for the PS2. It's a fun little fighter with a decent story, interesting characters and a non-complicated control system. A training mode is included in this version and it will really give you a workout of all the finer points of fighting. Some new features have been added such as the ability to combine fighters for a short duration to significantly increase your abilities. A Burst mode is another addition whereby the fighting action goes berserk between the characters causing you to button mash for all your worth.It only occurs when both characters' moves synch up. In my opinion, these additions don't overshadow the gameplay of the original.

Standard moves include punching, kicking and energy attacks. There's a good deal of finesse to the controls which keeps it from being a total button masher. When the action picks up things really do feel intense.

While the game looks every bit as good as the cartoon that it's based on, and even better with the cell shading and realistic shadows, there is no story mode. Dragon World is a mode that replicates a board game where you chase after characters around the map, beat them up and look for Dragon Balls. While I realize this is essentially a stripped down version of the actual gameplay the absence of a storyline makes the game appear generic. I can almost see the developers point of just getting on with the action and foregoing the story but they have to keep in mind that regardless of how weak and predictable the stories are in the cartoon series, it's what keeps kids tuning in and spending gazillions on merchandising. Budokai 2 glosses over the characters. If you didn't know much about them prior to playing this game, you won't know much about them when you complete it. Knowing the characters is absolutely essential to understanding the gameplay and maybe Atari just took it for granted that the kids that play this game would have that knowledge.

There's no getting around the Dragon World mode as you have to play it to unlock new levels and characters. Bummer.

If you're familiar with the first game you'll notice that this sequel borrows heavily from it. Sound bites, sound effects, music, characters and even animations are reused, though they are mixed in with some new features so that the blind devotees would be none the wiser. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad game at all, it's just that a better version of it existed before this one was even conceived. Save your money kids.

System: PS2
Dev: Atari
Pub: Atari
Released: Dec 2003
Players: 2
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
4
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
2
VALUE
3.5