PS2 REVIEW: DRAGON BALL Z SAGAS

In an attempt to take the Dragon Ball series to new heights, depths and widths, somebody screwed something up while mucking around with the formula.

This is by far the worst version of Dragon Ball Z ever. While I appreciate any company willing to take risks with its cash cow, somebody, or a lot of bodies, really dropped the ball on this one. Sagas is the first game to address the restrictive fighting arenas which up until now served as nothing more than a large cage. While you could move freely about the area, even into the air, you were restricted by just how far you could go in these non-interactive environments.

Sagas has changed all of that. Environments are destructive and you can virtually go anywhere that you see, unfortunately that sounds better than it works in actual practice thanks to the terrible auto camera which focuses on just about everything except where you need to be looking. With no manual adjustment the camera can't seem to get used to the reality of an explorable environment. It gets caught behind boulders and trees making it virtually impossible to see your enemies in the distance. The developers may have been able to free the characters but the camera can't seem to cope with the changes.

It would be easy to suggest that the developers just leave the game the way it was but the gameplay is getting really old. With no new developments in the fighting department, it seems the series has actually taken a few steps back. The controls aren't very tight and the main playable characters aren't able to react as fast as the AI especially when it comes to blocking or just avoiding some hits. Your character can gain more speed and other skills as you defeat more foes but you never seem to react as fast as the AI.

It's not as though the AI is a force to be reckoned with. Some of the boss fights are good but mostly the AI will just smother you in sheer numbers. They aren't particularly intelligent as they rush you head on. As long as they come at you one at a time you can pummel then into a heap but often there will be enemies taking pot shots at you from the distance which you can't always block or avoid. Once again the camera comes to the aid of the enemy as it only locks-on to the closest enemy and not the one that may actually pose the most serious threat - like the one shooting missiles at you from the hills. You will also find that when an enemy gets to laying a few combos on you it's almost impossible to block or counter. As you will find, the best fighting technique is to continue punching and kicking your opponent while never finishing a combo since that will give him a short recovery period.

There are five playable characters including Goko, Goham and Piccolo. Aside from beating everyone up there are some objectives to each stage which range from protecting a certain character to collecting items. The storyline is pieced together from different edits of the cartoon series like a patchwork quilt. It looks cheap and of course the story is so typically lame that it was hardly worth the effort - although it's obvious it wasn't much of an effort.

At least they got the character right. They look as good as their cartoon counterparts and animate smoothly. The environments aren't nearly as inviting to explore as you might suspect. With a few boulders, trees and mountains in the distance most of the environments are barren, especially the ground which displays low-res textures that amount to one or two colors with some shading and a few dark spots; something a baby could make by accident while fooling around with Paint Shop Pro.

The story is lame, the gameplay is repetitive and the entire control system is compromised in one way or another. Let the developers fix their mistakes before you throw any money in their direction. Don't even rent this one.

Click For Media
System: PS2
Dev: Avalanche
Pub: Atari
Released: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
1.5
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
2.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
1.5