|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games|
|Release: January 28, 2014|
|Players: 1 (2-8 Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Joshua Bruce
For years I have waited for a Dragon Ball Z game that could capture the essence of the series. A game that could bottle the sheer power, grit and fighting that spans several planets, dimensions, and times; a worthy game for a great anime series beloved the world over. Sadly, it looks like I’m going to have to keep waiting, because Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is not that game.
Not that I expected it to be, as I have a lot of experience getting let down by DBZ games. The only ones to ever emerge that were worth more than the disc they were printed on were the Budokai games and maybe a couple of the older GameBoy Advance titles (like the Legacy of Goku series) that functioned kind of like a top-down RPG’s. I mean, is this not clear to everyone in the gaming industry? Namco Bandai has an amazingly popular franchise with Dragon Ball Z, full of rich characters and storylines that could go on for an entire game series if done properly. But, for whatever reason, nobody has been able to nail the formula for the definitive DBZ game.
Battle of Z is no exception to the rule either. It is bland, boring and relatively poorly executed.
Prior to playing the game, I had a semi-optimistic outlook on it. I had heard that this game actually included story, had tons of characters, open-area fighting, and used cards like those from the CCG (Collectible Card Game.) Sounds pretty good right? Well, let’s start with story.
The story of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is only a story in the academic sense. There are things that happen, people speak words, ya’know that sort of thing. But it’s about as interesting as staring at the sun for long periods of time, and almost as painful. Yes, Battle of Z does follow the story of the series, but following the story in this game is little more than a string of fights and boss battles that largely play out the exact same way every time. If variety is the spice of life, then Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z died in production.
The saddest part about this game is that it could have been good. If only it were more than selecting a few characters to go into pre-determined missions, on maps that look almost identical, for hours on end. Give us an open-world Dragon Ball Z experience please! Let me fly around as Goku trying to find all seven Dragon Balls; now that would be a game! But I digress.
There are several game mechanics that could have lent a helping hand to the waning game, if only they were utilized properly. Most notably the team focus that’s woven into the game. On each outing, you will be able to select other Z fighters to aid in your battles. You can select up to 4 characters to face any mission, and while the extra firepower is welcome in some cases, in most it is wholly unnecessary. Most times, your cohorts will basically act as meat-shields or medics, healing you and taking damage so you don’t have to. Sometimes they will send some energy your way so you can use better attacks, but never when you want them to and certainly not when you need it. Instead you will be cursed to use the same basic ranged Ki attacks until you recharge your energy meter enough to do some more damage. You can change the attack posture of your fellow fighters from aggressive to defensive and such, but I saw little difference in how they operated, so I never really found it necessary.