Super Saiyan Success!
It may be hard to believe, but the Dragon Ball Z franchise has been with us for almost twenty years. In that time, the series has experienced many ups and downs, especially in the world of gaming. It was during the last generation of consoles on the PlayStation 2 that Dragon Ball Z, as a game franchise, really made itself a household name.
The three iterations of the Budokai series, as well as the three Budokai Tenkaichi titles, solidified Dragon Ball Z as a first rate franchise in the fighting genre. However, even though the Dragon Ball Z series was wildly successful on the PlayStation 2, many believed it would end there. The anime had ended more than a decade prior, and there just didn’t seem to be enough content to justify further releases. I too, was quite skeptical at first, but Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit seems like a title made to exceed expectations.
The first thing you’ll notice about Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is its incredible visuals. While the graphics are still firmly rooted in the series’ tried and true, cel-shaded anime style, the 3-D and 2-D integration is incredibly smooth, and the animations are nothing short of phenomenal. Characters are also incredibly detailed this time around, and all the character face-lifts are very noticeable. One character which had a particularly impressive upgrade was Frieza. While Frieza is generally represented by solid purple and white colors with no real detail, you will notice that now he has a highly reflective metallic sheen on his purple shoulder pads and head piece, while his face as well as the majority of his body retains an opaque white color. Facial expressions are also very detailed, and many of the game’s cinematic scenes feature close-up shots that really highlight this. If you are a longtime fan of the series, I can promise you that, even though you’ve played umpteen DBZ titles, you’ve never seen the DBZ crew look this good.
Aside from the enhanced level of detail, the graphics also benefit from an extremely sharp 2-D/3-D integration system. Instead of fully 3-D characters providing sharp contrast against 2-D backgrounds, characters blend in more subtly with their backgrounds. Lines are more delicate, and although the cel-shading is still quite apparent, it is implemented in a less dramatic way than in Budokai Tenkaichi 2 and 3. This title is very close to achieving a look that is on-par with the anime that inspired it, which is no small feat.
Enough about graphics; let’s talk about gameplay. The battle system features many of the same old mechanics, allowing DBZ veterans to jump right in. There are several basic attacks as well as commands for grappling, power-ups, and character transformations. The ki system is also still in place, but now there is a special finishing move system that allows you to completely obliterate your opponent. Although these attacks are relatively easy for a novice to pick up, there are several more intricate special attacks even the most practiced button-masher may find challenging.
As far as the story is concerned, there really isn’t much new here. Goku still fights Radditz, Vegeta, Frieza, and Cell. However, the game attempts to breathe new life into the material by adding new perspectives on classic battles. For example, you will be able to play both sides of the epic Goku and Frieza fight. It’s pretty interesting, but the story really is an afterthought in this title.
In addition to the story mode, there is also the obligatory two-player mode, as well as training and tutorial modes. Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit also includes online modes which allow you to play in customized matches, which can be ranked or unranked. The online modes work pretty well with only an occasional lag or two during a typical bout. It definitely isn’t perfect, but it works well enough.
Sound in Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is quite good. The background and title music is enjoyable and features some rocking electric guitar as well as some J-Pop vocals. Both the Japanese and English voice tracks are extremely well done and feature original voice actors. The only qualm I have with the sound scheme is the sound effect used when selecting your Z fighter; it is unusually loud and makes a peculiar pounding noise. Besides this one small problem, the sound is spot-on.
One very interesting new feature in Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is the inclusion of drama sequences during battle. Depending on your performance, different mini-cinematic scenes will be displayed. This is a pretty cool feature during the story mode, and unlocking all these dramatic sequences adds a great amount of replay value. However, these scenes also are triggered during 2-player modes and can get quite annoying, especially when you’re playing an online opponent and the scene cuts in right as you were about to execute a finishing move. However, you are able to decide which (if any) dramatic scenes you want your character to be able to perform. But, if your opponent enables theirs, then you will still have to sit through it, and there is no way to skip them.
Love it or hate it, it seems like the Dragon Ball Z franchise is here to stay. Although many (including myself) doubted the ability of the franchise to make the jump to the current console generation successfully, Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit proves this is one series with some serious staying power. From the amazing graphics to the incredibly deep combat system, everything about Burst Limit feels new, and I can’t wait to see where this franchise is headed next. Sure, the story may be tired, but when was the last time you really played an arcade-style brawler for the story? Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is a must-own for DBZ fans, and if you’re a fan of button-mash fighters, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The best graphics of any currently available, anime-inspired title. Cel-shading is expertly done, and characters blend in surprisingly well with 2-D backgrounds. 4.1 Control
The battle system is simple enough for newcomers to get the basics, but provides enough depth for hardcore DBZ veterans. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background and title music are quite enjoyable. The voice acting is first-rate, both in English and Japanese. 3.7 Play Value
The story mode is quite short, but there’s enough bonus content for a few revisits (but not too many). It is the arcade-style two-player modes, both online and off, that will keep you coming back to this fighter. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.