Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit (DBZ: BL) is the latest in a long line of fighting games to be spawned from the famous TV show. Previous entries in the series have generally been solid fighting games, although they have never been able to compete with the big names such as Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Atari is hoping that this will all change with the debut of the first Dragon Ball game on the Xbox 360. So how does it stack up?
To jump straight into the action, DBZ: BL is fast. Really fast. This isn’t one of those slow paced fighting games where the fighters dance around each other and rarely connect with moves. In DBZ: BL, most fights are over within 90 seconds, which is really saying something considering the fact that the fighters have multiple health bars. However, just because it is fast, don’t think that this is a button-masher. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Whilst button mashing will get you through a couple of the easy fights, in order to excel at this game you need to be able to plan your moves and execute them with swift authority. Thankfully this is incredibly do-able, thanks to a great control system.
The controls are really easy to get used to, with the four face buttons controlling blocking, projectile attacks, and your two standard attacks. Combining these attacks with triggers and shoulder buttons unleashes all manner of crazy moves, which should be easily recognisable to fans of the TV show. Also, when your characters ‘Ki’ meter gets filled up, you get access to all kinds of powerful moves such as unleashing your devastating ultimate move, or even using your ‘Ki’ to unleash your ‘Aura Spark’, which is one of the new abilities introduced to the game. I don’t want to go into too much detail about all of the various moves, but rest assured that there are plenty of them to pull off.
As great as the control system may be, there are a lot of different moves to remember in the game, and so I am quite thankful that there is a training mode included in the game. This training mode consists of each move being explained by a mentor, then you get shown the buttons required to pull off the move, and then it’s just up to you to pull off said move, at which point you move on to the next training session. Whilst I do like having the training option there, the way in which it was laid out annoyed me somewhat. Basically, there are 3 different levels of training, with each level having multiple training sessions. The problem that I have is that you load up one training session, do the couple of button presses needed to complete it, and then it takes you back to the main menu, and you have to load up the next training session. This can get very frustrating, particularly as certain training session only require one or two button presses. There is thankfully a practice mode where you can go to check up on moves and hone your skills, so you don’t really ever need to go back to the training mode after your first time.
The game modes are a pretty standard affair for a fighting game. There is a versus mode which allows you to complete against the computer, a friend on the same console, or you can take the fight online. There is also a challenge mode which consists of almost ‘filler’ gameplay, such as survival mode, which just isn’t all that fun. Rounding out the gamplay modes is the Z Chronicles, which is the main story mode of the game.
The Z Chronicles take place across 3 different Dragon Ball Z sagas, and fans of the TV show will no doubt recognise all the famous fights within the story. Unfortunately, people who have never seen the Dragon Ball Z TV show will probably have no idea what is going on. However, even if you don’t know what’s happening, the story mode is still a blast to play as it pits you in various different fights with a multitude of characters, as both the good and bad sides. Completing the various battles will unlock new characters and arenas to fight in, as well as new ‘Drama Pieces’ for use in versus matches.
‘Drama Pieces’ are basically assists that can help you out during a fight. Before you enter any versus match you will choose a partner, and three different ‘Drama Pieces’ which will help you out in battle. These range from defence and attack boosts, to healing abilities. These ‘Drama Pieces’ then get activated at certain points in the battle. For example, if you are low on health, you may have your partner jump out and throw you a Senzu Bean, which gives you some health back. All of these ‘Drama Pieces’ play out in a great little cutscene, and there is absolutely no delay in jumping from the action to the cutscene, and back again, which is really nice to see.
The versus matches are pretty self explanatory to anyone who has ever played a fighting game. Basically you just select your fighter (and their ultimate move), select their ‘Drama Pieces’ as detailed above, and jump into battle. All of the fights are sadly 1v1, which is a bit disappointing. Seeing as the Dragon Ball series has been a 1v1 fighter for so long, it would have been nice to see some tag matches in there. On the plus side, the online play works flawlessly, and I didn’t encounter a single bit of lag when playing, which is incredibly important when playing a game as fast paced as this.
The graphics in the game are top notch. It is one of the best looking anime games that I have ever seen, with exquisite detail on the character models. Everything looks just the way it should, and it is the best looking Dragon Ball game by a clear mile. The numerous animations for all of the moves simply look incredible, all while keeping a solid frame rate. This truly is a game that needs to be seen, because it is the benchmark for all other anime games to come. The only thing that is left slightly lacking graphically are the environments, which look somewhat bland in comparison to the character models.
Keeping with the positives, the audio in the game is just as good, with all the voices and sound effects you would expect from the Dragon Ball universe. The music is spot on, with a fast and frantic feel which suits the game perfectly. Overall, it is quite simply a great sounding game.
If you are looking for a great fighting game, stop looking–you’ve just found it. Whether you are a fan of the TV show, or have never even heard of it, DBZ: BL is quite simply brilliant. Whilst fans of the previous games may be unhappy that there are only 21 characters in the game compared to around 200 in the previous Dragon Ball Z game (Dragon Ball Z: Budokia Tenkaichi 3 for the Wii), they should be incredibly happy with just how well the whole package comes together, and how faithful it is to the TV show. Even if you are generally not a fan of fighting games I strongly recommend that you give this game a try. Fans of Dragon Ball Z, why are you still reading? Go buy this game now!