When it comes to anime, there is one that stands out above them all, even people who have no idea what Japanese animation is will have at one point seen or heard of this show, I refer to of course; Dragonball Z. One of the most popular series in the world, the high flying rapid paced battles have been the dreams of many a man child for years.
This time around the series has delivered into our laps; Dragonball Z : The Battle of Z, a third person all-you-can-eat brawler with a heavy emphasis on online play. This is the first game released since the godawful Kinect game Dragonball Z Kinect released in 2012, it makes an effort to change things up from its previous incarnations which were quite simply one on one fights where everyone picked the strongest characters and beat each other into submission.
The game is played more often than not with two teams of up to 4 fighters each, duking it out in highly destructible environments to see who comes out on top. The story of game follows that of the original series as much as is applicable. This is done through a series of missions that involve not only the original story but several offshoot What-if storylines where things are tweaked for best results, giving challenges in speed and survival.
The game is played in the third person perspective so that you can take in all of the action as it happens. Controls are simplified for easy use, with rudimentary combos combined with damaging blasts from energy from your hands. There is not too much emphasis placed on stringing together long combos, more on teamwork with your other members to most effectively smack the enemy around the expansive field and through the scenery. More on this in a moment....
The game mixes up its character types, with some more suited for physical attacks, others for energy takes and others for support, allowing your team to be as balanced as possible, or you know, the biggest ass-kickers. There are several game modes available from money grabs to deathmatches, and all of it feels smooth and intuitive.
What needs to be addressed in this fighting game is obviously the fighting. In all honesty sometimes things can seem a bit broken in regards to your team battles. If one side is too far ahead it pretty much becomes a complete lynching of other characters. Performing a chain attack between team members that completely overwhelms your opponent and leaves them unable to move or fight back is quite easy. Going into the online mode from the beginning is also not advised, as there is little in terms of balance, and you will be going up against some insanely powerful customised characters within your first match which may turn you off to the experience. One important thing to note however is that multiplayer is online only. The developers state that this is to give players a full on view of the action, however we strongly believe it was left out to compensate for the weak and ineffectual hand to hand combat system.
Aside from that, the game looks and feels great, bringing the original voice cast from the show adds an element of authenticity for your fanboys while still giving a professional performance for newcomers that can be appreciated on its own merit. The graphics stick to the now well worn and yet reliable cel shaded formula, but since this is originally based off a comic book and cartoon, it works well in this instance.
In conclusion we genuinely think this game is a cut above the other Dragonball Z games. It offers a unique and varied take on online multiplayer fighting and when it can be immensely enjoyable when you and a group of friends are in a big fight. The only thing that stops us from making it a must buy is the bare bones fighting system and the lack of local multiplayer. We would call this a rental at the most, you will be able to pick it up preowned for cheap before long. If you are a fan, give it a try, if not, there are plenty of other games worth your time and money than trying to jump into a fandom you don’t know.