DragonBall Z: Battle of Z Review

DragonBall Z: Battle of Z is a 2014 action role-playing video game developed by Artdink and published by Bandai Namco Games. Based on the manga and anime DragonBall the game is released for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox 360.


Positives:

  • Great soundtrack
  • Great graphics
  • Challenging gameplay
  • Compelling online multiplayer

Negatives:

  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Lackluster AI
  • Clumsy camera
  • Lacks content

Campaign:  The single player campaign is nothing more than 60 missions involving battles from the series as well as special scenarios.  As a DBZ game the campaign is pretty lackluster (though DBZ games aren’t really known for their compelling stories).  It does feature the same rehashed story that we’ve seen in previous installments. (3 out of 5)

Gameplay: Battle of Z is a fighting game that allows up to eight player battles with two teams of four players in cooperative gameplay. Teams can perform team attack as well as revive and heal one another sharing a special energy meter called GENKI Gauge.  The game does feature a roster of more than 70 characters.  Instead of transformations grouped together into one character, they are separated into individual characters.  There are four different battle types for playable characters: Melee Type (skilled at close combat), Ki Blast Type (skilled at long range battle), Support Type (heal and support abilities), and Interfere Type (interfere with the enemy’s movements).  Players can even modify characters by collecting and equipping ability/or customization cards.

The controls are okay but could be a little more diverse especially with the variety of characters whose moves are fixed.  They are overly simple and players will get tired of pressing the only effective button Y repeatedly.  Developers should’ve taken a page out of DragonBall Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 or from the Ultimate Ninja Storm games where attacks can vary depending on the direction of the joystick. Dashing is painfully slow at times and the lack of a counter will reduce players to being endlessly pummeled (though I can’t complain because I’ve done it plenty of times to the NPCs).  The gameplay is pretty repetitive especially when it comes to the missions which are pretty much only fight scenarios. (3 out of 5)

Graphics: The graphics are pretty good.  It isn’t bad but holds true to the DBZ animation style.  Thumbs up to the level designs which look really good and maintain a lot of detail. Also, another aspect of the game that I’ve always enjoyed in since DragonBall Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and that’s the damage buildup during the course of the battle. Characters do get injured and it keeps the gameplay immersive.

The lack of actual cinematics does suck and for the game to be as diverse as it is there should’ve been something standout.  Such as when players have to fight Frieza, Buu, Vegeta, and Cell.  It would’ve been nice to see the characters interact in some kind of way.  The camera can be a pain at times.  Sometimes players can be in the middle of a fight and all of a sudden be looking in the opposite direction.  Or when things get chaotic the camera isn’t able to keep up with the fight.  (3 out of 5)

Score: The score is pretty decent.  The intro featuring “Cha La Head Cha La” song is really good.  The voice performances are good though there are some characters whose casting should’ve been better (Frieza, Cooler, and Gohan to name a few).  The soundtrack is good though it would’ve been awesome to feature some of the original music from the Funimation and Ocean Dubbed versions of the show. (3 out of 5)

Replay ValueThere are a ton of characters to unlock but this is where the gameplay can feel a bit repetitive. Players will replay the same missions over and over again and although it is alleviated by none character specific missions, they are literally the same. Even when it comes to the unlockable cards that augment character stats or give them certain abilities, it becomes tedious grinding to get cards, DP, and PP. There is also a serious lack of content when it comes to the gameplay such as unlockables, change of difficulty, and hidden content.  Even the lack of varying game modes works against it.

There is only two game modes (next to the single player) and they are essentially the same. There is the co-op and team battle mode. The multiplayer can be incredibly fun especially with the battle royal based gameplay but for players who aren’t as online savvy the game will feel repetitive. Developers depend on players want for online competition to keep the game interesting.  There are no mini games, or other game modes for players to invest their time in.  Battle of Z would’ve easily benefited from having a theater mode.  Hell, it would’ve been better to actually have a versus mode where players can choose the teams, levels, and conditions to give players even more freedom.  (2 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, DragonBall Z: Battle of Z is decent but wasted potential.  The game was a great idea but some of the execution is off.  A lot of the mechanics are clunky and need refinement as well as variation in attacks and better AI.  But the game is enjoyable and quite challenging, great graphics, good soundtrack, and great online multiplayer.  DragonBall Z: Battle of Z gets 3 out of 5.

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