Behind the shadows of summer blockbusters such as Ninja Gaiden 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4, is a game which needs no introduction, but instead needs some clarification. Dragon Ball Z games have become an annual affair for Namco Bandai and Atari, and I don’t blame folks for not knowing which installment is worth their time. This year’s installment is brought to us by DBZ: Budokai 3’s developer, Dimps. It’s been awhile since Dimps made a Dragon Ball game, so let’s see if they’ve managed to make Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit worth your while.
As a Dragon Ball fan, I’m always seeking for authenticity and for a game based on a popular anime, it’s the least I could ask for. Burst Limit starts off well by sporting Japanese voiceovers. In fact, Atari and gang even opted to keep the Japanese intro which I appreciated. Kamehameha’s, the whir of rapid movements and the impact of fists being driven into the guts of buffed up warriors are undeniably Dragon Ball Z. As for the musical numbers? They do their jobs; they aren’t disruptive, but you won’t be committing them to memory either. I don’t have a problem with the audio work and I don’t believe many people would either.
The mandatory single player experience, dubbed Z Chronicles, isn’t the most accurate recounting of the greatest DBZ moments, but they’ll serve fans of the series well as reminders. “I don’t remember Goku wearing that gi during this series”, “Oh, I remember that battle!” and the reenactment of the fan favorite, “It’s over 9000!” scene – it’s like one big highlight reel. By the end, I was using the game’s inaccuracies themselves as an unofficial Dragon Ball Z trivia test. It’s unfortunate that Burst Limit contains only three out the four Dragon Ball Z sagas; the Buu Saga didn’t make the cut. I know die hard DBZ fans will be disappointed to find that only 21 characters made the cut, but honestly, will you miss Dr. Gero or Cell Jr. that much? I didn’t.
You may have noticed I said that the single player experience was ‘mandatory’. Nobody is forcing you to play it, but if you wanted to drop into an online game or a local two player duel with a friend straight away, you’re in for a surprise. A majority of the characters, stages and drama pieces needs unlocking. The drama pieces, if you’re wondering, are ‘items’ which characters can equip for additional benefits ranging from defense bonuses to life recovery. I wasn’t a fan of these drama pieces outside the single player component. As short unskippable cutscenes, I found them to be disruptive and out of context during duels with live opponents. Thankfully, you could opt to not use these Drama Pieces.