Read Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 text version

10 June 2007

By: Alexandru Stanescu, Editor, Gaming Reviews (Consoles)

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2

The best anime-based title around

Releasing a game that doesn't make justice to the best and most famous anime series would be a real shame. Well, there are some fans that are pretty sure Pokemon is the best anime, but there are millions of anime-watchers that will always try to be home when another episode of Dragon Ball Z starts. That being said, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is not only a game, but also a possibility to rediscover the DBZ universe and take part in the action you've been watching for the past years. Featuring Goku and company, the game offers a unique experience of fast-paced combat, anime-style graphics and the whole storyline of the huge saga. When you're a producer trying to make this sort of game, it's a relief to see that there is no need to throw in some extra eye-candy, because the fans will always be looking for the same good old cartoonish graphics, instead of some a-la-Final Fantasy cutscenes. StoryDragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 gives you a change to take part in the plots of the famous Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT series, by playing the Dragon Adventure Mode. You'll see Goku get killed by Raditz and his son being trained by Piccolo, then Goku's revenge against Raditz, the arrival of Vegeta on Earth and the great Saiyan battles. If you've watched the entire show, it will be great to finally take part in the gigantic storyline and destroy a couple of baddies or make a few characters evolve to Super Saiyans. See the warriors train, grow up, die, get resurrected, fight each other, create alliances, destroy foes, train their offsprings, die again, on an on like in the anime. The feeling's great, specially because the game's not all about fighting, focusing both on the story and the characters' personalities and development. Concept Right from the start you're introduced to the DBZ world with a great FMV and welcomed by a colorful menu, where there's the option of changing the music by pressing the R1 or L1 buttons in some sections. The game features 129 playable characters and if you're a hardcore DBZ fan you'll probably love to play with Goku, Gohan, Goten, Piccolo, Raditz, Vegeta, Trunks and many others, available in their multiple Saiyan and baby versions. If you want to roam around the famous anime universe, I suggest you start playing the Dragon Adventure Mode, or the story mode of this game. You'll fly around the Earth and space performing all sorts of quests involving battles and ability-related achievements. The story events will always be mentioned, so that you know what are goals are, but keep an eye out, as there are also hidden story events that can award you with tons of items. Budokai Tenkaichi 2's interface and looks clearly show that this is a product designed for the kids and DBZ fans. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with an easy game and you'll have a pretty hard time leveling up. Also, in Dragon Adventure Mode, while flying around, you'll find new quests and challenges, earning Zeni (the official DBZ currency) and Z-items. The Zeni can be used at the local item shop, that sells 4 types of items: ability type, support type, fusion type and secret type. Those can increase a character's ki, attack, defense, speed, number of equipment slots, blast and ultimate blast. After you're done shopping, the items must be placed in their slots in order to be used, in a way that resembles a bit Final Fantasy's ability assignment system. There are lots of locations to visit, used as pretexts to fight, shop for items or start new quests. Some of the most famous places you'll visit are Baba's Palace, Southern Capital, Kame House, Eastern Capital and many many more. In case you've had enough toying around with the story mode, there's also the Ultimate Battle Z Mode, that is in fact a fun ranking challenge that allows you to fight rivals throughout the DBZ world. You'll start a "course" that consists of several battles and once you win them all, you'll get a couple of rare items. After each battle points are awarded for the max combo, max damage, battle time and they're all summed up for a total rank. Another fun to play mode is the

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Dragon Tournament, that has a certain Mortal Kombat ring to it. This is an easy way to earn Zeni, by taking part in battles grouped in the shape of towers, similar to the MK system. You'll be able to prepare the tournament by selecting the difficulty (novice, or adept), the number of rounds, the number of entrants and participants. Since this will be some sort of official challenge, there will be semifinals and finals for the lucky fighters that reach the top. Also during the fights, players must look out for the arena's bounds, as stepping beyond those will make them lose the battle. Back to the game's modes, there's the Dueling option, that lets you fight against one of your human opponents, by using two joysticks or simply fight against the computer in a standard battle. There are many battle settings to modify in order to make things spicier and give your human opponent a hard time. You can set the duel time, the apparition of items on or off, choose a referee and set transformations on or off. Battles will be fought in one of the locations you choose and there are plenty of arenas like Wasteland, Rocky Area, City Ruins, Kame House, Glacier, Ruined Earth, Kami's Lookout, Namek and many more. I was foolish enough to start playing the game without a proper training and if you're not going to do the same I suggest you take a look at the Ultimate Training Mode from the main menu. This option features two sub-modes: training and practice, one showing you the basics of fighting, defending, dashing, rushing and blasting and the other giving you a chance to practice them. Just choose a player, an enemy, a battleground and practice away, without the fear of losing a battle. Z-items play a very important part in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, since they are the ones that set your characters' abilities, strengths and various attacks. In the Evolution Z Mode, players can combine two Z-items in an attempt to create new and stronger ones. The fans of the series were not forgotten, so there's a Dragon Library in the game, some sort of encyclopedia, that shows all of the characters' illustrations and tells all of their stories; The Saiyan saga, Frieza saga, Android saga, Majin Buu saga and Dragon Ball GT saga. Game modes aside, DBZ: Budokai Tenkaich 2 is a very complex title, making it impossible to call it just a fighting game. Lots of characters, lengthy battles, a solid storyline and thousands of combos will keep you glued to the screen like there's no tomorrow. However, there are some flaws that will keep you from getting the max out of this gaming experience. From the weird control system, to the character glitches and impossible to beat AI, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 manages to spoil the good things that it provides for DBZ fans, but not enough to lose its appeal. GameplayI was expecting this title to be a tad less challenging than the great names of the fighting games genre like Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters or Tekken. I guess I was wrong and I really can't remember another title that challenged my fingers in such an exhausting manner. You'll see what I'm talking about after the first few kicks and punches thrown in a regular in-game fight. One single moment of peace will make you a sitting duck and before you know it, your character will be flying towards the ground gravely wounded. Also, you'll surely notice that the fights last longer than in any other fighting game, mostly because the characters have tons of hit points. A gamer's fingers will hurt because he'll do a lot of button mashing and tapping, trying to trigger killer moves and start those trademark combos we've seen in the anime series. By pressing the circle button, you'll parry, but don't rely too much on the good old guard, because it can be broken easily with a few well-placed blows. There's a high level of interaction with the surrounding environment and that can only please a gamer that's sick of fighting in arenas that look good, but have no influence on the battle's progress. You can hit your foe with a super combo sending him like a projectile to smash rocks and buildings and fall to the ground like a ragdoll. Also, you'll be able to stay under water in case you're hiding from your opponent in a fight that only requires you to survive for 90 seconds. Imagine hitting Piccolo in the face, smashing him against a rock, throwing him underneath the water and sending an energy wave towards his hurt body to finish the job. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it? Well, it's part of the gameplay and also part of each DBZ episode I've watched. As I played through the Dragon Adventure Mode I noticed that my character had to fight enemies that were far stronger than him, having a higher level and more experience and attack power. You'll also get experience points and increase your

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level as you progress through the game and storyline. In the beginning, you'll have to avoid being defeated and survive for a minute or so when taking on strong foes, but later you'll have your revenge and defeat trademark characters like Vegeta or Raditz. One should never forget to equip his Z-items, because those are the keys to a character's growth and development. Z-items become more effective as you gather experience points and level up. Like in the famous RPG titles, there's a neat way to reach a higher level by battling the same opponents over and over again, in order to gain experience points and items. However, be careful when choosing a certain character, because you might invest Z-items and experience in a character that will be killed or removed from your party by the story. It's weird that the story carries on and gets a certain character killed after a battle, where he smashed his opponent. It is frustrating to see a couple of days of work go down the drain as the storyline "commands" your favorite character's death wasting items and points. You can't review a title like DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 without mentioning the great fights. Basically you can do anything you've ever seen in the anime, from the Kamehameha attacks, to animal transformations, guard breaks, counters, taunts and last-minute wins. Also, there's a lot of flying to do, usually in an attempt to reach a spot that grants your superiority throughout the battle. I'm talking about the Superman-like flying around with a trail of "superhero jet" behind, that makes the battles look more dynamic and fast-paced. There are two main flaws of the battle system: characters tend to stop and taunt their opponents, risking to lose a lot of HP and the second is the fact that once you get behind an enemy, he'll be practically dead taking a lot of damage. It takes a great deal of time for a character to turn around and parry the hits of his opponent or start a counter attack. Always remember that the arena you fight on can affect your play style, specially if you're the sneaky kind of guy that uses long-distance energy blasts and hides under water. There's also the famous Tournament arena, where you'll easily lose the battle by going out of bounds. It gets pretty tough not to do so, specially if you're the type of gamer that uses the character's flying abilities a lot.Aside from the square-button mashing and flying around, there's another way of handling things in a regular battle: reach a spot far away from your enemy and charge your Kamehameha attack that deals a lot of damage. By doing that a couple of times you'll achieve victory in no time. I believed that the whole Dragon Ball Z universe is based on fair fighting and harnessing your force in a positive way, so I was puzzled to see that you can hit your enemy and get hit when you're laying down hurt after a serious attack. Well, some people just want the victory no matter what, so who's to blame the producers for this little extra way of dealing damage?VideoThere's no flaw in the game's graphical department, that's all I can say. Playing Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is exactly like watching a classic DBZ episode: exciting and pleasant for the eye and mind. All the original animations seem to be used in the title, during battle sequences, while in the story mode you'll see the usual Japanese-style facial expressions and speech bubbles. The damage you do to a certain character is shown by the status of his clothes and the wounds on his body, which is a great improvement for any fighting game. Like this wasn't enough, the environments react to your powerful attacks, rocks get smashed to pieces, characters hit the ground and leave marks or splash water when they're thrown into the sea. Kamehameha and all powerful combos look great, so once you get to master all the cool attacks, you'll be getting lots of eye candy from the title. All the characters are well-drawn, looking exactly like their anime counterparts and having their personality shown by their faces and actions through some top class animations. SoundAlthough it's repetitive, the music you'll hear complements the whole package, making the game more fun. Usually, you'll listen to rock, rave and techno tunes, ideal for such fighting games. It's pretty funny to hear Goku speaking English and the in-game dialogs are so boring and filled with clichés, that they're only useful if you want to find out the plot. Other than that, the audio part of Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is saved by the fact that characters have a great way of expressing their pain, frustration or victory. They scream, growl and taunt a lot, making the fights more exciting and lively, which is a good thing if you consider their length, that risks to annoy an

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impatient gamer. Multiplayer I suppose that there is a number of gamers that bought the title strictly for its multiplayer battles. In case you didn't know, all the 2 player battles in the game are in split-screen mode, because of the size of the environment and the fact that each character is independent, being able to fly around the level, hiding or preparing a powerful attack, according to the player's strategy. You can play normal one on one, tag or free battles in any of the locations you desire, while setting some of the battle's characteristics, like the time or the activation of transformations. Budokai Tenkaichi 2 can be hugely entertaining in its multiplayer mode, because the fans of the anime will finally have a chance to test their strength with a human opponent and try all of the 129 characters.ConclusionDragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 could be the best fighting game ever created, if it wasn't for its flaws and pretty repetitive combos. Although there's a wide variety of things a character can do, all the attacks look the same and long-lasting battles can prove to be a disadvantage in the long run. Not to mention those aching fingers after two or three fights, but this can only make a player stronger. However, the many characters, the original storyline and the fact that you'll have a lot of leveling up to do, can make this title your favorite game, if you're a Dragon Ball Z fan and expect a fighting game to deliver more than pure violence and eye candy.

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