Review: Dragon Ball Z

Screenshot of Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Z, an action game for Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and Xbox 360.

A four-player cooperative action title based on Akira Toriyama's wildly successful Japanese comic book series of the same name, Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Z lets fans relive the fierce rivalries between factions portrayed in the source material.

But it does not stop there. As the game features more than 60 playable characters from various arcs of the Dragon Ball Z saga (although many are simply powered-up versions of existing characters), there are also dream scenarios where you get to square off against, for instance, Vegeta's family.

On that particular mission, you battle the father-and-son team of Vegeta and Trunks. Thanks to the wonders of time travel, there are two versions of Trunks: the teenager and the adult.

In total, about 80 missions await you, most of them deliberately made to be bone-crushingly difficult. You can try to cope with the help of three computer teammates, but this can be frustrating.

While you can issue basic instructions, such as "attack" or "retreat", to your teammates, you cannot call on them to revive you when you are knocked out. The online co-op mode is the way to go for clearing the harder missions.

Either way, you will need keen reflexes and the right mix of characters. All the playable characters are classified into four archetypes.

Melee type fighters are hand-to-hand combat specialists who can quickly close the gap between themselves and their targets. This trait is useful for homing in on enemies. It also allows them to reach downed allies quickly to revive them.

Ki Blast types are great for knocking down opponents with projectile attacks and keeping them at bay.

Support types generally play the role of medics.

Finally, Interfere types are characters who can trap opponents with status ailments.

At the start of the single-player campaign, you are taught briefly how the different character types and their abilities work with one another.

There are even mechanics built into the game to promote teamwork. You can charge a teammate's Ki energy meter, to allow, say, a Ki Blast type to put out an endless stream of projectiles.

But all of that inherent depth is lost to the very fans the developers are trying to reach, as fans by, and large, prefer sticking with melee attacks.

So the game becomes repetitive.

However, there is a thorough character progression system which lets you power up your favourites with cards unlocked at random by clearing missions. There are also a limited number of super-powerful cards that you can buy every week using points you earn from clearing missions.

Even though this is mostly a mindless button-mashing romp, Battle Of Z is still incredibly cathartic and will appeal to gamers who love to complete their games.

Sim Cheng Kai is a freelance writer.

Rating: 7/10

Price: $74.90 (PlayStation 3), $69.90 (PS Vita, version tested), $69.90 (Xbox 360)

Genre: Action


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