Dragon Ball Z: Burst LimitESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
64KB to save game
Atari has recently released their latest videogame version of the long running Japanese anime Dragon Ball Z. Aptly titled Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit, this newest game is out on both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. I recently reviewed the PS3 version, and the Xbox 360 is basically a carbon copy. It is a fighter that seems to have some great mechanics, a relatively large assortment of characters, and a whole lot of style to go with it. For those that who are not wholly familiar with the series, like myself, there are times that you will wonder what the heck is going on, however for fans of Dragon Ball Z this game really is a celebration of what many enjoy about the series.
The visuals in Burst Limit are quite well done. Now I know that a lot of you want to know how close to the anime the game is, and I would have to say it is pretty close. I openly admit that my exposure to the actual anime is limited, but I have seen a few episodes now and then. What really was evident during my playtime was the use of color. Everything is very bright and very vibrant on the screen. I took my review copy to my home office and played in on an 80-inch screen and I found no loss of detail when blowing this game up to a large size. The animations for each character are also well done and they nary miss a beat even when the action gets frantic and quite chaotic. There is a nice complement of special effects, including some great lighting and particle effects, which are used throughout the game’s various levels.
I thought that it would be prudent to comment on the camera work in this section of the review given that it seems to flow so well that it really does help the visual appeal. I found that as the camera moved around the various levels that I fought in I couldn’t help but note how it really made me feel like I was watching one of the actual episodes. The ability for the camera to make the game action look this way was quite cool to say the least.
If I have any area that I want to remotely complain is that some of the levels did look a little sparse. There was not a lot going on in the levels that you fight on, and I think they could have benefitted from a little more detail and a little more interactivity. This is a minor complaint though and something that only slightly takes away from the visual appeal of this game.
Sound is also a pretty good compliment to the overall enjoyment of Burst Limit. The voices in the game are, as far as I can tell, those from the series. I am not a Dragon Ball Z expert, but I did some research while writing my review (e.g. forums) and it seems that these voices are indeed authentic. If anything you will want to have the Japanese voices on while you read the English subtitles as they are displayed on the screen. Not only does this give the game a more authentic anime feel, but it also helps the lip syncing. As for the sound effects, they too are solid and help pull you into the Dragon Ball Z universe. From the sound of throwing and blocking punches to the sounds of special moves being launched, it is all there and gets the job done. As for the soundtrack, it manages to match the on-screen action. It is definitely can get chaotic on-screen and the music helps to create the atmosphere the game is trying to convey. Overall the audio manages to make this game an even better experience.
As I mentioned in my introduction, fans of Dragon Ball Z will really appreciate what this game has to offer as there is no doubt that they have watched the countless episodes of the anime the game is based on. For those that are not too familiar with the series, this game will be somewhat of a struggle given that what story line is available does not seem to have any introduction or any in-depth explanation of why the events in the game are unfolding. To a non-fan of the series the game really does seem like more of a series of fights that are randomly linked to each other with a bit of a light story thrown in. I found this somewhat disappointing as I really would have liked to have easily understood who was who, why they were important, and what the reasoning was for each battle that was taking place.
Story aside, Burst Limit is a fighting game through and through. And of course with any fighting game comes the traditional features of such. Of course there are the characters you can choose from. From the onset you only have three fighters but as you make your way through the main gameplay mode you will eventually open up others for a total of 21 characters.
Of course along with all the characters comes a repertoire of fighting moves for you to learn, and with Burst Limit the game eases you into it. What I found somewhat surprising is that for fighting game rookies like me, I was able to be fairly successful at pulling off some pretty impressive moves. There is a very useful tutorial mode that allows you to learn what you need to do. Burst Limit was somewhat daunting at first as the realization that all the buttons on the Xbox 360 controller are assigned tasks, even multiple ones. However there are no insane combinations of button presses to memorize, so you are able to pull of some uber-looking moves with very simple button presses. That being said the game is not a button masher as you have to know how to time your attacks and blocks, as well as when to attempt to absorb attacks, at just the right time. So for the newcomer, the game is very accessible, and for the seasoned vet the game is in-depth enough to allow for one to get satisfaction from having to use skill to win.
The main gameplay mode in Burst Limit is called Z Chronicles. Here you will relive some of the greatest adventures the Z fighters have ever seen. There are around 50 or so battles for you fight through. You will open up the majority of what the game has to offer in this mode, including Drama Pieces that are available in the game. Drama Pieces are small cut-scenes that are triggered by certain events that take place during a fight. These pieces can be such things as restoring your health or calling another character to come and help you. What you will find, as I did, is that these cut-scenes really make the game feel more like the anime that it is based on given the style and method of how they are displayed. Eventually you can open up multiple Drama Pieces and assign three different ones to your character, in a sense customizing your player to suit your own personal fighting style. You will find yourself having to play through the Z Chronicle mode more then once should you wish to open up all the Drama Pieces in the game.
Of course there are other modes to fill up your time when playing Burst Limit. There is a Versus mode where you select your favorite character and go head-to-head against another character on any battle stage. You can play against a computer AI opponent or another human being. The latter is best though as nothing really beats fighting another person who may or may not think as well as you. There is also a Trial mode where you can test your skills in three separate areas: Survival, Time Attack and Battle Point. Survival has you fighting computer AI opponents for as long as your health lasts. Time Attack has you fighting a series of opponents in an effort to beat them as quick as possible. Battle Point has you fighting in a series of opponents while trying to earn as many points as possible. All in all these add some replayability to the game as well as helps you hone your skills given that you must be at the top of your game to beat these modes.
Of note is the fact that the Versus mode is the multiplayer mode in Burst Limit. You can either take on a fellow gamer in our own gaming room, or by taking the game online. Both are fun as it is always a different experience playing another person given you cannot gauge human nature all the time. Playing online has always been a great way for random battles, and this is no different over Xbox LIVE. However you will have to search out a lot of different people in order to find a lag free fight. This was VERY surprising to me given that Microsoft’s online service is much more refined than that of Sony’s, so to get this lag was a bit confusing. Once I did find an opponent whose connection was as strong as mine, it was a pretty smooth affair and not that bad of an experience at all. And before you blame my internet connection for any of the said lag I speak of, I will tell you now I have a download of 29000 kb/s and an upload of 1000 kb/s, so my connection is quite strong. I should also mention that the online experience also includes leaderboards which tracks your online performance allowing you to find opponents of similar skill level. All in all the entire multiplayer aspect is fun and a nice addition to the game.
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