Dragon Ball Z is back, adding even more playable characters with some slightly tweaked environments to create a solid fighting game that doesn’t progress the series.
Replacing last year’s story mode is the addition of Dragon History Matches, where players take control of key Dragon Ball Z characters to fight some of the most memorable battles of the anime series. These battles range from simple one-on-one fights to whole groups of allies and enemies battling it out. Unfortunately, there are only two characters on the screen at a time as you swap out alternate characters into the fray as that particular episode allows. Nevertheless, any die-hard fan will like this mode for the simple reason of recreating these fights that they can put their own special twist on. At first glance this is a worthy addition, but upon completion it feels a little short compared to last years’ more involved story mode.
If the story is slightly lacking, the sheer amount of characters available will help fill in the gap as you now have access to over 150 characters from the entire series. Battlegrounds have been revamped to include some nighttime versions of the map, which is important because certain skills may only be pulled off under certain conditions. Enhanced graphics give the cell-shaded 2-D characters an authentic and respectable look on the PS2, truly capturing the art of the anime and creating a good-looking game.
The controls are going to be a little difficult for the average player to pick-up; although the game relies on a punch-kick-block mentality, to really progress you need to get the combination skills down to get anywhere. For series veterans this may be intuitive, but for me pulling off the critical combos took some time and effort to master. In fact, half of the enjoyment came from getting these amazingly stylized animations to go, especially if it happens to be against your half-witted friend sitting next to you whom you are trying to beat into the ground. Most impressive is the fluidity of the attacks which keeps the action at a high pace and enjoyable intensity.
Unlike the Wii version of the game, the PS2 is not online multiplayer capable. Instead, PS2 players can hot-swap previous disks of the series to access different modes of play through the disc-fusion mode. So, if you already own last year’s version of the game you can play characters in the Course Battle mode. Why they couldn’t just include these modes in the game so I don’t have to own multiple games is beyond me.
Overall, DBZ: BT3 is a solid game that takes a few steps forward and back from last year’s installment. For those new to these games it is a decent game to start with, giving you a good idea about what the series has to offer. For those already intimate with the series it might be a coin-toss as to whether it is worth adding this installment to your collection.