We get an exclusive look at Atari and Dimps' latest entry in its DBZ fighting franchise.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 is the third entry in publisher Atari and developer Dimps' fighting franchise that's based on the classic anime series. While the Dragon Ball Z series has had spotty luck making the leap to games over the years, the first entry in the Budokai series gave fans a reason to believe that the dark days of half-baked games that coasted on the license were ending. Unfortunately, the promising series hit a bump in the road with 2003's second entry in the series, which tweaked the simple formula that was introduced in the first game by adding a board-game structure that bogged down the solid action.
Fortunately, Atari and Dimps appear to have learned their lesson with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, a game that takes a back-to-basics approach that regains the simple appeal of the original game while adding new mechanics and a broader roster to it. We tried our hand at a work-in-progress version of the PlayStation 2 game to see if the series has truly regained its magic.
You'll find four modes in the game: dragon universe, duel, world tournament, and training (plus there's a locked dragon arena mode). Dragon universe is the expected story mode that lets you step into the role of characters from Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT to play through key story sequences from both series. You'll find the usual suspects--such as Goku, Piccolo, Gohan, Vegeta, Recoombe, and the rest of the gang you've seen in the previous games--along with some new faces. The universe mode offers a deeper character development system that blends the skill capsule system with a role-playing-game-like experience system that lets you earn Z points you can distribute to your fighter's stats. You'll be able to increase your brawler's health, ki, attack, guard, arts, ability, and com levels (we'll explain what "com" is in just a second).
While the adventure is still basically linear, in terms of the way the story is told, you'll have some measure of freedom in how you go through it. An onscreen world map will show you the key locales you'll have to reach and then poke around in to get the story to progress. However, if you just stick to that, you'll miss out on hidden battles, skill capsules, and interactions with other characters. Duel is your standard versus mode, which lets you duke it out with a friend or an artificial intelligence-controlled opponent. World tournament sends you through a series of battles, at different difficulties, that lets you earn money you can use to buy skill capsules. Finally, training brings you up to speed on the game's fighting system.
In addition to those initially selectable modes, you'll also be able to unlock the dragon arena, which is a slick mode that's one of the game's most pleasant surprises. At first blush, the mode looks like another variant on the duel mode, because you'll be able to battle computer-generated opponents. The nice twist is that you'll be able to earn experience to level up your character. The experience you earn will be based on the level of the opponent you choose. But that's only part of what the mode has to offer. If you poke around a bit more, you'll discover that you can input passwords that you'll find on the game's Web site to earn the right to fight against other players' characters. You'll notice that as you customize your fighters in the game, you'll receive passwords for them. If you post these passwords on the Web, then anyone can input them into his or her game to fight against your character. If your character's com stat is high, your character will be a butt-kicking machine when imported into someone else's game.
- Player Reviews: 538
- Game Universe:
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (PS2, GC),
- Dragon Ball Z: Sagas (PS2, XBOX, GC),
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 (PS2, GC),
- Dragon Ball Z: Idainaru Dragon Ball Densetsu (PS, SAT),
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 (WII, PS2),
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (PS2, WII),
- Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit (X360, PS3),
- Dragon Ball: Raging Blast (PS3, X360),
- Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 (PS3, X360),
- Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi (PS3, X360)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: