IGN Review of Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
DBZ is back again, this time making its debut on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit. With fighting mechanics that are both accessible and deep, a good assortment of characters to choose from, famed battles from the Z Chronicles to fight and even online play, there's a lot here that fans of the franchise will find to devour.
Burst Limit is a fan's game, at least as far as the story presentation goes. By this I mean that there's virtually no exposition of any sort to set up the events of what's happening, and unless you know what the bigger story in any of the covered sagas happens to be, then the "story" that you're presented with looks to be little more than a series of fights strung back-to-back.
It's rather disappointing in this respect in that a game like this could do well to draw new fans to the franchise, even outside of gaming, but what's happening is too confusing to non-DBZ fans that you can't actually get attached to any of the characters, or even know who they are or what they're about.
Still, the storyline isn't the game's focus, and fortunately the combat can be quite rewarding. As mentioned, the control scheme is set up simply enough that you can jump in and be successful early on by using only the face buttons to perform fast or strong attacks, block and use Ki powers. Most all of your moves are quick and simple in nature, which means that you won't have to master the timing or subtleties of pulling off complex attacks.
However, while your basic attacks are simple, there are a number of advanced moves that allow you to dig in and master the game's mechanics. For instance, if you time a block/dodge against a ranged attack correctly, you can teleport behind your opponent and hit them from behind. Likewise, after knocking someone into the air and timing a button press very well, you can follow them up and unleash some additional damage.
Properly managing your Ki Guage also offers a good deal of complexity and strategy. While you can use whatever Ki you've saved up for an ultimate attack or various super attacks, like a Kamehameha for instance, you can also use Ki to perform a special block that'll protect you from most any attack, or, when fully charged, enter the Aura Spark mode or transform into another form.
The Aura Spark mode, which gives you increased attacks for a short period of time, then lets you teleport once and lets you perform a Blow-Away attack, which is similar to following someone after knocking them into the air, but does a great deal more damage. All of these moves, though similar to some of the more basic moves, require the use of unique buttons, which means that you'll have to practice not only their timing, but which button to use when and in which scenario.
Beyond this, the game has an interesting counter-attack system in that the person who attacks second with a matching attack with get their hit in, which caters towards strategic and timed play rather than button mashing. The end result is that the game is easy to pick up and play, but you'll need a great deal of practice in order to take down an experienced fighter. If you step into the ring with a veteran and mash on buttons to try and put together a string of moves, you'll likely get dominated.
Another theoretically interesting bit is that your character can become fatigued while in battle. Tapping the block button will cause your character to dodge attacks instead of absorb them, though it adds fatigue. You'll also get fatigued from blocking or just taking damage, though dodging will eat it up more quickly than anything else. When your meter fills up, you'll be stunned for a short while and unable to even move.
While this seems cool in concept, I rarely ever became fatigued on accident. It takes a while for the gauge to fill up, especially if you aren't using a dodge move (and are instead dodging things "manually"), so this isn't really something that you need to worry about too much. It might have been cooler to have this as a side effect of trying to use too many special attacks or something along those lines, but that isn't the case.
While your efforts will obviously decide the outcome of your battles, the Drama Pieces system does have an effect on what happens. If you're playing a Versus battle, you can choose up to three Drama Pieces before a fight, though they'll be automatically assigned in the Z Chronicles depending on who's in the battle. When certain events happen, a Drama Piece will be triggered and change some element of the battle. These vary in effect - you could gain a little boost of health when almost defeated, a character could jump in to absorb an attack, you could get a Ki and/or attack boost, or anything else of this sort.
Drama Pieces wind up being a decent idea in that they help give each character a little more personality, while also supplying fights with comeback moments or tide-turning interference maneuvers by other characters. While purists may opt to turn them off in a Versus game (including online matches), you'll have to use them in the Z Chronicles. Fortunately though, while they do make a difference, none of them feel cheap in a way that would prevent you from winning were they not there. They do make a difference, but not a massive one, which is good.
While all of this is nice, there are a couple issues in terms of the variety that you'll find in Burst Limit. There are only a handful of stages, and they do little more than act as backdrops in the far off distance. Given that you don't interact with them all that much, it would have been nice to see more variety here since they can't have taken all that long to create. Some of the spots look pretty cool, like a fire-filled area that appears at the end of the Frieza Saga, but more choices overall would have been great.
As well, while there's a decent list of characters to choose from, many of them don't feel too different from one another. The ultimate and super attacks at their disposal have a bit of variety, but many of the basic attacks are pretty much the same. There are speed differences here and there, but overall, it's simple to switch between characters because of how similar they are. This may be a good thing if you want to keep things simple and be able to switch between characters all the time, but I wish there were more variety between all of the combatants to help mix things up a good bit more.
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit does bring online play into the mix, and if you're playing someone with a good connection, the results are fantastic. It can feel like you're playing someone sitting right next to you, with no noticeable lag and dead-on responsive controls. However, you can sometimes go up against someone either far from your location or with a shady connection, and things can quickly fall apart with plenty of lag that actually alters what you're capable of doing. I was in a match where I couldn't side-step ranged attacks because of all the lag, for instance.
You'll find leaderboards here that'll track your power ranking, though there's not a ton beyond this. Tournaments are nowhere to be found, nor are room-based battles where you can watch others fight, which is a little disappointing. Still, when you match up with someone with a good connection, the system works flawlessly.
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