IGN Review of Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai Another Road
Goku and company just won't quit. The DBZ gang is back at it again with the follow-up to last year's PSP release, Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai - Another Road. The game is largely a refinement over what we saw last time out, with better controls, a tighter camera, better character development and more. Gamers looking for an overhaul of the formula need not apply as many of these changes are slight, but those who had fun with the last effort will once again find plenty to enjoy here.
Another Road marks the first time in the franchise, be it television, movie or game, that an alternate, non-canon story takes place. Supposing that Goku has a heart condition and dies, Trunks is the only remaining fighter in the world that can stop the evil from destroying mankind (or is that Dragon Ball-kind?). While this sounds rather solemn, the rest of the story is strictly the kooky and corny DBZ storytelling that we've come to know.
One cool element of the story and overall game progression is that it often splits off into multiple branches. Be it via either your choice of action or how you perform in a certain scenario, the game will branch off into different paths and you'll encounter different enemies, boss fights and so on. It's actually possible to see an ending after only two fights. The storyboard shows you where these paths split, so you can easily go back and pick the different path to see everything there is.
Aside from the main Another Road story option, you also have access to a new Z-Trial challenge mode. This features three different challenges types, including a survival and time trial mode. Beating these will earn you cash for purchasing different backgrounds and character upgrades, rewarding you for playing them over and over again. They're a little more interesting than the basic Arcade mode and help to mix things up a bit, though we hope to see more variety here in the future, like what you'll find in some of Soulcalibur's challenges, such as starting in a weakened state and so forth. The third main Z-Trial challenge type is similar to this, except that rather than setting changes they're set up as goals, like needing to perform a certain number of special attacks. It's decent, but not quite the same.
Once you jump into a fight, much of what you'll find here is just as what we saw in the first release, though again, pretty much everything's been tightened up and tweaked a bit. The camera is situated at a better angle, for instance, and zooms and pans appropriately to allow you to see what's going on from interesting angles while still giving you great control over the battle. The control scheme largely works the same, though button presses seem to be a little quicker and more responsive than last time out.
As has been the case with each successive release over the past couple years, Dragon Ball Z has stepped up its fighting mechanism just a tad and remains a rather fun fighting engine. It's basic, to be sure, though there's enough strategy here that you can get reasonably deep with tactics and such. While the number of basic fighting moves is comparatively small, the use of power charges, energy attacks, form changes and so forth give you plenty to work with. Some advanced moves, like Instant Transmissions and counter attacks, require split-second button presses, calling out for practice to perfect, but also don't get in the way of first-time players. We doubt we'll see the game in any sort of high-profile competition leagues, but it is good fun.
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