Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is a fighting game that was released in America on January 29, 2014. Like most other DBZ games, it is a fighting game that goes through the storylines of both the anime, movies, and TV specials. It does not follow as a sequel or prequel to any of the other Dragon Ball games like the Budokai Tenkaichi series.
The main storyline is the same one that the anime follows, skipping the 9 hours of powering up per boss fight of course. The story is segmented into separate sagas that correspond with a DBZ story arc. You start out fighting the Saiyans who attack earth, move on to Namek to fight the space tyrant Frieza, attack the android Cell, and finish off the story with the big fight against Kid Buu. However, there is a certain twist to the story: for every mission you complete as the Z fighters (Goku and company), you may play through the mission as the enemy with the goal of defeating the goodie-two-shoes earthlings. This is usually supposed to happen after you complete the saga as the good guys so that you unlock every useful villain.
On top of this story line, there are multiple side missions that can act as a horde mode or play through some of the stories of the Dragon Ball Z movies. These smaller story modes are perfect for training your character and gaining the upper edge on the opponents in the main story.
There is nothing to complain about in the graphics or environment of this game. Like the other Dragon Ball Z games, it is cell-shaded and true to the character design of the anime and manga. Fortunately the characters are almost perfectly rounded so that it looks like the anime itself; however, you may not get a good look at many of the characters at the beginning because you will most likely be covered by the enemies’ fists.
The world itself is beautiful with proper shading for the time of day of the mission. The shadowing is done perfectly and will, as hoped, disappear when you destroy the large objects that casts it.
The sound is beautiful and matches up perfectly with the battle sounds of the anime. Your instant transmissions will make the reminiscent twangs and each punch delivered will make a resounding thud that one always hopes for in a fighting game. The producers were also able to get ahold of most of the original series’ voice actors so that the game is immersive and believable audio-wise.
Unlike most DBZ games, which are 1 v. 1 or 1 v. all, Battle of Z is 4 vs. all. As the protagonist, you pick whatever character suits your desires and then you may choose three other characters to be on your team. It is very important to have a well-rounded team that has at least three of the four basic character types: Melee, Ki Blast, Interference, and Support. A melee character’s basic attacks can chain and become very damaging to the opponent. This is good for fighting hordes of enemies, or Ki Blast and Support enemies. The prime example for this type is, of course, Goku. A Ki Blast character is allowed to rapidly fire many Ki Blasts, which are blasts of energy for those who do not follow Dragon Ball. When you think of this type of character, Vegeta comes quickly to mind. This is equivalent to a ranged character and is perfect for slow bosses who are heavy hitters. A support character usually is able to heal or protect comrades from minor blows. For instance, Android 18’s special move is creating a sphere that heals all allies within it, while Gohan can shoot healing blasts toward allies. The last type is, in my opinion, the best type for taking down a powerful opponent, Interference. The melee or Ki attacks from this type of character impede all actions by the enemy, making is easy to quickly take them down without damaging yourself. This is especially true for Cell, who will decimate you quickly if given any quarter.
The amount of attacks you can do is governed by the hateful energy bar. You may fill it up by successfully landing basic attacks and spend it using advanced attacks. Once the bar is sufficiently filled you can do the characters most powerful move. Since I played as Goku for most of the story, I was able to hear the fulfilling scream of the Kamehameha Wave many times.
Should you get knocked out, you can wait for an ally to revive you or use one of your allotted retries. Sometimes your allies will leave you like a plate of fried liver and won’t flipping revive you so that you have to repeatedly use up your retries. Yes, this is the most frustrating part of the game, especially when the AI allies get knocked out all at once so that you are unable to revive them all.
On top of all this you can customize and power up your characters by using earned cards which will add +25 to melee or add +15 to Ki. With these cards you can make any character infinitely more powerful.
You are able to play local multiplayer with friends or with thousands of players worldwide. This is exactly like the single player except that your teammates will probably be much more helpful than your AI allies.
Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
This game gave me the utmost enjoyment while playing it. The game mechanics were easy enough to understand, even though the learning curve is as steep as the Karakorum Mountains. The graphics give nothing to complain about and the story is familiar and captivating. There was no hostility in the multiplayer and the matchmaking process was as easy as Halo Reach’s which is saying something. The only problem I had with the game is the AI’s refusal to follow your commands. Whether or not you tell them to hold back or go all out, they will simply put themselves in harm’s way and get themselves knocked out. Despite this, I had hours of enjoyment playing the amazing game that, in my opinion, is worth the retail price.