Gaming Today Reviews Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (PS2)
Writing a review for Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 seems a little pointless, seeing as the people most interested in the game have probably already snatched up a copy, played through it several times, and are now arguing all over the internet about who can beat who with Goku the most. But, nevertheless, a review copy of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 found its way to my mailbox, so here I am. There are moments in life where you just stop and ask yourself, exactly how did this happen? Opening a random package to find that I am the new owner of a Dragon Ball Z game, despite my complete and utter lack of knowledge on the anime series, is certainly one of those moment. However, I have to say, for a game that I knew nothing about going into it, this one isn’t half bad.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused by a video game in my life though. About five minutes into the game, it becomes apparent that it is heavily geared towards the die-hard DBZ fans more than anyone else. You’re given almost no setup for any of the gameplay or characters at all. The only way you can really find out about any of the characters is through an in-game reference guide filled with lengthy written bios for every character. Almost any fighting scenario you choose will toss you right into the middle of a major battle from the series, but without much of an explanation, there’s really no way to know what’s going on. I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, since all you need to know is you have to beat up the other guy. But it just seems a little odd that so much emphasis is put on keeping true to the series and the story without really explaining anything in the actual game.
As a fighting game, the gameplay is solid. Even seasoned gamers will stay occupied for some time with the wide variety of combos and special moves available for each character. And with over 150 characters to choose from, that’s quite a bit of variety. It’s not at the same intricate level as, say, Virtua Fighter 5, but it does manage to stay entertaining. There are also 20 different arenas to choose from. Some of them are populated with all manner of destructible objects and are fairly detailed. Others are kind of bland; particularly the ones that just involve a wide open plain with a few cliffs and trees thrown in. Still, even these are somewhat destructible, as a giant crater opens up wherever someone gets slammed to the ground.
You’ll also have plenty of game modes to choose from. “Dragon History” mode, for example, allows you to play through specific storylines from the show, essentially recreating major battles. A “Dragon Sim” mode partially blends some RPG elements with the fighting, giving you an opportunity to boost your attributes. There’s also the standard tournament and versus modes as well. You also have the option to save and replay any battles that you want. That and you’ll be able to purchase upgrades for your own favorite fighter, as well as unlock new fighters and challenges. One feature the PS2 version has that the upcoming Wii version won’t is the ability to use saved games from previous Budokai Tenkaichi games to unlock bonus modes and content. That’s certainly something to consider if you’re debating which version to get.
I’ve only seen a grand total of maybe five minutes of the actual TV series, spread out overall several channel surfing sessions, but the whole game looks and sounds just like the show. In fact, the animation seems almost better than the game’s source material at times. Each character moves and flies around smoothly, and looks good doing it. Some of the more impressive special moves are even fun to watch over and over again. The original voice actors apparently lent their talents to the game. The DBZ fans will appreciate this greatly, but the rest of us will just see it as more overly emotive dubbing for an anime game.
In general, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is a game for fans of the show, but even the uninitiated can enjoy this fighter. Thanks to a dynamic combat system and a bevy of chracters and game modes, there’s plenty of content to keep a person busy for quite some time. This is one of the few games that really seems to capture the feel of an anime show. It’s not the best fighting game out there, but its certainly not one of the worst.
The game is quite obviously geared towards hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans, which is both a blessing and a curse. Fans of the series will feel right at home, but newcomers will be initially turned off by confusing backstories and characters that are never fully explained.
Certain levels can seem bland, but overall the game looks just like the anime series, in a good way.
The voice actors are the same ones from the show, which can be both good and bad. The sound effects in general though just feel right.
The combat system isn’t all that complex, but it is solid. There’s enough moves and game modes to ensure the game stays entertaining for both the casual player and the hardcore fighting gamer.
Replay Value (7)
With an abundance of single-player and multiplayer modes, not to mention unlockables, there’s plenty in this game to keep you occupied for quite some time. You’ll have to get the Wii version for online battles though.
Gamers unfamiliar with the anime will have a hard time getting hooked into this game, but there is a decent fighting game underneath its cartoonish coat. Not a spectacular one, but a fairly enjoyable one nonetheless.