Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 - PS2 - Preview
In a universe of anime losers, one intellectual property has prevailed with great use of a license and a popular fighting franchise: Dragon Ball Z. The series has taken many forms, including several handheld titles that mixed fighting and action game elements. Most prominent, of course, is the PS2 and Wii series – Budokai Tenkaichi. The third chapter is set for release this month.
GameZone got a chance to check out Wii version at this year’s E3 and was very impressed. But we didn’t know how the PS2 version would compare…until now.
Given that Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is another sequel to an established DBZ series, you’d think that the character designs and backgrounds would be locked into one appearance. Whether the game uses a new engine is unclear, but if not, it has been heavily tweaked. The gameplay mirrors the same jump-in-and-play experience of its predecessors, and now the characters are slightly larger, the cel-shading effects are smoother, and the backgrounds appear to be twice as large. You no longer have that annoying enclosed, claustrophobic feel. The environments do have an end, but it’s less apparent.
Structurally, the larger backgrounds and superb interactivity provide a stellar amount of world destruction. This series has already matched certain aspects of the show’s visuals, and Budokai Tenkaichi 3 comes close to surpassing the cartoon’s 2D backdrops. They appear as if the developers took the show’s backgrounds and brought them into the third dimension, retaining the cartoon look while adding a degree of realism. You may notice a hint of graininess on the trees or mountains (assuming they haven’t been ironed out for the final version), but the fluid animations make up for that.
Get in the Mode
Dragon History, Dragon World Tour, Duel, Character Reference, Evolution Z and Ultimate Training are the building blocks of Budokai Tenkaichi 3’s world. Their variations aren’t always massive. Dragon History, for example, gives you several battle scenarios to complete. Story elements are thrown into the mix, but the only combative difference is that you’re supposed to play as the characters relating to the plot. It’s not a free-for-all, select-anyone-you-like match like some of the other modes.
Dragon World Tour is one giant tournament. Duel is the DBZ’s version of an arcade versus mode. Character Reference tells you a little bit about each of the game’s stars. Ultimate Training, of course, is where you’ll learn how to refine your battle skills.
Looking for an upgrade? Evolution Z is the mode to visit. Special moves, attack power, ki, blast, and defensive strength are the five areas that may be tweaked. You can also buy and equip items to change your character’s status.
Fighter Lineup Squared
Fighting games get shorter over time. It’s true – the bubble expands until it bursts. This happened multiple times with Tekken and Mortal Kombat, whose lineup peaks at the end of one console’s lifespand and shrinks at the start of the following generation.
Hopefully Dragon Ball Z won’t be met with the same fate. For now that isn’t something to worry about. There are more than 100 characters being included in the game, including more than one form of Gohan, Goku, Piccolo and Vegeta. The Androids are playable, as is Recoome, Jeice, Guldo, Frieza, Mecha Freiza, Freiza Soldier, Dr. Gerdo, and Majin Buu. Among the dozens of playable characters were 21 empty slots that appear to be reserved for secret characters.
As with the other DBZ titles, combos and special moves are used to individualize each warrior. The basic attacks are very similar across the board, enabling anyone to pick up and play with any character at any time. However, depending on the character’s size, the gameplay can change drastically. If you’re in control of Gohan’s beastly transformation while battling a child or some other small character, the gameplay will adjust to show those differences.
Not to be outdone, the stage lineup is also very large. Kame House, a dark land called Ruined Earth, the planet Namek, and a hyperbolic time chamber are just a few of the battle environments.
With Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3’s release literally around the corner, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out how the finished game stacks up. Stay with GameZone for more on the PS2 and Wii versions of this highly anticipated sequel.