Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 review
It's time for Dragon Ball games to evolve. You already know this if you're a fan, and you also know what to expect from Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2. It's crammed with 100 combatants from the legendary series, counting the multiple forms of some characters, including everyone's favorite Super Saiyans down to B-listers like Videl and Zangya. Finding a favorite combatant is easy. It's unlocking them all over again for the sake of the same flawed combat that might turn you off.
Raging Blast 2 has no traditional story mode, which probably doesn't hurt the game much. By this point, you most likely know every detail of the plot, or simply don't care. Instead, Galaxy Mode presents each character with a series of non-canonical battles to build power and collect stat-enhancing items on the way to the final boss. Some characters, like Chiaotzu, have as few as four battles to contend with, while heavy-hitters like Goku and Broly have serious gauntlets to endure.
The battles in Galaxy Mode are rarely straightforward. One might challenge you to simply destroy as many Saibamen as possible, while another will put you through a four-person onslaught of the most powerful villains. Then there are the missions that toss you in the ring with a sliver of health and two opponents capable of ending your life with a single hit. They're not fun. They're maddening.
Most fighters have multiple paths in Galaxy Mode, so the most difficult battles are not always required, but they do have benefits. Winning battles raises a character's potential power level, awards new special moves, and unlocks items that can generally be used by all. The higher your power level, the more items you can equip to boost your health, strengthen melee attacks, or even enhance a character's unique super attack. It's an easy way to personalize otherwise preset characters, even though you'll likely use the same items repeatedly.
Battle Zone is another single-player mode that is more intense than Galaxy Mode, but unnecessarily separated. Each stage pits you against a handful of tough opponents in traditional one-on-one battles on your way to the boss, which is just like Galaxy Mode without the variety. Still, you can try to earn Challenge Stamps by limiting yourself, such as not using super attacks, which in turn yield Duel Points. And Duel Points do… something?
Mystery is the greatest burden of Raging Blast 2. You may be able to fuse two characters into one or pull off joint super attacks with the right combinations in team battles, but this requires prior knowledge of characters' relationships. How is the average Joe supposed to know that the androids can't charge their ki like other characters? Even fans who know Goten from Gotenks might have troubles since neither the tutorials nor the manual explain aspects like the finer details of Galaxy Mode, or how to use the Dragon Balls when collected.
The versus modes are the selling points of Raging Blast 2. There are options for one-on-one matches and team battles with up to five combatants per side, but Power Battle is the highlight. It's the one mode in which you can choose Super Saiyan Broly or Perfect Cell and not be accused of using an overpowered character. Everyone is assigned power values (e.g. 11 for Krillin, 19 for Goku), and you can have up to five characters as long as you don't go over the chosen maximum. You can even spend it all on one super-powered fighter imported from other modes.
Another multiplayer favorite, online and off, is World Tournament. Up to 16 players can compete in bracket style tournaments, with AI opponents if you're flying solo. The main appeal is how customizable the tournaments are. You can set a tournament that only allows villains, Z-fighters, characters from the Frieza saga, or the Android saga, to name a few options. More limitations on characters would have been appreciated, as you'll often see duplicates in the roster, but World Tournament is still a fun way to find out who really is the best of the best.
I saved combat for last, because it's the one aspect that threatens to cripple an otherwise entertaining fighter. Raging Blast 2 has all the expected rounds of melee, ki blasts, and character-specific super attacks that you expect, packed into large arenas and wrapped in attractive cel-shaded visuals. Combat is more about timing than complex movements, which makes it easy to pick up. Problems arise when players start catching on to the endless and nearly unbreakable combos. Once learned, Galaxy Mode and Battle Zone become mundane chores rather than challenges, and versus battles are decided by the first blows, as opposed to tactical skill.
Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 packs in more characters, modes, and options for customization than any fan should rightfully expect, despite the lack of a story mode. It even includes a remake of the animated film, Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans. But, fan-service only goes so far when built around aging gameplay with flawed combat. Nevertheless, Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2 is a riot at get-togethers, until your friends learn the combos that is.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]