Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit Review - 19/06/2008

In my preview a few months ago I mentioned how the series' move into the next-gen may greatly benefit and enhance the game, inject a dose of performance enhancers if you like. Is this what happened or was the outcome decidedly more sterile?

Read that preview here. But first and foremost, it must be said, Burst Limit is of course a DBZ game. To that extent, the story mode (entitled Z Chronicles) will make little sense to anyone who has not seen the anime series. Unfortunately the game does little to alleviate any confusion that newcomers may have, as the cutscenes are not at all explanatory, missing out a magnitude of information that may explain exactly why you are fighting your enemy in the first place, let alone who your enemy is. Due to this there is no way for DBZ virgins to understand what is going on. This is a disappointment as it immediately revokes any pull that the game may have had on newcomers to the series. Furthermore, while on the topic of cutscenes, in addition to them being incoherent, most of them aren't really that good either. The syncing of the dubbed English over the moving of the Japanese mouths is done horribly, as sentences seem to finish before the mouth has stopped moving. This was never an issue in the anime series and it is with dismay that fans will look upon this. Also, the delivery of some lines during the cutscenes is weak. The correct emotion evades the actors for most of the instances and this is simply annoying.

Burst Limit is of course a game, not a TV programme or movie, and so this maybe forgiven if everything else works out perfectly. Unfortunately it doesn't as Burst Limit shows signs of shoddiness in a lot of its delivery. Graphically the character models are amazingly accurate as a mixture of 3D and cel-shading brings Goku and his friends to life, providing the closest recreation ever in a DBZ videogame. The special moves pulled off by the characters are also beautifully portrayed as the screen is filled with a plethora of colours that almost makes up for some of the lows elsewhere in the game. However, the graphics aren't all rosy unfortunately. Where they fall short is the stages or levels themselves. In fighting games the stage itself is in fact a character of sorts. If this is true then Burst Limit's stages are dead characters. The surrounding area is but a backdrop, like a picture stuck on to a wall. The lack of interaction with the scenery, in fact there is none, is a huge disappointment as I had expected at least some terrain deformation. In fact you don't even touch the terrain as the stage will not be all the area you see before you as you are limited to a certain area by invisible walls. This constitutes lazy programming on the developer's part in my opinion. Even in DBZ Budokai there was terrain deformation and the ability to knock your opponent into another part of the stage . Although you can take to the air in all stages, this limited battle area hampers the whole idea of DBZ, you don't have a whole planet to fight on, just an enclosed space.

The characters may look great, but the background in game is pretty disappointing.

Despite these aforementioned flaws, Burst Limit is in fact a great game. Yes that's right, the gameplay itself is amazingly satisfying. The speed at which fights take place is super-quick and may even make your eyes water. Also as I mentioned, the colours on display during the fight, when special moves or aura spark mode (more on that later) are invoked are breathtakingly beautiful. The fighting mechanic is simple with your normal attack assigned to one button, heavy attack to another and energy (or ki) blast to another. Different mixes of the heavy and light attack will provide you with combos and moving the directional buttons or analog sticks in different directions and pressing the energy blast button will summon your special moves. It's a shame that there is a lack of combos to perform however, and seeing the same animations over and over may prove boring for a number of gamers (the amount of special attacks are also limited).

Apart from attacks you can also dodge or parry anything aimed at you with another button click. This will also sometimes teleport you behind your enemy (at the expense of a piece of your energy bar). Your energy bar is what will allow you to perform your special moves, like Goku's trademark Kamehameha attack. Different moves require more energy, the most taking up all 5 bars available. Apart from special moves, energy is also used to power up your attacks. At the press of a button your energy will be unleashed and increase all your attack's damages. Finally, some characters have various transformations that can also be activated at the mere click of a button (like the famous Super Saiyan transformation), which will also power up your attacks. Despite the lack of moves that a player can pull off, the game can become very complex and there is enough depth to the fighting for most fans of the genre (nowhere near the depth of say Tekken or Soul Calibur though).

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