Hands-On Preview of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2

Recently, Atari sent us a copy of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2. The sequel to the popular DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi game, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 takes gamers back into the Dragon Ball Z world in what may be the best Dragon Ball themed game yet.

Like its predecessor, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is-at its core-a fighting game. Unlike most conventional fighters, though, this game features extremely large stages in which to fight. On the ground, in the air, in the water-you can fight on almost any surface in any level. To go along with the beautiful environments is environmental damage. As you pound your opponent across the landscape, hitting them hard enough will send them flying. If you send them flying towards a wall, pillar, house or any other object, they’ll smash into it, causing more damage.

What may draw gamers to this title at first is the insane amount of characters present in it. With over 100 characters from DBZ, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 presents what may be the largest roster of playable characters in a fighting game yet. For you DBZ purists out there, you’ll be glad to know that in normal versus fights, you have the option of keeping characters at their “normal” levels. This means that the difference between the strongest and weakest fighters is insane. How insane, you may ask?

I put some considerable time into playing this preview, and I considered myself fairly good at the game (days of playing and little sleep will do that to you). Feeling cocky, I challenged another staffer to a 1-on-1 battle, and told him he could pick any-and I meant any-character for himself, and mine as well. He ended up picking Perfect Cell, and for me guess who he picked? That’s right, Hercule. “No problem,” I thought. “Even though Hercule is way weaker in the show, I should be able to come out of this with a win.” Wrong. For almost half an hour I pounded Perfect Cell with every attack in my arsenal, ranging from MAX combos to throwing large rocks at him. Despite this, he ended up with only 1/4 of his original life bar missing. Less than ten hits later, and Hercule was no more.

Now, for some people this may put them off of a title. But for fans of the show, seeing a game which actually stays relatively true to the original content is great. Just keep in mind, you may not want to let your friends pick your fighters if any money is on the line.

One of the better features in the game-and another one DBZ fans will love-is the campaign-like story mode, titled Dragon Adventure. In this, you’ll be able to pick from a number of scenarios (depending on what you have and haven’t beaten) from the DBZ storyline. From the original Saiyan Saga to Gogeta, almost every major DBZ plot is included in the game.

After picking which story to go through, you’ll be taken to a menu where you can select which portion of the story to play. At first, you’ll only be able to play what you’ve beaten or unlocked. After you’ve completed events, however, you’re free to go back to any saga you wish, and play any specific portion. This is great for people who want to relive certain fights for fun. Once you select your portion of the story to play, you’re shown some scenes explaining the situation, and off you go.

The way you move through the basic story-mode is simple: your character will appear on a world-map (which is just as nice-looking as the fighting maps), and by flying around and entering marked areas, you’ll either trigger a fight, a cutscene or some other event. Depending on what portion of the adventure you’re currently playing through, you’ll take control of different characters. For example, at the beginning of the Saiyan Saga you’ll start off as Piccolo, and then for the next fight you’ll switch to a tag-team combination of Goku and Krillin. Switching characters like this is a nice refresher from the standard “one campaign, one character” mentality in most fighting games these days, and honestly, I can’t think of a way a game relying so heavily on the DBZ story could do without it.

There is one downside, though. No matter what you do in certain situations, the plot will obviously never change. It may not seem like much, but it just feels odd completely destroying your opponent, only to be rewarded with a cutscene explaining how your Z fighter was no match for the enemy, and luckily escaped with his life.

As you play through the plotted events, you’ll also be able to enter sidequests and complete objectives not in the DBZ canon. Most of them are nothing too exciting, but for a DBZ fan, it can be fun seeing what could have happened just before Gohan fought Cell, or how other characters reacted to the events unfolding around them.

You’ll also unlock items during your trials. There are two types of items: ability items and skill items. Ability items increase your attributes, ranging from Ki to your character’s speed. Skill items give upgraded or new skills to the character equipping the object, such as an improved lock-on range. When you equip items to your character, you’ll be increasing their power level; in many fights, the right choice of items will be very instrumental in determining the outcome. Evolution Z-as the item equipping customization is called-is available in all forms of combat, and really adds a lot to character customization, as the number of combinations possible with the varying items is staggering.

Of course, the core of any fighting game is the combat, and Budokai Tenkaichi 2 delivers. Fans of old-school fighting games may find themselves overwhelmed, as some of the combos are insanely difficult to pull off. From the varying levels of energy blasts, special moves, grabs, strikes and defensive maneuvers, those who put time into the game will be far better than the pick-up-and-play crowd. The combat is fast-paced, and countering attacks can be a huge adrenaline rush. If you consider yourself a fighting game fan and have been looking for a new challenge, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 may be one of the more challenging fighters yet.

With the game releasing in the coming weeks, DBZ fans won’t have to wait much longer to play Budokai Tenkaichi 2. From what we’ve played and seen so far, the wait has been well worth it.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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