Review

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z Review

  • Game release: January 28, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3
  • X360

It's well below 9000.

Dragon Ball is one of those properties that's had its ups and downs when it comes to game adaptations. And when I say downs, I'm talking about pretty incredible lows: bottom-of-the-barrel material like Ultimate Battle 22 and Final Bout that frequently turns up on "worst games ever" lists. But it's had some highlights, too: The Budokai series made a lot of fans happy, hitting on a formula that satisfied what buyers crave from an anime-flavored fighter: a comprehensive cast, true-to-the-source visuals, and fighting that made you feel like a hyper-powered Super Saiyan.

Sadly, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is not Budokai, instead following in the underwhelming footsteps of more recent DBZ efforts like DBZ Kinect. It's a confused, overly chaotic mission-based action game that tries to recreate the team-based camaraderie oft seen in its source material, but more often than not falls flat on its face.

"You wouldn't believe it! It was thiiiiiiiiis big!"

Battle of Z offers three gameplay modes: a single-player, mission-based story mode that follows the various story arcs seen in the anime/manga series, a co-op multiplayer mode, and a versus mode. The multiplayer modes become available after playing a short ways into the single-player mode, but you'll probably want to play through a good amount of single-player to unlock characters, items, and status-augmenting cards you can equip on your Z fighters before going online. I say "going online" because there is no local multiplayer available: if you want to play with friends, you must play online.

You'll jump into single-player mode first--since you don't really have much choice. Once you navigate through confusingly-designed menus and get into the actual game, you immediately notice that while the character models themselves look fantastic, the environments are sparse and dull. To be fair, the anime wasn't exactly known for its lushly illustrated backdrops, but the fighting arenas in Battle of Z rarely go past the likes of "craggy, rock-laden environment" on the inspiration scale. You'll also likely struggle with the controls, which map everything to buttons that don't really make a lot of sense (such as ascending and descending via the face buttons), and have you executing special skills with further badly-thought-out button combinations.

Once you achieve some measure of competency with the controls, however, you start to see the way combat flows in the game. You and a posse of pals (either human or AI-controlled) zip around arenas pummeling waves of foes with your various superpowered attacks until you've finished them all off. Cooperation amongst your team is key: players can give and share energy and revive fallen teammates, as well as coordinate to execute high-damage team attacks like the meteor chain, which ping-pongs an opponent between fighters. Characters fall into four types--melee, support, ki blast, and interference--which helps determine both the effects and the effectiveness of their individual skills. Individual characters can also receive bonuses and special abilities through equipped cards and items, which can be either won during missions or purchased with points earned throughout the game.

Which episode was it where everyone discovered augmenting their powers with cards, again?

The team-based focus is an interesting idea, but it just feels messy in practice, mainly because Battle of Z's combat feels unfocused on many levels. You have a decent arsenal of attacks at your disposal, but for most characters, only a few of these skills are actually effective in dealing damage to foes--the rest exist solely to help you regain meter to execute the aforementioned effective strikes. It leads to a frustrating cycle in which you try to land basic hits on an enemy to replenish SP energy--which can be quite difficult on some of the bosses--in order to actually perform the attacks needed to cause significant damage, all while your AI teammates seem to have no idea what they're actually trying to accomplish. Sometimes even knowing what you're trying to accomplish is hard enough--the camera can be dizzying, target lock-ons drop or fall behind objects for no good reason, and oftentimes there's just so many ki strikes and special attacks and characters flying in from offscreen that it's difficult to get a handle on just what the heck is actually happening.

Ultimately, every moment in Battle of Z feels is a struggle--not to overcome challenges, but simply to enjoy the game. After you wrestle with the controls and menus, you're faced with stage timers and tedious encounters in which you deal piddling amounts of damage with each attack, all the while battling a targeting system that actively hates you, and AI teammates dead set on not helping you when it matters most. Dragonball Z is all about straining, training, and eventually overcoming unfathomably powerful foes, but this is not so much an entertaining depiction of developing your latent talents as much as it is a simulation of a year's intense training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.

It's a confused, overly chaotic mission-based action game that tries to recreate the team-based camaraderie oft seen in its source material, but more often than not falls flat on its face.

You don't have to complete the missions alone; you can gather a group of online warriors together to attempt the game's tougher missions. Unfortunately, even a god-level Super Saiyan cannot overcome the overwhelming power of lag, which is common enough to ruin a sizable chunk of attempted multiplayer sessions. This goes for the multiplayer versus fights as well. It's hard to get a good rapport going, even with skilled, involved teammates, when every action taken just seems to be straining to make its way through a series of tubes into our consoles.

There are some other complaints to be levied here--such as every transformation being a separate character variant rather than a state you can enter mid-battle. But what ultimately sinks Battle of Z isn't the little fan nitpicks, it's just ill-conceived design as a whole. It's certainly not the worst DBZ game ever released, but if there's ever been a statement that's damning with faint praise, that would be it.

The Good
Lots of character customization options
Character visuals capture the feel of the original anime
The Bad
Combat controls are confusing and generally feel ineffective
Often difficult to tell what's going on in fights
Lag is a consistent problem in online modes
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Heidi believes in giving every game a fair shake, and anime licensed games should be no different. After all, Treasure made some pretty slick Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho fighters, and Capcom's take on Jojo's Bizarre Adventure introduced her to one of her favorite manga series. Battle of Z, however, is something she'd just like to never have to touch again.

Discussion

49 comments
rafayabubakar
rafayabubakar

It hate this game. I just played it one time :|

Mefistus
Mefistus

Dragon ball Zenkai battle looks way better.

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

Still more of a value than Ground Zeroes. This and Ninja Gaiden's scores add up to that paid demo, isn't that unfair?

07wintert
07wintert

final bout was first i played ,burst limit and raging blast were the last and its still going on. the same elements over and over again. 

Masenkoe
Masenkoe

tfw we will never get a BT4 or BT HD collection

rasterror
rasterror

They just need to release Raging Blast 3. This game is just a mess and is ridiculously difficult for no reason.

feared4power
feared4power

they need a DBZ game similar to the NUNS game.

KostasFavatas
KostasFavatas

well...this is not a That bad game...if you are a DBZ fan you will possibly like it..i liked it..it was better than DBZ: Ultimate Tenkaichi...Much better..it also has Goku SSGod and Bills...

chev9342
chev9342

Namco Bandai, can we please get a online version of the only good DBZ fighting game, Super Dragon Ball Z?

solidreaper85
solidreaper85

I really haven't played much DBZ other than Final Bout wich for it's time was the best thing for a DBZ videogame kinda sad but now i pay no mind to them cause bad score or good score the core mechanics of DBZ will always be what every game made has some bad some good but still the DBZ experience

Hurvl
Hurvl

This game seems bad, which is sad.


Vegeta: Sad for yooouuuu!

Shivatin
Shivatin

Got it for $20 on Vita and i'm loving it just for the fact I can play it anywhere. As for the 360 version, not so enthused because as a console game, it fails...

FojMohsin
FojMohsin

I think Battle of Z had a little potential but it was wasted due to its super hard battles and lack of characters during story battles. Like we don't have the characters unlocked that are suppose to be in the story battle. I wish they bring back Budokai Tenkaichi or maybe Raging Blast.

bluebird08
bluebird08

Some body really needs to make a GOOD DBZ game in present time.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

They're -still- making these games?  DBZ hasn't been relevant for at least 10-15 years.

robbiejones
robbiejones

Gamespot gives Rambo a 6 and Dragon ball z a 4??... Yes gamespot...yes.

mkdms14
mkdms14

Didn't this game come out over a month ago?  Why is it we are now seeing a review for this game?  It got bad reviews then and it got a bad review now this is one of those game that if you didn't review when it first was released you could of just skipped.

mirage_so3
mirage_so3

Why do they keep doing this? Not one of them has been rated very good.

ziproy
ziproy

They still make these games?? Is this show still relevant??

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Isn't this exactly like another recent (last couple years anyway) DBZ game that also scored terribly...?  I think it was a Kinect exclusive back then though...

The_Micksta
The_Micksta

Time to play BudoKai 3 on the PS2 again. 

stackomcmuffin
stackomcmuffin

I actually had fun playing the game on the Vita!

The_Micksta
The_Micksta

I had gut feeling that this new DBZ battle of Z would get a low score sadly, I got it still just for my DBZ collection of games, dvd's series and T-shirts. They should make a new DBZ game based around DBZ BudoKai 3. 

NTM23
NTM23

Well... At least it's better than the PlayStation one. I have no interest in this, but thought I'd comment on it anyways.

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

I don't know what anybody expected.


Honestly, they should probably just give up at this point.  Even the good games in this series aren't that good...I'm speaking as a fan, too.  They ought to pull a South Park and let someone like Obsidian create a decent game out of the series

jameshubert12
jameshubert12

wow dbz takes me back to my childhood days, i just cant believe they are still making this though... move on namco and bandai, make something new, the games they make are revamps... come up with something new not old...

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

Things that suck. The fact that playing coop online, people who join your session during the beginning can pick characters like Bill, God Goku, SS2 Vegeta....and this is during the first mission against people like Raditz.

Targeting still sucks. Someone that's in a certain angle above or below you can't be hit by certain attacks and techniques even though you have them locked in.

Lag is a constant issue.  

Everyone has one melee combo that gets old and repetitive.

One of my personal issues is that Freiza has a new voice as well as a few other characters.

This review is pretty accurate.

chev9342
chev9342

@KostasFavatas Don't give me that "if you're a fan of DBZ" crap. If you're a REAL fan of DBZ would want a good DBZ game period.

rasterror
rasterror

@pyosisified Raging Blast and Raging Blast 2. Easily the two best DBZ games by a trip from Earth to Namek.

Gabe_Logan_666
Gabe_Logan_666

@jinzo9988  Except for the fact that there was just a movie released in Japan called Battle of Gods that came out last year and broke box office records. Dragon Ball Z is still also one of the most popular anime series to date so it is still very much relevant.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@robbiejones Reviews are the work of individuals. What one reviewer thought of X doesn't necessarily reflect on what another reviewer thought of game Y. In this instance, Heidi did not think highly of game Z. So to speak.

MajinSquall
MajinSquall

@robbiejones  i know right yeah Battle of Z isn't a great game but Rambo was a mess, still this is gamespot and there review scores have never been that accurate the review itself is normally good but the score never seems to reflect it properly


also Battle of Z is a lot of fun playing co-op with friends

sahar90900
sahar90900

@shureshot24  Oh dear Budokai 3 and Budokai Tenkaichi 3 , will there ever be a new decent and fun DBZ game to stand in your side? 

Raxyman
Raxyman

@Xyekenvort There are controversies...
Wait, are you talking about Budokai only or Budokai Tenkaichi?

robbiejones
robbiejones

@Lhomity @robbiejones  well yeah, just saying the person who gave Rambo a 6 was on crack or something because we've seen some great games get that score and it's just a big FUCK U to the fans of those particular games etc.. Luigi mansion 2 - 6, resident evil revelations HD - 6, Donkey Kong tropical freeze - 6 and then Rambo- 6...WTF! 

Lhomity
Lhomity

@robbiejones @LhomityI bought Rambo. I don't think it was good. I don't think it was bad. Just a mediocre on-rails shooter with some ugly graphics and a weird co-op mode. But it's a cheap game with an obviously low budget and it delivers pretty much what anybody could ever expect of an on-rails shooter with Rambo. If, hypothetically, I cared enough about 'scores', I would probably give it a 5/10.


When a reviewer doesn't share whatever happens to be "popular opinion" about something, it doesn't mean he/she is on crack. We all have different tastes and expectations about games.


Yeah, I know some fans of things can't tolerate anybody expressing opinions that differ from theirs, and sometimes they get really defensive and sometimes even attack reviewers and other people over the internet for disagreeing with them. People are weird like that.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox 360
    Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z is a fighting game that features a large cast of playable characters, including Goku, Piccolo, and Vegeta, and a variety of melee and famous attacks, including the Kamehameha, Special Beam Cannon, and Spirit Bomb.
    7.8
    Average User RatingOut of 66 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
    Developed by:
    Artdink
    Published by:
    Bandai Namco Games, Namco Bandai Games
    Genres:
    Action, Fighting, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes