Dragon Ball Z games have run the quality gamut from terrible to very good. Infinite World lands somewhere in between. There are only three main modes in Infinite World: Dragon Mission, Dragon Duel, and Fighter's Road. Dragon Mission is the game's story mode, taking you through the Z and Dragon Ball GT sagas in a condensing of hundreds of DBZ episodes. This amalgam covers all of the major battles including, those versus Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Buu, and more.
You guide Goku along an overwold map in order to trigger battles and minigames. You’re also free to replay earlier battles as an easy way to build up your bank account. Extra Zeni (money) can be used to purchase upgrades for you character in the Warrior’s Room shop. Short animated cutscenes from the anime play before and after every boss confrontation and give you an indication of what's going on in the story, but they won't make a great deal of sense if you've never watched the show. The bosses get increasingly difficult as you progress through the story mode, but for the most part they play similarly, and your strategy for taking down two different bosses like Vegeta or Frieza won't differ very much.
A smattering of minigames allow you to experience cherished scenes from the anime such as guiding Goku along Snake Way, capturing Bubbles the monkey, and other memorable moments that don't involve outright combat. Unfortunately, these side minigames are poorly designed and overly simplistic. The mission on Snake Way, for instance, has you running along the winding path moving from checkpoint to checkpoint. Another minigame has you training Goku in your space capsule by hitting a series of button combinations. It may be nice fan service, but these minigames really only serve to bring the combat to a grinding halt without being entertaining enough to justify the interruption.
Dragon Duel is the two-player versus mode in Infinite World. You can fight a friend or computer opponent with any of the game's more than 40 warriors. You have the option of playing as any of the fighters, either without their more powerful skills and attacks or with customized power-ups you can purchase from the Warrior's Room shop. Fighter's Road is a secret mode you can unlock after playing Dragon Mission, pitting you against more than 100 opponents across four maps. It's similar to Dragon Mission mode in that you guide a character from fight to fight on an overworld map, but it also provides you with an opportunity to unlock new warriors and earn more Zeni.
Despite the prevalence of minigames in Dragon Mission mode, Infinite World is still all about the combat. You fly around a battlefield with your opponent and exchange a variety of Ki beam blasts, grapples, and melee combos. You have a healthy variety of attacks, a Ki Burn ability that gives you increased speed and strength for a short period of time in exchange for Ki energy, and the ability to transform into a Super Saiyan. You can speed burst around the battlefield, but you'll have to use it wisely and avoid taking too many hits since they contribute to a fatigue meter. Once the fatigue meter reaches full capacity, it will temporarily stun you, leaving you defenseless against devastating combos and also downgrading you from an advanced form like Super Saiyan back to your default form. Overall, though, the battles are fast paced, the AI is relentless, and winning takes quite a bit of skill and strategy since not effectively evading attacks, Ki charging, or Ki burning will result in an easy defeat.
Those compliments aside, there are a few issues with the battle system. The AI is exceedingly difficult, even at the "Easy" and "Very Easy" difficulty settings. The computer opponents are just as fast and bloodthirsty, no matter what difficulty setting the game is set at. The only differences between easy and hard are how quickly your health depletes, how long it takes to recharge your Ki, and how long you stay fatigued. Still, you will have many fights that challenge your patience and tempt you to chuck your Dual Shock at a nearby wall.
Battles become more manageable when you buy advanced skills and abilities from the Warrior's Room. For each battle in the game--even those that you lose--you will earn Zeni that can be used to buy stronger Ki attacks, items such as Senzu beans that recharge your health in battle, and attributes like Fighter's Body that increase your base health. The system works fine, as long as you edit your character before going into battle and assign those acquired abilities to your few allotted slots.
The problem comes in knowing how to do this and in what abilities to purchase. At one point, Infinite World alerts you that you can purchase things from the Warrior's Room, but it provides no tutorial explaining how the system works or how the abilities benefit you. The Warrior's Room is also located on the main menu, forcing you to leave Dragon Mission mode in order to use the Zeni you earn. At first glance, you wouldn't think the two are so dependent on each other; but when your opponents in Dragon Mission suddenly possess twice as much health and strength the Warrior's Room becomes invaluable.
Infinite World will strike up feelings of deja vu for those who've played DBZ: Budokai 3. That shouldn't come as a surprise since both games were developed by Dimps. Unfortunately for Budokai 3 fans, Infinite World lacks a couple of the best fighting mechanics from its predecessor, namely the Beam Struggles and Dragon Rushes. Those two features were integral in making Budokai 3 a critical success because they helped re-create the intense power struggles that are so central to the drama of the DBZ anime. Considering how much Infinite World feels like a sequel to that game, you will likely get the disappointing feeling that this is a neutered expansion pack.
Infinite World looks as good as any other DBZ game on the PS2. The overworld map is a bit bland, as is the level design in the minigames that are scattered through Dragon Mission. In that battles themselves, though, the colors of the characters, transformations, and Ki blasts are lush and vibrant. The soundtrack is a bit ordinary, but you can choose between the English and Japanese voice tracks that DBZ purists will surely appreciate.
While its budget price may make Infinite World a tempting purchase, previous DBZ games on the PS2 have tread this ground already, and have done so with much more robust fighting systems. You would be better off revisiting Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, a superior game where the series' fast-paced combat was used to much better effect.