Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 PlayStation 2
Developed by Dimps
Release Date: Out Now
The chances are in the future when gamers look back at the fighting games that appeared on the PlayStation 2, they'll think of the Tekken and Virtua Fighter games along with the great 2D games that Capcom have provided. It's a fair bet that most won't mention a game based on a cartoon. Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 deserves to be classed amongst the best fighting games on the PlayStation 2 and it will appeal to more than just fans of the TV show because there's an awful lot that the game does right. The Dragon Ball Z franchise has proved to be very popular over the years. With sales in excess of 5 million it can rightfully be classed as one of the most successful franchises in recent times. Of course a lot would argue that most of the previous Dragon Ball Z games have been disappointing and that they have sold on the strength of the TV shows popularity. That may be the case but Budokai 3 can justifiably be called a great game.
The game offers various modes that should prove to be popular. Dragon Universe allows you to pick a character (such as Goku, Kid Gohan, Krillin etc.) and progress from one battle to another, via the world map. The Dragon Universe mode is a kind of RPG which follows a story and allows you to level up your character. Completing the Dragon Universe mode with all of the characters will unlock the Dragon Arena which itself will allow you to unlock extra items. The World Tournament mode offers a variety of tournaments for you to take part in ranging from the Novice World Tournament to the Cell Games Tournament. There's also a Practice mode, that offers training and free practice and a Dueling mode for taking on your friends.
Of course the real core of the game is the fighting and Budokai 3 certainly offers some great over the top fighting action. You can teleport behind your opponent, which is a superb evasion manoeuvre. Of course this can be countered with your opponent teleporting behind you if he/she is quick enough. Energy attacks can also be made although they will use up your Ki, so it's not possible to overdo these moves. As you'll need your Ki to go into hyper mode you're not going to want to use it if needlessly if you can avoid doing so. Ki is also needed for transformations too which really makes your use of it as important as possible. Finishing moves and Dragon Rushes further add to the great combat system and make for one heck of an over the top fighting experience that few games have ever equalled.
Games based on TV shows are always under pressure, when it comes to the graphical side of things, to appear as authentic as possible. Budokai 3 does a great job and the characters look exactly how you would expect them to. The characters in the game are cel-shaded and look just like their TV counterparts. The environments you'll battle in are polygonal based and they look good. Some of the battle effects such as the transformations look impressive and the frame rate remains rock solid throughout even the most hectic of scenes, which is excellent. Some might complain at the lack of custom moves for each character but it's only a small niggle considering how much the game does right.
Deaf gamers will be able to completely enjoy Budokai 3. By default the game is subtitled. Virtually every item of speech within the game is subtitled which is very impressive. Even explanatory comments (such as when you highlight a mode and a voice tells you what that mode is about) on the main menu are shown in text. The games Practice mode which acts as a tutorial too, is subtitled so you'll be able to learn the moves the game has to offer. The Dragon Universe mode is subtitled so you'll be able to follow the story. The World Tournament mode has a few omissions such as some of the announcer's comments but for the most part there's no problems at all which is great news if you're a fan of Dragon Ball Z.
It's all too easy to dismiss games based on franchises as being average at best and relying on the popularity of the franchise in order to sell. Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 is one of the exceptions to this theory though and is not only an all round solid game but actually one of the more enjoyable fighting games on the PlayStation 2. Yes some of it's moves are way over the top for those who don't watch the TV show but it's truly engaging and offers lots of replay value. Let's hope this is the first of many quality Dragon Ball Z games to come because if it is, it's not only the fans of the franchise who will be eagerly awaiting future titles.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 is one of the biggest surprises of 2004. Forget the previous lacklustre games this is one very enjoyable fighting game that will even appeal to those who don't follow the TV show.
Absolutely fine for deaf gamers.