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Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit
Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Atari
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit feels like an amalgamation of the various other Dragon Ball Z fighters that have come out, and they are definitely taking a lot from the license's long-lasting Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi series.

The game's graphical style just screams next-gen as it is the first DBZ title to make it to the new platforms (if you don't count Budokai Tenckaichi 2 and 3 for the Wii, which were little more than ports). The smooth lines and clean cel-shading are just gorgeous. While this game doesn't sport the sheer number of characters that the Tenkaichi line does, it instead focuses on 20 or so fighters and does them well.

As always, sound is good quality as well. All of the characters are voiced by the same actors from the series and the sound effects and music feel like they come from the show as well. One of the things I really liked about this game was the special attention that went into banter between specific pairs of characters. For instance, with the partner system Burst Limit has, characters can appear to egg on or support your fighter when certain conditions are met (more on that later). If you choose Raditz as Goku's partner, then when he comes out to support Goku, he will yell out "You are a pathetic Saiyan Kakarot" to which Goku replies with "Shut up, my name is Goku" or "I don't need your help" and the character gets a bit of a power boost. I was really impressed with the variety of statements this game posed based on the different combinations.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit's various modes of gameplay include the standard Training, Versus and Tutorial modes, but its story mode (this time titled Z Chronicles) is where you will play through many of the major fights from Raditz's arrival to the end of the Cell Saga (hopefully future releases will go all the way through Buu's Saga).

In Z Chronicles, you will jump from fight to fight with very little story explanation (so those not familiar with the storyline of the show should be wary of starting with this game). But there are a few aspects of this mode that I really liked. Besides the fact that it is here where you will unlock characters and Drama Pieces (characteristics you add to your fighter to help you in the battle), but each saga has a summary for how you fared in each battle and on which difficulty settings you fought it in. Basically, at the end of each fight, you are given a long list of scores based on how the fight went down. If you made the first hit, if you won in less than 90 seconds, if you performed an ultimate attack, etc. This screen is available to be viewed in the Saga Summary screen. This was just one of the many pieces of polish that makes this game shine.

The Story Mode is the only one where you don't have the privilege of setting your partner character and Drama Pieces. These two new features actually go hand-in-hand. Like I said, Drama Pieces are items you attach to your fighter to be used under specific conditions. For instance, under the right circumstance, your partner will jump in front of a Ki blast, or your fighter will realize the opponent's true strength and get fired up, thus having an increase in power. While you can't activate these Drama Pieces specifically, you can look up what conditions will set it off. For instance, one piece might have your health at 25% while your Ki is full and you are on the ground; each one is different and will help you in different ways.

Trial Mode is broken into three types: Survival, Time Attack and Battle Point. Survival throws opponent after opponent at you just to see how long you last. While enjoyable, I found that I never could bring myself to play until I was beaten naturally. Eventually I always gave up and let one of the opponents beat me up just so I could play some other mode. Time Attack puts you up against a specific set of opponents and sees how fast you can beat them, while Battle Point charges you with getting the most points as possible.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit has an interesting approach to difficulty, at least when it comes to the game's Z Chronicles mode. Each fight in the story mode can be started at one of six difficulty settings (the last three must be unlocked). There is a noticeable difference in each of the difficulty settings. I definitely found the ones set to a higher level to be harder to take out, and it wasn't in an annoying factor like spamming ultimate attacks or just keeping their guard up; they seemed to just be able to react faster.

The interesting aspect is that each battle's difficulty can be set independently of the rest of the scenarios. Basically, that means that you can make a particular fight easier than the others you've been playing and then go right back up to your higher level afterwards. What I like about this is that the Saga Summary screens will keep track of your score for not just each fight, but for each difficulty setting in each fight. This way you can see how much better you are on the easier fights or with certain characters.

Game Mechanics:
Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit pretty much takes its control scheme from the Budokai games, so anyone already familiar with that layout on the PS2 should have no problem jumping in and kicking some alien butt. What I found refreshing was the sheer lack of complexity. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Budokai Tenkaichi 3, but it just seems like every release from that line just adds more and more to the game, and while that means more characters, it also means more mechanics and things you have to keep track of. While the other line has several moments where you will have to spin analogue sticks or tap buttons in a certain order, the only real time I saw this type of feature in Burst Limit is when both fighters have to mash all the face buttons quickly in order to win a power struggle.

One thing I can say about Burst Limit, and that's the fact that it is designed for existing fans. Anyone hoping to use this new release as a place to jump into the series without prior knowledge might find the game very frustrating. The Story Mode doesn't do anything to explain the events of the show, it is just a select few fights taken almost out of context, and the complexity of some of the moves are best left to those that have worked their way through the many other DBZ fighters that have come before. Also, any hardcore fan looking for the next "complete" fighting game will also be disappointed since this game only boasts some 20 characters and only goes to the end of the Cel Saga. That being said, if you are just looking for a good DBZ fighter that really does the PS3 justice, then Burst Limit is worth looking into.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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