Fists Of Fury For DBZ Fans
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GiN has looked at a lot of Dragon Ball Z titles over the years, and they all have been pretty good, especially if you happen to be a fan of the TV show. But Dragon Ball Raging Blast is probably the end all-be all of the series. Not only does it feature an excellent fighting interface that offers a lot of strategy and tactics (not something we normally find in karate fighters) but it also delves deeply into the world of Dragon Ball, dispelling some of the mystery for those who haven't kept up on the complex storylines.
At its heart, this is a one on one combat fighting game, not unlike Street Fighter or Tekken. You are given a 3D world to battle in, and a lot of the environment is breakable, or seems so when someone smacks against it. You can drive your opponents into the ground for example, and little craters will form around them. Or you can toss them through lampposts, which will topple them. The action is fast and furious, and not for the faint of heart or those who have trouble with these types of games. I would say that this is one of the more advanced fighters I've played.
Thankfully there is a tutorial that takes you through the moves, taught by Piccolo, no not King Piccolo, the nice version that comes after King Piccolo is defeated. You are taught how to move, how to target, how to throw blasts of energy and how to use your super moves. Super moves are the ones that create nuclear blast like effects that somehow only seem to wound an opponent, given how tough the Dragon Ball fighters are. On the PS3 you even get a trophy for completing the training, which takes about 20 minutes.
The thing about Raging Blast is that different fighters have different abilities. You can stack the deck of certain fighters with different moves to fit your play style, whether you like to punch and kick, keep enemies at a distance or try to charge up your powers for a super move. Some fighters are even adept at countering, so the possibilities are practically endless as to which way a fight will go.
Once you start fighting, the areas themselves are a real joy to explore. You might find yourself battling in the clouds, or inside a building, or even underwater. Location does not seem to have much of an effect on your powers, but it does look cool. And you can use terrain features to do things like hide from an opponent. I hid underwater once long enough to charge my ki, so I could unleash a special move. Given that you are vulnerable when charging, I found this to be a good strategy, though smart opponents could use a homing power to find me.
Graphically, the game looks good, and follows the lead of the cartoon. The animation is identical to what you see on TV. So if you like that anime style, you are in luck.
The sound is a bit of a mixed bag, but I gave it a high rating because it too follows the cartoon with music and dialog matching what you will find there. I'm not a big fan of either on TV, but given that the game matches it, then it did what it set out to do. I just think the dialog is a little comical. A perfect example is in training when your character says "I can feel a great power inside me, and it's growing!" to which your trainer says something like. "great, now work that until you become a master." Talk about a double entendre.
Besides the one on one fighting arena and the training dojo, there is a story mode that is really amazing for Dragon Ball fans. You get to follow the various storylines put forward in the cartoon, playing sometimes as the good guys and sometimes as the bad. You are told historically what happens too, so you know what to expect, though you still have to win the fight to advance.
In addition to the main stories, you also are given "What-if" scenarios, which are a lot of fun. Every Dragon Ball fan has said "what if this guy wasn't defeated or this guy was evil or..." and the game does a pretty good job at guessing some of the more popular ones. So you get to fight battles that never actually happened, and see how that would have changed the world.
There is also a museum which I ended up spending a lot of time inside. Here you can read about each character's back story and try to make sense of the entire Dragon Ball world. It's always interesting when a bio starts out with "After they died in battle, they began training with their friend..." who also probably died at the same time. Villains are defeated and come back as not so bad guys. People die or are banished, only to come back as someone or something else. If you are a fledgling Dragon Ball fan or simply confused about some aspect of the story, here is where you can dispel a lot of the mystery. My only complaint is that over half the characters are locked at first inside the museum, so you can't even see them. You have to unlock them in the story missions before you can research their history. I would think that the museum would have all the info from the start.
Of course you can play online against others, which is really the heart of the game. On the PS3 network I had no problem finding hundreds of opponents, most of which promptly handed me my hat as they gave me a serious beat down. But I won a few bouts too, and with more play could probably win more. There is more to this game than just mashing buttons. You have to also master the tactics of the fight. There is a lot to it, but it can be rewarding if you want to put in the time.
A final note is that everything about Dragon Ball Raging Blast is high quality. The presentation of the menus looks great. Even the load screens feature a mini game where you can earn points by chasing down little floating bombs in the sky as you wait for your selected game option to load up.
As a starting point for Dragon Ball fans, Raging Blast is a godsend with its advanced encyclopedia of characters. It's probably not a great starting point for those new to fighters though, as the combats can get pretty complex. A mode where your opponent just stands there and lets you test out new moves on him really saves it from being ranked as difficult. As it is, it's still moderately hard.
I really enjoyed Dragon Ball Raging Blast, and look forward to this winter when Raging Blast 2 is expected.
Dominic reviews odd games for GiN that don't exactly fit into main categories. He loves the odds and ends of the industry, and sometimes finds a real gem.