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Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit

The world is dying. Humanity stumbles on the brink of extinction like a frail, withering and savagely beaten veteran of the battlefield. Once great, it seems the ever-persisting wrath of space’s super villains has finally turned the tide of galactic warfare unfavourably into the sadistic grip of those we all fear. Mankind lives no more. That is, if Goku doesn’t have something to say about it. If humanity needs a hero, you can bet your life-savings that he will stand up to the challenge. Take down those white flags people, the Dragon Ball Z franchise has landed on the 360 in superb form, proving the fight for Earth is worth enduring once more.

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You know, many people will overlook this title on the over-crowded gaming radar. With many of the big releases hitting shelves recently, you could be forgiven for not planning to play a beat ‘em up based on the iconic series. It would be foolish to assume that this is a game released predominantly to rake in the cash of the cartoon hungry youth. The truth is, this title offers a brilliantly stylish, accessible, and hugely enjoyable experience for fans and newcomers alike.

As with the entire Dragon Ball Z animé series and collection of games, the visual impact it has is truly staggering. Burst Limit isn’t any different, as a wealth of vibrant colours and superb art direction propel this game to one of the most beautiful seen this year. Characters fly around their surroundings in am impressively breath-taking manner. If you’ve never seen the series and have played Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King, you will know what I’m talking about. Characters come to life in an unimaginably believable and lovable fashion, especially as it is a cartoon. We’ve seen it before from previous releases in the series, although this time the appearance is covered in gloss and sheen as the 360’s graphical power enables the franchise’s appearance to echo a supermodel putting on make up for a night out in paradise.

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“As with the entire Dragon Ball Z animé series and collection of games, the visual impact it has is truly staggering”The beautiful visuals aren’t the only punch this title packs however. Throw some excellently crafted combat into the mix and the game really begins to build into planet-saving shape. Although controls have become much simpler than previous Dragon Ball Z games, they are still extremely well crafted. Huge moves can be pulled off from the press of a button, making this title accessible to those new to the genre. This simplistic style also ensures that encounters are full of energy and immense pace, insisting that they mimic the battles from the cartoon series in a way that has never fully been matched before. It really is impressive in full flow, even if battles begin to feel hugely similar after wading through the main single player campaign, the aptly named “Z Chronicles”.

Impressively, there are six difficulty settings for players to tackle the Z Chronicles on, ensuring that the hardcore players are suitably catered for. To many non-fans, the narrative isn’t going to make much sense. From a newcomer’s point of view, each saga available to battle through began to seem largely similar to the last, as a struggle for the freedom of Earth ultimately comes into play one way or another. Players can live out classic scenarios from the Saiyan, Frieza and Cell sagas, each with a decent number of fights in. The Cell saga in itself boasts twenty-five encounters, each penned into the history of Dragon Ball in some way.

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“The final battles are absolutely brilliant, most notably Goku’s showdown with the fully transformed Frieza”New to the series is the inclusion of “Drama Pieces”. These are short snippets of scripted dialogue that follow a certain trend of events. For example, get beaten too heavily and one of your comrades is likely to jump in and take a blow for you. These are a nice idea, but once you have seen them all, they begin to slow the relentless combat down to a stop-start pace. Thankfully, once out of the Z Chronicles these can be turned off, ensuring that the speed of fighting is full steam ahead once more. More optimistically, the final battles are absolutely brilliant, most notably Goku’s showdown with the fully transformed Frieza. This is where the game excels, creating stunning vistas for players to express their true fighting potential. For veterans of the series, only having three separate storylines and a maximum of twenty-one characters to chose from may be a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you consider that previous last-gen incarnations of the series boasted so much more content.

But it’s quality, not quantity right?

Certainly, to an extent. This is probably the finest fighter I have played so far this generation. With so many heart-stopping moments the charm is there in abundance, making it loveable for a wider gaming audience than it’s predecessors. Unfortunately however, Burst Limit does begin to fall short of some hurdles after playing it for a fair amount of time.

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Once the three sagas are complete, there is little else to wade through. Of course, the traditional versus and time trial modes are still in tact, but that is old news. Although they are decent time wasters for a short amount of time, there is nothing here that will drag the player back to take the test once more. Online play is inevitably included, but even that begins to suffer all too quickly.

“Unfortunately, it seems that this game’s accessibility offline works hugely against it when taking to the online stage”Unfortunately, it seems that this game’s accessibility offline works hugely against it when taking to the online stage. As the ultimate “Ki” draining manoeuvres are possible to pull off without needing any skill, many players will take advantage of this. If you can connect to a match this is. Trying to find someone of similar ability proved a chore here: even more so as fights are prone to match-breaking lag. As this title relies so heavily on timing rather than learning huge combos, this lag is incomprehensible. That’s not to say that when a good connection is established this game isn’t any fun, as that would be extremely wide of the mark. At a time where so many gamers are looking towards the world for competition, this title is slightly wide of the mark though, making it a decent experience that certainly can and will be missed by many.

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After the final battle has been fought, the fact remains that this is one excellently polished and solid fighting experience. With a distinct lack of beat ‘em ups on the market at the moment, there may be a chance for this one to take advantage. Fortunately, it seems Earth stands to live another day, at least until Street Fighter IV arrives with full force later in the year.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in September 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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