ragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is the latest in Atari's Dragon Ball Z fighting games. This one does a few things better than previous titles — and a few things worse.
Burst Limit follows the Dragon Ball story up to the end of the Cell Saga. Single-player mode focuses primarily on iconic battles seen in the anime. As players progress they unlock characters, allowing them to experience each fighter's style and use each one in versus mode.
Characters looks as though they've
stepped out of the TV screen.The first thing catching the eye is character detail. Characters look like perfect 3D versions of their animated forms. It's almost as if they stepped right out of the TV screen. The next thing that fans should notice is that most of the cutscenes appearing before and after battles in single-player are faithful to the anime. A lot of story, however, is missing. Fans, then, can fight through their favorite fights the way they want and miss little — but players who are new to Dragon Ball will quickly become confused about what's going on.
Music remains fairly varied; there are a few themes that are pretty annoying while most of the battle music is appropriately up-tempo. Nothing in particular stands out. Voice work is superb, thanks to Atari having once again used the voice talent of the actors who did the Dragon Ball animes. Lip-sync, on the other hand leaves much to be desired. There are plenty of instances where you hear voices and the lips aren't moving — or vice-versa.
Combat is fast-paced. Characters' special attacks are easy to perform as well as their many defensive measures. Defense relies upon various dodges, blocks, counters, and teleportations. While these moves may be easy to pull off they do require precise timing. This allows for a great deal of depth for those who show excellent skill in fighting games.
Characters are very well-balanced, with no one single character particularly dominating another one. There is also some tactical depth introduced by Drama Pieces — brief cinematics that appear during a fight when certain battle conditions are met. What each one does varies but almost all of them change the stats of their fighters for a short period of time. Unfortunately these cutscenes can't be slipped, and they quickly become annoying. On top of this Drama Pieces can only be earned during campaign, but the game offers no clue as to how Drama Pieces can be obtained until after they've already been obtained. Instead of being a rewarding experience for the player it becomes quite frustrating. Players have the option of turning Drama Pieces off, but only in versus mode.
Burst Limit does excel in online play. While playing online I encountered very little lag, even with players to whom I had a poor connection. The laggiest game that I had was with a person from Japan — and even then the match was still very playable (and a close one, to boot).
Precise timing is required.The only major issue is that Burst Limit feels unfinished. There are only six arenas and a little over 20 fighters. Compared to what has been available in previous games this seems like a bare-bones version. The impression of the game not being complete becomes even clearer when players unlock the story movies after the end of the Frieza and Cell Sagas. While these sequences do show a lot of the missing narrative they also show a lot of characters and areas that don't appear in the game. This could be frustrating for players who suspect Atari took the time to reference these characters but didn't include them in gameplay. If it rushed Burst Limit, however, Atari did have a legitimate reason: last year, FUNimation threatened to take the Dragon Ball license away from it.
There are a few more shortcomings but they are only a concern for fans of Dragon Ball and don't have a major impact on the rest of the game. If you're a Dragon Ball fan then I encourage you to go ahead and check this one out. If you're not then I'd suggest either waiting for Atari to actually finish Burst Limit or for the release of the next major fighting game.