For the uninitiated, I've played a lot of DBZ games. Budokai, Tenkaichi, Burst Limit, Raging Blast, Sagas. Growing up as a fan, the promise of a fully fledged DBZ fighter was music to my ears. Yet, despite some great past efforts (Budokai 3 and Budokai Tenkaichi 3), one major feature was left out. I am, of course, referring to multiplayer battles. No, not the overdone 1-on-1 action, I mean 4 on 4 mayhem. Part of what made the anime series so great were the moments where everyone was fighting each other at once.
One major example during the show is when Goku and the gang take on the Ginyu Force during the Freeza saga. It's hard not to want friends play as Krillin and Gohan while you dish out some Kaio-ken action. Am I right? Such is the magic of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z.
The last few DBZ fighting games have focused less on depth and more on spectacle. At first, this approach pushed me away. But individuals have to remember a simple question: What makes a DBZ game great? The clear answer is flying around at top speed and feeling a super-human. This was the bar I set when first turning on Battle of Z. The demo showed off lightning-quick combat, even if it did feel a little over-simplified. One of the most enjoyable features was when Krillin and Gohan were exchanging conversation during the fight. This banter felt authentic and natural, bringing me closer to a player rather than an observer. Not to mention Krillin would have my back when I was attacked by a Saibamen. Coupled with the fast action, the gameplay felt authentic in a way that hasn't been seen in DBZ fighters.
Later on I was Kid Gohan and I played on a team with Yamcha, Tien and Krillin against four Piccolos. Things like chain attacks and synchro attacks added a great team element, not to mention it kept the gameplay fresh.
Unfortunately, there are a few gripes that certain fans have pointed out. No in-game transformations. This means that if you want to play as Super Saiyan Goku, you need to select him in the character select screen rather than transforming into him during the game. The other problem is the lack of offline multiplayer. There is no excuse for this and hopefully the online will be good enough to take away from this problem.
And that's the beauty of the game. You and your friends can fight together online, or against each other. This allows for dynamic battles, and a new way at approaching multiplayer fighters. Before anyone goes nuts, I know something like this has been done before. Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi Tag Team added 2 vs. 2 combat on the PSP. Well, this adds true online multiplayer, a bigger roster, and much more content.
With all that aside, if you're a DBZ fan, you need this game. Battle of Z may be simple, but its fun and fluid. I've never been so drawn into the universe before. Look for the full written review when the game arrives next year. For now, keep replaying that demo (hopefully it can tide you over a little). The game will be available for PS3, PSVITA and Xbox 360.