Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 Review

Dragon Ball Z fans are probably going to love Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, and not just because it is based on their favorite anime series. Budokai 3 is a good fighter in its own right, and is sure to attract who arenít quite as familiar with all things Dragon Ball Z.

The main mode of Budokai 3 is the Dragon Universe mode. In this mode you select a character to fly over a world map looking for special encounter zones that lead to fights with enemies. Most of these fights are drawn from the animated series, with slideshow, comic book-style cutscenes setting the stage for each match. Dragon Ball Z fans will be able to follow the story and recognize where in the saga each fight is taking place, but those unfamiliar with the series will only have a vague idea of what is going on. In addition to these encounter hotspots there are bonus battle locations, so it pays to fly across the whole globe with your character. While you can complete the game without taking part in the extra battles, doing so will help you earn valuable experience and special capsules that can be used to unlock new powers. Each character has a different storyline, so the experience is a bit different each time you select a new character and this helps extend the gameís playing time.

As you win fights youíll gain experience and have the opportunity to level-up your fighter. Like an RPG, you will be given a set number of points that you will be able to spend on attributes such as health and ki (magic power). This of course makes your character more powerful, so itís a good idea to build up a little experience on the bonus fights before taking on a tough opponent. While Budokai 3 has no online component, the game does give you the chance to take your customized fighter to battle against other gamers. Each time you level-up you will be given a rather lengthy password. Write down the password, enter it into the game at a friendís house, and youíll have your custom fighter there and ready for action.

The game provides additional modes to the story-based Dragon Universe mode. You can train against the computer in a mode that will let you practice your moves and combos outside of the heat of battle. The duel option is basically the same as the training in that you take on a single opponent, but in this case the computer wonít be holding back any punches. World Tournament is a series of fights of increasing difficulty. Like in the Dragon Universe mode youíll gain experience from successful fights and your character will get better as you progress.

The fight system itself is pretty good and has some depth to it, which alone puts it in a class above most fighters out there. The buttons give you punch, kick, guard, and blast options, and these can be used in different combinations to pull off a variety of combos. You can even map combos to the shoulder buttons to make them easier to pull off. On defense you have the ability to pull off counters, turning an opponentís attack back on himself or giving you an opening to turn the tables. While the fights are 2D affairs, you have the ability to fly which in effect gives you another dimension to work with in your battles.