Review

Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 Review (Xbox360)

If you've never witnessed Dragon Ball Z before, it won't take much longer than the opening visuals for you to understand it's an overly camp, vibrant and completely bizarre universe. For those that have, the joyous Japanese singing will be a reminder of what makes the franchise so appealing. Before long the heartfelt chorus is over, and the series' main drawing point shows itself in full force.
 

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Dragon Ball Z
We're talking about the battles. From the outset, Raging Blast 2 pits you against a whole range of characters from the Dragon Ball Z universe. With a decent selection available to play as from the beginning, die-hard fans will be excited to know there's plenty more to unlock. This is achieved by fighting your way through numerous scenarios; many of which are repetitive and soulless. When the over-complicated tutorial is over, you'll quickly realise there's no need to learn some of the mega-combos for the majority of bouts, the simple attacks do damage just fine.

That may be taking away from the skill needed to defeat the most difficult levels, but Raging Blast 2 lingers of futility. The action itself runs smoothly for the most part, but some game-breaking flaws are hidden within. Like many other fighters, landing a few successful hits will allow you to unleash a super move. This can be accomplished with a flick of the right stick in Raging Blast 2; something that puts a monotonous cycle in place. It's telling that, even on hard difficulty, we managed to plough through teams of enemies by utilising simple two-button combinations, then switching to the super move when we'd built up enough damage. It's unforgivable that, once a decent player gets the first hit in, they have a significant advantage. Certain moves send your enemy flying across the map and can be reused over and over again until they're a lifeless blob nestling on the ground. Devastating, but hardly riveting to play.

To make things even less thrilling, the dreaded QTE is used on a regular basis. This is all well and good if it adds to the action, but Raging Blast 2 is worse off for it. Tapping certain buttons at the right time will intercept an opponent's attempt to escape or switch with a partner, and the mini-game that follows is poorly executed. These are meant to be the moments we see the animation strive with confidence, but instead, the characters splutter about invisibly on screen for a while like they're having a quick jostle under Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.
 
The environments look huge, but they're limited by invisible walls
While the game captures the visual flair of the animé excellently, the environments often lack character. We appreciate being able to punch our foes through giant rocks, but when they lifelessly disperse into a blocky mulch, we're not quite as thrilled. By far the best environmental interaction is pummelling someone so hard they plop underwater; where the battle can continue. It doesn't have any bearing on the outcome of the fight, but there's something so empowering about bursting out of the wet like a pole-vaulting salmon. Unfortunately, the limits of the locations are often shortened by the game's useless camera. When fighting in the sky, you can often lose track of your opponent, as they disappear off screen. The camera tries to even this up for you, indicating which direction your opponent stands in. Instead of actually pinpointing where they are, you'll often be staring into empty space whilst trying to identify their position yourself. It's awkward, unnecessary, and completely annoying when you're trying to land that final blow.

If the single-player quest loses its appeal early on (and believe us, if you're not a veteran of the series, it will), there's a chance to hop online in hope of some extra value. The title is limited to one-on-one battles, with a World Tournament mode thrown in for good measure. This allows 16 players to simultaneously battle it out, but if you hadn't guessed, it lacks staying power. It's a shame that Raging Blast 2 turns sour so quickly, because it really is rewarding for those who put in the hours. If you've spent months growing your hair just so you can look like a middle-aged Goku, there's plenty of interesting artwork, moves, and characters to spend your time unlocking. For the rest of us, Namco Bandai have produced a playable, if uninspiring rendition of such a rich universe.
 
For those who put the effort in, there's loads of special moves and transformations to unlock

It's certainly a question of quantity over quality. Raging Blast 2 will serve its purpose with the fans, as there's hours of battles to work through, all littered with cheesy quips from heroes and villains alike. The sheer abundance of characters will be enough for those who're passionate about the series, but for the rest of us, this is a below-par fighting game that's been done better before. It's a real shame too, because there's obvious potential hidden within the title. If Raging Blast 3 is going to be any different, Namco Bandai need to add something more substantial than repetitive encounters, rework the lazy control scheme, and iron out the camera mishaps. Best get started, then.

Most Memorable Moment: The theme tune, just because it gets stuck in our head.

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