Review: Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 (Sony PS3)

Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2
Developer: Spike
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Genre: 3D Fighting
Release Date: 11/02/2010

Last year gave us the first Dragon Ball Raging Blast, a game I had the opportunity to review. While I did enjoy the game, I felt there was room for some improvement, and it was a decent overall fighting game on top of being a really good Dragon Ball game. This year, Namco Bandai have given us a sequel to Raging Blast that boasts 20 more characters from the shows and movies, online fighting, and a remake of the anime “Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans.” This did not inspire me with confidence as I was reading the back of the box. Let’s see why.

First things first. The part of the game I loved from Raging Blast, the recreation of events in the actual shows and actual fights that went on there, is gone. There is nothing like it in its place. So already I’m cringing looking at the menu when I turn the game on. So what is there?

If you’re looking for single player action you have Galaxy Mode and Battle Zone. Battle Zone lets you pick amongst the characters you’ve unlocked to put you in what seems like random battles against a chain of four opponents, culminating in a fight with the character the zone is named after, like Vegeta, Piccolo, and so on. The fights get progressively harder as you go, and it’s very linear. If you’ve gone into Battle Zone with one character it is the exact same fights with any other character, only you don’t have to keep fighting through a zone once you’ve beaten the end boss in each. Battle Zone also lets you play your customized character as well which can be helpful as you unlock better items, or if you like a different set of skills better. The groups of characters you move through can seem really weird. Like Frieza’s chain starts with Krillin, then moves to Android 14, then Android 18, then Frieza. Vegeta’s was the Saibamen (that one made sense), then Zarbon (less sense), then Dr. Gero (NO SENSE) followed by Vegeta.

Galaxy Mode plays like the leveling system from Final Fantasy XIII. You pick you character and have to fight your way through a small grid of battles to get to the boss fight for that character. Fighting in both Galaxy Mode and Battle Zone unlock characters, items and so on. For example you don’t have teen Gohan to start with and are stuck with kid Gohan if you want to play Gohan at all. To unlock him you have to play with Gohan in Battle Zone and beat Vegeta or play Videl in Galaxy Mode and beat her boss which happens to be teen Gohan. If the grouping of people in Battle Zone seemed random, it’s worse in Galaxy Mode where you might end up fighting clones of yourself with no rhyme or reason to it. Each fight has a set of challenges to it, some of which are nearly impossible because of how the game responds, like having to take on a boss without getting hit at all because if you do you’re toast.

Battle lets you play in a variety of modes, from a Single Battle between you and a friend or the CPU, to a Team Battle where you can choose up to five people per team to go through and fight a friend or the CPU, and finally Power Battle that sets the limit on your power level as you pick your team to battle it out with a friend or the CPU.

World Tournament lets you run a tournament in either the normal setting or the Cell Games. This can be done single player or with up to 16 participants. It’s one match at a time however, so don’t go getting too excited. Both the Cell Games and standard tournament play out pretty much the same way.

Now to Online Battle. You’ve got Standard matched, putting you one-on-one against other players without any of your custom items and unlocks. Freestyle is the same as standard but gives you the option of using your unlocked items and equips against another player. World Tournament puts you in a Tournament against other players similar to the World Tournament in the offline mode. Friends Match pits you against only your friends, and your Battle Record lets you know how terrible a player you are.

The Museum is the last bit to talk about here. It’s where you’ll find the remake of the anime which is badly translated into English. No idea why they didn’t just have Funimation dub this over like they did the rest of the game, but I’ve seen better fan-sub translations than this one. At least it’s short. You’ll also find the pictures you’ve unlocked as well as any other videos. It’s not very exciting.

So while there’s some decent modes in this one, it’s lacking any kind of story-telling aspect and feels completely random and thrown together. The extra characters are nice, but I’d love to have the option to play through the Dragon Battle Collection with the new roster. It’s a big omission and makes this feel like a bunch of random fights with DBZ characters in it.

Story/Modes Rating: Enjoyable

Much like the first game, Raging Blast 2 manages to capture the look and feel of the TV show quite well, only it’s been refined a bit more from the first game. It’s subtle but noticeable. That’s not to say they’re amazing and award winning, but they more than get the job done. The environments take a nice beating when they need to and the special attacks look like they should. The same problem with the first though applies here. The game doesn’t appear all that different from the PS2 games and others before it, mainly due to the cel-shading. It doesn’t lend it well to really showing off the details. I really did like the way damage shows up on the characters here. The more of a beating someone takes, the more cuts, bruises and damage to clothing shows up.

Graphics Rating: Great

Once again Funimation has teamed up with the developers for the game to provide the voice overs for the game which is very cool, but not entirely sure they’re needed here. Without the story mode, it’s a series of lines and then fighting noises strung together, which is pretty much the earmark of a fighting game. What is there though is spot on and the lines are delivered well. My one gripe with the sound was the included redone anime that comes on the disc in the museum. It’s all in Japanese which I’d normally be fine with but the rest of the entire game is in English, so why skimp on this part of it? Especially a part that features the top left section of the back of the box.

Sound Rating: Above Average

Control and Gameplay
Here’s where the game kind of falls apart for me. Sure there are lots of options to fight in the game, which is really the point. My problem lies with the controls and gameplay. The gameplay is pretty straight-forward, and I already talked about my issues with Galaxy Mode, but the online match-ups are terrible. I’m not a great player by any means but I’m at least somewhat competent. Well every time I’d pop online to play a quick match I’d get paired up with someone who hasn’t lost a match yet even though I’m clearly ranked as a novice. If you’re not an expert at this prepare to get your ass handed to you each and every match you enter because you’re not going to get paired up with someone at your level.

Then there’s the shoddy controls. Where the first game was responsive and did what I wanted every time I hit a button, this game would lag, ignore my commands or interpret them in an entirely different way than I intended.

I’ve only ever gotten a block to work three or four times in the many hours I’ve logged in this game. It’s a bit ridiculous. Then for some reason every time you do get hit you get spun around so you’re not facing your target so you have to wait to turn around again to re-engage your target because blocking doesn’t work. Let’s say you want to light up on fire and speed burst around the map, ok. Half the time that won’t work because you’ll just be doing a quick lurch forward instead of going into full speed moves. Then there are the special moves. The game will pop up on screen and TELL you what buttons to hit to go all ape on your opponent, and I’ve yet to have it actually WORK when I hit the combo on the screen. It usually fires up about a minute later when I randomly hit the combo again.

To say the controls went from awesome to sloppy is an understatement. It feels rushed every time I turn it on and it really makes me want to put the first Raging Blast in or dig up Mortal Kombat IV for my N64 to get a fighting game that works. I’m Raging all right, raging that the developers let this one go as is.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor

If you can manage to fight with the controls long enough there’s a lot to keep you busy here, especially with the multiplayer and being able to host your own tournaments with friends. There’s a string of trophies to pick up, and lots of characters and items to unlock. Really though, with a lack of any real cohesion in the set-ups and functioning controls, I don’t see many people picking this up again.

Replayability Rating: Mediocre

You do have a ton of options to play with here in this game and a lot of content to play through and unlock. The fights do get progressively harder as you move through the different modes in single player as well which is good and something I like to see. The online match-up system though is terrible. Pitting novices against seasoned players is a bad move and it’s not the first game that has done that to me this year. It really turns new players off to the game and will definitely affect how many keep coming back to it. This end of things needed work. Overall though I’d say it was about right.

Balance Rating: Good

When it comes to a sequel to a new game series you want to expect something new. We didn’t really get that with this game. In fact we got less of that with this game. The Galaxy Mode is something new to this series but it’s been done before and done better. In fact we get less originality this time as they dropped a whole mode. This game doesn’t really add anything new. Sure there are a few new characters, but any game can throw new characters at you. Really you’re not getting anything new out of it, except a grind to unlock characters you want to play and a control system that apparently wasn’t ripe yet.

Originality Rating: Pretty Poor

The only reason I kept playing this was because I refused to let some of the people in the roster beat me. I avoid Galaxy Mode like the plague because the match-ups make no sense so I stuck to tournaments which get old when you can’t watch or participate in any of the matches you’re not involved in if it’s single player. The control issues drove me up a wall. Really this is not the way to keep players of your game to keep coming back. I had to struggle to play this. Not an improvement over the first title at all in this regard.

Addictiveness Rating: Below Average

Appeal Factor
While the game might appeal as a second title in what looked to be a fresh start on the series, the back of the game spending most of its time advertising a revamp of an animation most likely already seen by the people going to play it, with a really crappy storyline I might add, is not going to help this. Sure this title has characters that haven’t been in other titles, but honestly, most of the DBZ fans I know won’t care about the new guys in the roster as they go to their favorites. In fact I know one person who won’t be getting this because you have to grind to unlock her favorite, Gohan. Sure she can play as young Gohan, but she liked him as a teen, even in his stupid super-hero costume, neither of which you can play from the start and have to play through as some characters you may not care about at all to unlock. I don’t mind grinding to unlock new costumes, but grinding to unlock characters that most people want to play is annoying.

Appeal Factor Rating: Poor

One of the things we got with this game was a set of download codes for characters in the game. I was really excited with this as Gohan was on the list and I figured I wouldn’t have to play through Videl to unlock him in teen mode, but alas that wasn’t the case. You still have to unlock the characters the downloads are tied to, and while you get slightly more powerful versions of the characters, it’s such a small change, it’s not even that noticeable. Especially since you can’t use them like that in half the matches you play in the game as they are all beefed up. While the DLC characters are a nice touch, I wouldn’t recommend them, especially if you think they’ll unlock anything or give you a significant edge. It won’t.

Miscellaneous Rating: Below Average

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Enjoyable
Graphics Rating: Great
Sound Rating: Above Average
Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor
Replayability Rating: Mediocre
Balance Rating: Good
Originality Rating: Pretty Poor
Addictiveness Rating: Below Average
Appeal Factor Rating: Poor
Miscellaneous Rating: Below Average

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize While you might think this latest entry into the series is a decent follow-up, don’t be fooled. The extra characters don’t make up for an entire mode being lost, or a degrading in the controls to make it impossible to enjoy playing for any long periods of time. Player matching in online play is annoying at best and discouraging and frustrating most of the time. If you were thinking about getting into the Raging Blast series, I’d have to recommend the first game. There isn’t enough new here and the graphics improvements, while slight don’t make this a better game.



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