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PlayStation 3 Review: Dragon Ball – Raging Blast

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One of the best things about 3D (or 2D) fighters is the fighting. Nice environments, good graphics, great sound, and a decent story are all nice, but the actual fight mechanics are the most important thing. Thus, when one plays Dragon Ball: Raging Blast, the latest Dragon Ball fighter, one might find themselves momentarily impressed by the look and quantity of content included (as with some of the other DB games, there are over 70 characters), the game is ultimately a massive letdown. The fight mechanics are distinctly subpar and the entire experience suffers greatly for that.

As with previous entries into the fighting franchise, this game allows for several different kinds of attacks to be performed – smashes, melees, Ki blasts, and signature moves – but the melees, which should be a fighter's bread and butter, are woefully inadequate. The game responds sluggishly if at all – playing the game one will definitely experience several times in each battle where theyDragon Ball: Raging Blast swear that they pressed for a punch and nothing occurs. The emphasis within the game doesn't lie in any sort of basic attacks, it lies in the special moves, Ki blasts, and signature attacks, and even those don't always seem to work when one presses the right combination of buttons. This issue is all the more frustrating when the game actually suggests a move to perform and following the on-screen instructions nothing – or the wrong thing – happens. The instruction to perform the special move then stays on the screen, still encouraging the player to perform the action and, unintentionally, mocking them.

The game itself is divided into several different sections including Dragon Battle Collection (story mode), Super Battle Trial, Versus, World Tournament, and Online Battle. Then, in keeping with Raging Blast's desire to put quantity over quality, Dragon Battle contains several different sagas (storylines from the Dragon Ball cartoon) and "what-if" scenarios one can play through, and Super Battle Trial and Versus has several different types of battles one can engage in. Perhaps the oddest of these is Time Attack in Battle Trial. One would assume that in a battle that revolves around a time limit, that has "Time" in its very title, would show a timer. It doesn't, not until time has nearly run out at which point a timer will appear to let the player know that it's just about too late to win unless they're but a few blows from Dragon Ball: Raging Blastvictory.

There are several different stories one can play through in the game's Dragon Battle Collection mode. While those who know the various storylines may find themselves right at home, those who don't will have to read the optional introductions to the battles to be able to figure out what exactly is taking place (except for there being good guys and bad guys and a whole lot of fighting).

The game does feature a lot of wide-ranging environments, all of which contain a large number of destructible objects, and it certainly is fun tossing an opponent into a mountainside and either seeing the mountain crumble to dust or the nefarious evildoer get momentarily dazed and stuck in the middle of the mountain as cracks form emanating out from the bad guy.

Raging Blast, though, never seems to have a pro without having a con. The massive environments are fun, but the camera and camera control is less than optimal. It is incredibly hard to figure out where one's foe might be if they're not in sight. There is a way to have one's player head Dragon Ball: Raging Blastdirectly towards their opponent, wherever they may be, but approaching an opponent and knowing where they are is not the same thing. One might definitely want the latter but not have the former forced upon them.

It is possible that Namco Bandai has realized that the game is less than stellar as they recently announced that there will be a series of over a dozen free DLC packs made available for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. The packs are set to include customized versions of characters which different powered-up abilities for use in Versus battles.

Make no mistake, the game looks utterly fantastic, beautifully replicating the cartoon series. The game also contains a ton of content, but there is little depth to any of that content – the emphasis here is clearly on quantity with little thought having been given to quality.

Fans of Dragon Ball will almost certainly embrace Raging Blast, but those who have not already invested a serious amount of time in the franchise in any form would do better to start off (or stick with) any number of other DB games that have been released through the years.

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence and Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.