Rush move which will cut the action from the usual side profile into a cinematic type shot of the character that launched the Dragon Rush. The attack is brilliant and you opponent gets a really good hiding. However to do the most damage you have to get lucky, at three points during the Dragon Rush both players must press one of the four buttons on the controller. If the attacking player can hit a different button to the other player the Dragon Rush will continue but should both players press the same button the attack will stop. Basically the each player will have to try and second guess the other player. Although the Dragon Rush move is extremely spectacular and completely OTT the move is very similar for each of the players and it would have been nice to see some variation.
Another new move to Budokai 3 is the Teleport Counter which teleports your fighter behind your opponent which will allow you to pull off a surprise attack. However it isn’t always that easy, if your opponent is fast enough he/she can pull of a Teleport and appear behind you. It’s a great system, it allows the element of surprise but this move is never overly powerful as the opponent can reverse the move. As you would expect from Dragon Ball Z the Teleport Counter can be used to ridiculous effect, if you kick your opponent into the air you can teleport and kick them back into the air for a few time at each attempt.
Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 also features the energy attacks but this time Budokai 3 has introduced a new feature to the energy beams which sees two player battle against each other with their energy beams. Each player can throw a massive beam of energy at each other and the beams will meet somewhere in the middle. Then the battle begins, each player has to then smash the buttons or rotate the analogue sticks as fast as they can to push his/her beam closer towards the opponent. It’s not particularly tactical butit just adds to the completely over the top moves that ooze from Budokai 3 and the beam battles look very cool.
Unfortunately, if your energy meter or “ki” meter is empty you won’t be able to pull off your energy moves like the energy beam and your normal punches and kicks will have very little effect as the power comes from your energy meter. Ki is also needed for transformations, which is where characters can change or evolve into different forms. You can build up your ki again just by connecting your attacks with your opponent, you can also do a power up which works in a similar way to taunts in other fighting games. You will basically stand there and charge your ki, but while you do this you will be completely vulnerable to any attack. As the ki meter effects just about everything it is extremely important that you keep your meter full. If you find you have loads of ki you can press all four buttons on the control pad to launch into hyper mode, your character will start to glow red, at this point you will have a few moves that you can pull off that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, such as the Dragon Rush and the ultimate attack.
The ultimate attack is best used after you have pulled off a couple of Dragon Rush’s and your opponent becomes fatigued. Fatigue is measured in its own bar aside from the health bar, and once it goes red you know your opponent is very fatigued. If you happen to be in this situation and you also happen to be in hyper mode you now have the chance to pull off the ultimate attack move by pressing all four buttons again. The odds are your opponent may not be finished off because you will need to have a very good sense of timing to actually finish the ultimate move, as with the Dragon Rush the move is split by three events on the control pad. This time you will have to pull off three very well timed button presses to complete the move. As with the Dragon Rush the camera cuts from the side profile and the attacks are probably the most insane you will ever see in a beat em up.
Along with all the massive special moves Budokai 3 plays very well and its probably more technical than you might think, most moves can be countered, the players are all very well balanced. When blocking against a close up combo attack you can dodge the incoming attacks by making a few timed taps on the block/guard button. Most of all the gameplay seems to replicate the look and feel of the movies.
This time Budokai 3 has left out the board game and replaced it with Dragon Universe which is similar to the story mode in the first Budokai. This time the story is different for each character but at the end of the day you will find that you are pitted against a series of opponents and it will give you a chance unlock some nice little extras. As you progress through the universe fighting various opponents you will gain experience points which can be used to increase your stats that will affect the performance of your character. Unfortunately the Dragon Universe is not quite as good as the story mode in the first Budokai game as the story is told via a screen shot and a voice over and when there is meant to be some action happening in parts of the story you only get to hear some sound effects which is just not good enough in this day and age. Not only that, but the story can be quite confusing, at which point coupled with the screenshots and voice over you completely loose interest.
Graphically Budokai 3 is awesome, it may be cell shaded but the effects that can be seem while pulling off the ridiculously over the top moves are something that have to be seen. The characters are nicely detailed and the environments look better than ever. The graphics really add to the overall gameplay as each move looks and feels incredibly powerful. There are also some new animations here which look very good, but some have unfortunately been carried over from Budokai 2. The worst aspect of the visuals has to be in the Dragon Universe I can’t see why they didn’t use any animation and opted for the stills. Anyway with that aside Budokai 3 looks awesome.
The audio has been lifted straight from the cartoons which is great for the fans of the Dragon Ball Z world but some people may not be so keen on it. Saying that the aim of the game is to bring the real thing to a video game, so by doing this the developers have managed to intensify the game for the real fans. The speech is all in English and it all sounds pretty good and on occasions speak is substituted for speech bubble, so it does feel at times as if they forgot to do some speech for some parts and rather than record the extra bits they opted to add come speech bubbles. The music is upbeat electronic affair that can be fairly intense at times. If you think of the 80’s synth sound and a bit of guitar and then think Japan you will probably have a good idea of what to expect.
Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 is a great game for the fans of the series and a great game for anyone who likes the beat em up genre. The effects of the special moves are out of this world, the action is extremely fast and the combat system is actually really good even though it is hidden behind all those great visuals. If you are a Dragon Ball Z fan this game is essential as it is by far the best DBZ fighting game made so far, if you’re a fan of fast paced visceral beat em ups you can do a lot, lot worse than bagging yourself a copy of Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3.
8.0 out of 10