Dragonball Z
Budokai 2

Format: PS2
Age Restrictions: 12+

Go beyond the Dragonball Z Saga and experience the full force of the most powerful fighters in the universe. Don't just watch the cartoon - live it!...

The latest Dragonball Z game from Atari, Budokai 2, is not your run-of-the-mill beat 'em up offering. To start with the game designers have paid a lot of attention to detail so that fans of the animated series will be able to identify with the characters immediately. This is not some poorly conceived crappy merchandise spin-off - the game developers have gone to great lengths to make this as close to the series as possible.

The game includes 34 of the toughest, most seasoned Dragonball Z fighters, and 8 highly destructive arenas. Playing in Dragon Mode (which is the main story mode) players can join forces with a team of AI-controlled Z Fighters on a quest to capture all seven Dragon Balls. New to Budokai 2 is the mighty villain Buu, and the ability to absorb enemies and perform Fusion (i.e. merge two characters, just as in the show) to create even stronger fighters.

First reaction to this game is bound to be: "Great! Yet another beat 'em up game." But where Budokai 2 differs is in the way the battles are presented. More strategy is required on the part of the player in order to outsmart the bad guys. In some respects it's a little like Pokemon - in that the battles are not the most important aspect. You need to plot your way carefully and avoiding a fight can be just as beneficial as rushing headlong into one.

While the graphics look fairly authentic for a Manga-style conversion, this also means that it has a very flat 2D feel to it. But, at the end of the day, Budokai 2 is really only likely to appeal to those who are Dragonball Z fans - which is somewhat of a shame as there is more to this game than meets the eye.

An above average game that warrants a closer look before you decide it's not your cup of tea.

Nick Smithson

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