Dragon Ball: Raging Blast - PS3 Review
|19/11/2009||Namco Bandai||Namco Bandai||Spike||1-2||2-8|
Some people would have you think that anime is all about big eyes, big hair, little mouths, massive explosions and chicks in short skirts. Which is a shame, given there's actually a fair bit of quality out there which has so much more to offer; Cowboy Bebop and Hellsing are some oldies but goldies, and Studio Ghibli is still producing top shelf anime films. On the other hand though, there's also some real junk out there, which certainly does give people the wrong idea about anime. Now call me an anime snob if you must, but as far as I'm concerned, the Dragon Ball series is right up there as the ringleader of the junk brigade. So does that make Raging Blast an average title, churned out purely because of the legions of brainwashed fans will pay money for it? Hell yeah. (and does that mean I tried to slit my wrists repeatedly during playing it for this review? Well, I've got the scars to prove it!).
|Dragon Ball: Raging Blast on PS3.|
Funnily enough, Raging Blast follows the existing storyline of the Dragon Ball series. For the unacquainted, it essentially follows the life of Goku (the black haired guy in the orange gi) training in martial arts and searching the world for the seven mystical Dragon Balls. Collect all seven of these Dragon Balls and you can summon Shenron the wish granting dragon (you know, neverending Tim Tams, more wishes, etc). Of course nothing in life is ever straight forward, so there's plenty of villains also seeking these balls which Goku and his friends have to fight against along the way (armed with big hair and massive explosions of course).
To get some scale as to the size of the Dragon Ball sagas, it can be put into proportion by the fact that the original manga dates back to 1984, yet over 25 years later is still running today in one incarnation or another. The main story mode in Raging Blast lets you revisit a huge chunk of both major and minor fights that have occurred throughout the series, as well as some made up “what if” scenarios. With 70 playable characters available (and even more if you include the DLC) this comes with a very substantial roster. However while a truckload of playable characters may be a great feature to list on the box, it comes off a little short-changed for both hardcore and newbie players alike.
|Getting smashed into the wall.|
Dedicated fans of the series will soon tire of the repetitive move-sets between characters, and the dialog throughout the story portions isn't entirely spot-on to what you might've heard in the anime. Newcomers to the series will not only be swamped by the sheer options available by the characters and fights available, but there's minimal direction to guide you at the same time (coupled by the fact that you can fight story fights out-of-order). This certainly doesn't help in trying to understand what's going on, further enforcing the newbie Dragon Ball stereotype of little tough-nut steroid junkies hurling giant fireballs at one another.
In addition to Raging Blast's story mode, there's a plethora of other modes which you'd expect from a fighting title such as this, as well as some you wouldn't (“Punching Machine” is a corny last-minute-addition mini-game, and "Destruction" lets you let your inner Godzilla out, where points are awarded for scenery desctruction caused during a fight). Online gameplay is also available for versus matches as well as tournaments, and it behaves as you'd expect from a lesser-precision fighting game such as this; pretty solid most of the time, but occasionally flakes out depending on your (and your competitor's) internet connection.
|There are some nice visual effects.|
Visually Raging Blast is a bit hit-miss; while the characters are captured faithfully to their animated counterparts (especially so when the game is in motion), many of the backgrounds are particularly sparse. The draw distance is encouraging, but when the scenery is rolling hills with little if any scenery or ground objects, the draw distance really isn't a huge feat for the PS3. Cutscenes are all played out using the in-game engine, which looks fine enough, but when they're just standing there bantering pages of text backwards and forwards it doesn't really add much to the atmosphere, and is a trait more reminiscent of an old SNES or Megadrive game rather than a latest generation Playstation 3 title.
The biggest issue by far with Raging Blast is the camera, or rather lack thereof. Apparently optimised from the Burst Limit title which released in 2008, the camera here literally packs its bags and headed to the Bahamas at the first sign of obstacles; be they hills, trees, cliffs, or even the ground. Now this is a really big problem for this game, given that 95% of your fight will be on the ground and not in the air – you'll end up seeing up your character's pant-leg or just gazing out to the blue sky rather than where your opponent is. And given that the AI characters don't need the camera to fight back, more often than not you'll finally wrestle control of the camera back, just in time to see your fighter bite the dust. Again. And again. Yep, the camera really is nasty in Raging Blast.
|Taking the battle to the skies.|
From an aural perspective, Raging Blast's sound effects hold true to their anime counterparts, so you'll feel right at home here, right inbetween the cheesy techno backing tracks (as cheesy as that might sound, it actually does suit the game to a tee and is very welcome). Both Japanese and English voice tracks are selectable too (something which is becoming increasingly popular with Japanese titles), so regardless of whether you've been following the series here on free-to-air, or via fan-subs, your ears will have the aural experience that you're used to.
As an added bonus to people who have purchased Raging Blast, as of writing this review there is already 3 free (!) DLC packs have been available on PSN, each adding 5 new characters to the game. Sure, there's already more than enough characters available here to you already, but these post-release support and extras is a good-willed gesture from the guys at Spike. Hopefully this will set the tone for other games rather than going down the path of paid DLC, particularly the sort which already exists on the disc upon release.
|Another Dragon Ball: Raging Blast screen.|
Reading over this review, it's odd that I've written so much on a game which I found I didn't really enjoy, and had plenty of issues with (did I mention the awful camera? Yargh!!). On second thoughts however, it's because Raging Blast is a surprisingly deep game with far more features and characters that I can remember any other game having in the last 12 months or so. Sadly though, it's definitely a case of the game being quality over quantity; while there are a million things to see and do, the fundamental gameplay errs on the simplistic side, and the camera is unforgivable. Unless you're a serious fan of the series, or want to have a game which you'll never end up finishing to 100% due to sheer frustration (and probably old age too), DragonBall: Raging Blast is best left to gather dust on the shelf.
Review By: Chris Gobbett
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|GRAPHICS||Great character models and effects, but backed by mediocre scenery and horrible cameras.||65%|
|SOUND||Japanaese/English dubs, great effects, and a rocking soundtrack!||81%|
|GAMEPLAY||Did someone mention a dodgy camera?! Cos it's beyond broken and affects gameplay!||60%|
|VALUE||There's plenty to see and do, but ultimately requires more variety.||79%|
|OVERALL||Raging Blast had a fair try at becoming the definitive Dragon Ball title, but sadly with broken mechanics (and the damn camera!!) at the heart of the game, covered up by copy-pasted unlockables and characters, it's come up as being “just another DBZ game” for the fans only.||62%|