At first glance, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z comes across as a barebones fighter that's been down for the count with no sign of ever making it to its feet.
It's simplistic, for sure, but looks can be deceptive Underneath this simple-minded fighter's exterior is a world of intricacies, planning, and strategy.
Combat is handled by attaching combos to the Triangle button, while ranged attacks are mapped to Circle. Mashing Triangle repeatedly will launch a combo, but it's not always advised.
Holding down L trigger activates the block and dash functions, while also changing the four-face buttons to special attacks, including a short-range combo attack, a chase attack to follow enemies too craven to battle, and an over-the-top Ki Blast (read: 'giant fireball of doom').
Although combat may seem limiting during the first few hours, and Battle of Z does a rubbish job of fully explaining how it all works, as the character roster grows with each new unlock so grows your comprehension of combat encounters.
Hammering one button on repeat might work, but dashing out of the way of enemy fireballs to close distance, jolting off a few Ki Blasts to keep them guessing, then launching a combo becomes much more satisfying and much more viable.
You'll never do battle alone. Before each episode, you choose three other characters from the Dragon Ball Z universe to act as backup, picking from different archetypes which best suit your own fighting style.
A Ki Blast character acts as ranged-based backup, while Support heal wounded teammates. Interfere, well, interferes by breaking up combos, amd Melee offers up close damage at the cost of range.
The early levels can be cleared without much thought, but as the game progresses and the difficulty increases, picking a balanced team is the key to success. That is, of course, until Battle of Z starts to fight dirty.
Certain missions are horribly unbalanced. When battling the character Cell, for instance, he'll launch a purple electric sphere that outright knocks out most characters.
In any given mission, you have a set number of revives, and once they're out, you fail the mission. So, should the other party members get caught in this purple sphere of death, the team is down three continues, meaning that there's a chance of failing a mission thanks to the stupidity of the computer-controlled characters.
It's frustrating. Rage-inducing, even.
Battle of Z excels at fast-paced, tactical combat, so to have Boss Battles feel so cheap is a massive misstep, and one that is sure to turn some players off.
There's an option to tell teammates to act defensively, but their definition of defensive is flying headfirst into trouble, so that command is pretty useless.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z has its faults, then, but there's some addictive witchcraft at work that keeps you coming back for more. Battle of Z may lose out because of problems that could have been avoided, but in terms of pure Super Saiyan enjoyment, it wins every round.