Although there have been umpteen "fans-only " (read: deplorable) games based on the Dragon Ball animated series, last year's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi was a step in the right direction, delivering a fast, accessible fighting experience that you didn't have to be a fan to enjoy. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is the same game at heart, butit packs ina raft of new additions, refinements and improvements.
For this round, you can fight as nearly 130 spiky-haired characters from previous games and TV shows, starting with Dragon Ball and spanning through Dragon Ball Z to Dragon Ball GT (that%26rsquo;s about 20 years of DB history). It%26rsquo;s a DBZ fan%26rsquo;s dream - although, with a roster that huge, it's hardly shocking that thereusually isn'tmuch difference between the various characters; Vegeta plays a lot like Goku, Goku plays like Frieza and so on. For the most part, only their moves and fighting animations seem to be different.
To compensate, a bit of role-playing has been mixed in, with upgradeable "Z Items" that help enhance specific moves and character traits between battles. It adds a bit of depth, and you can even create your own Z Items, although thatproved to be a counter-intuitive chore.
Like the previous games, Budokai Tenkaichi 2 seems to have little interest in a learning curve or gradually increasing difficulty. The first hour or so of the Dragon Adventure story mode is frustrating enough to turn off most casual gamers, with uneven opponents who range from laughably easy to nearly impossible to defeat. In that short time, however, we discovered a pattern of attacks that beat nearly every opponent, making the game a little more fun - at least until we started feeling cheap from hammering down so many foes the same way.