Dragonball Source Review

Originally Posted on May 7th, 2007: Link

It may not be breaking any new ground, but Dragonball Source offers up a rollicking good time for fans of the series and provides an interesting fighting experience for everyone else.

“Vegeta, what does the scouter… too late.”

Dragonball Source is the latest attempt to spark interest in one of the most popular anime series ever made. It takes the most popular characters from the show–including fan favorites like Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo–and pits them in life and death battles across the Dragonball universe.

The game is multiplayer only and incorporates RPG elements to spice up the gameplay, which provides an incentive for the player to keep improving his rank by accomplishing different tasks. There are also different game modes you can choose from, such as Capture the Dragonballs and King of the Hill. The formula is pretty simple going into the game itself and there’s not a big learning curve, which really helps out if you’re new to the mod’s style.

You start off the game by selecting which of the four colored teams you would like to join. After you have selected your team, you can pick a character. There are a wealth of options, as choosing the right character serves a strategic purpose as well. For example, a small character provides less of a target for your enemies and makes it easier to get around obstacles in the environment.

Right now, you can only choose fighters from the Saiyan saga (each saga is basicallya season in the series of the show). Eventually, however, you will be able to choose warriors from the Frieza, Cell, Babidi and Buu sagas. There’s even a “Custom” option, which means that the team may be implementing a create-a-fighter service in the future.

As soon as you have selected your character, you are thrown into action. Your job is to kill as many people, or gather as many dragonballs that are strewn across the level, as you can. This helps you gain experience, which increases your character’s level and stats. To help you out, there is a variety of moves at your disposal to help you destroy your foes. You have your Melee Attack, which is a set of kicks and punches; General Beams, which give you one energy blast at a time; Rapid Fire, which fires beams shot in succession; Stun Moves that knock your enemy off guard; and Special Attacks, such as Gohan’s Masenko Blast, Krillin’s Destructo Disk and Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon.

These Special Attacks are what makes up the supreme battle that is Dragonball Source‘s original feature: the Power Struggle. In this battle of the titans, you and your foe attack each other at the exact same time. When the energy beams slam into each other, you can sit back and watch the action unfold before you. Even your friends can get in on the battle and pool their energy to help you dispose of your opponent. This move ultimately means failure for one player. However, engaging in this struggle is necessary in order to rank your character up.

As much fun as this mod can be once the action really heats up, there are some unfortunate problems that may keep it from becoming an instant hit.

Ewwww....murky water.

Ewwww….murky water.

During the game, players may have difficulty telling their teammates apart from one another. Since friendly fire is always on, I spent the better part of my first hour trying to run away from one of my own teammates. This could be avoided if the servers not only had the option of turning friendly fire off, but also displayed the person’s color-coded name above his head. Also, losing a chunk of experience for killing a teammate would be nice, as I don’t want someone reaping the benefit of blasting me every time I respawn.

Given that the game is still in its beta form, the other major problems include a multitude of bugs and glitches. The animations are quite choppy and the collision detection can be downright abysmal. There are numerous level design errors strewn everywhere. Camera issues arise inside Master Roshi’s house, to the point where, when you put your character into flight, you may just find yourself stuck in the ceiling or in the wall, wondering how the hell you are going to get out of this mess. I actually had to have a teammate kick me and blast me a few times before I could pull myself out of the floorboards.

Another downside is the lack of actual power balance in the game. You see, Dragonball Source implements an interesting RPG system of stat-keeping onto the gameplay itself. It tracks your typical power, speed, Ki (energy) and other important details. For performing stunts such as getting a kill using your special move, such as Goku’s Kamehameha, you earn points towards improving your rank. These points make you a much more formidable opponent to your adversaries. The stats are saved to the server that you are playing on, but isn’t stored locally.

You’ll spend much of your time just trying to get the hell away from the strongest guys on the server while trying to augment your own character. Just trying to find the one person who didn’t hand me my ass on a big stick was a chore by itself. There needs to be a way for the server admin to implement a level cap for the people on the lower end of the spectrum, such as those that have just joined or are still learning the trade. Not only would this help balance the game, but it would also make it more enjoyable for those trying to have some fun.

An example of a Power Struggle between two foes.

An example of a Power Struggle between two foes.

Despite these issues, there are some real strengths. The maps themselves are beautiful to look at and, although the team didn’t try to accomplish a cell-shading effect like other teams have tried to do, you do actually feel as though you’re participating in an episode of Dragonball Z.

Even though there are areas that need work, this mod is actually pretty good for being one of the very few Dragonball Z mods out there. It is obvious that a lot of work has been put into this product. With the latest patch for the mod being released only two days after v0.1 came out of the gates, the team seems quite dedicated to seeing this project all the way through to top-notch quality. Hopefully, by the time time this mod reaches its first official release, the team will have streamlined most, if not all, of the issues that still plague the game.

Writer’s Note: This article was written in the third week of April. Changes may have been made to the mentioned bugs/glitches.

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