You've got to admire game developers trying something different. Sometimes new ideas prosper, while others times they fail. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z falls in the latter category sadly.
Dragon Ball Z games have been coming out to the West ever since 2002. Since that year, Namco Bandai has released a new Dragon Ball Z game annually making subtle changes to make each game feel and look different than the other. The only things that have remained the same is the story and the cel-shaded visuals. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z changes the formula slightly as it's a 4 player co-op beat-em-up as opposed to a traditional one-on-one fighting game.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z tries its best to redefine the fighting game genre, and I respect that. The sad part of this though is that it's executed badly because the gameplay itself feels cluttered and unpolished. It feels like you're playing a 3D action game, yet you're confined to a small arena. The end result feels like a game that doesn't know what genre it wants to be and this is where the mess of this game becomes apparent.
The game's perspective is from "behind-the-character" so it plays like a third-person action game more than the side-on view from most other fighting games. You can somewhat roam around and fly within the confines of the fighting arena. It's quite fun flying around, although the actual fighting mechanics ruin this experience because it is not polished at all.
I understand that the fights from the actual Dragon Ball Z manga/anime are fast paced, but it does not translate really well as a video game. Sometimes the camera is too slow to catch up to the action and I would struggle to see what the heck was going on. On top of that, your allies are all flying around like monkeys as well and the whole thing turns out to be a cluttered mess.
In terms of the story, the only new thing they have added is a portion from a new Dragon Ball Z movie called Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. This is where Goku turns into a Super Saiyan God and battles a sphinx called Beerus. This is the only cool part of the game because, the rest of the game treads the same stories that DBZ fans have seen over ten years ago. I cannot believe they're still releasing new Dragon Ball Z games in 2014 that follow the same storylines. I think it's about time they make up their own storylines for once.
The worst part about this "fighting game" is that it only has online multiplayer. I was looking forward to playing this game offline with my brother and going a few rounds. I couldn't do this obviously as the new perspective would be too restricted if it were played via a split screen view. I tried a few games online, but it's not really fun since I wasn't playing with my brother or my friends. Not to mention it took a while for me to play online since the online community for this game is minuscule.
The only thing I liked about the game is that they've managed to keep most of the original English voice actors from the anime. Also, the graphics are still great as the cel-shaded character models and environments never look outdated.
Apart from the voice acting and graphics, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z offers nothing of value. The fighting mechanics are very awkward and the single player mode gets really repetitive and boring after just a few minutes of playing. The worst part of it all is that you're playing through the same old storylines again too. Even if you are a huge fan of Dragon Ball Z, Battle of Z is not worth the price of admission.
5.5 out of 10