Who in North America and all of Japan hasn't heard of Dragon Ball Z? One of the most popular Anime series ever has brought many games over the years, and now brings a devastating sequel of Budokai 1 to the PS2. Goku and friends will be going through their anime future, supported by millions of people worldwide for years to come.
It's a fighting game, based on the anime series, where Humans, Aliens, Dragons, Dinosaurs, and a lot of other species live in the universe. An ancient race called "Sayians", who fight and train to be extremely powerful, are nearly extinct. Goku, his two sons, and his rival/friend Vegeta (and his son) are the only remains of this ancient race. Vegeta and Goku have had a long relationship, starting out as enemies, moving to neutral, and sort-of a team. Since they became a team (With many other friends that are in the same team, called Z-Fighters), many, many, many villains have attacked earth, and so far the Z-Team has fought them all back.
You start out in Dragon World mode, where you and an ally (or allies in alter missions) fight, starting from the first DBZ episode, to the latest saga. Dragon world tells most of the story, although in some parts it's awkward from the original. Anyway, in Dragon World you and your allies (and your enemies as well) take turns moving one space at a time. If you land on a space with a powerup or enemy on it, you pick it up, or fight the enemy. Fighting of course happens in a regular fighting screen: two people on either side use many different attacks against each other to become the victor. Each person on the field has a bar next to their icon, which represents on the scale of 1 to 5 how many fights they can lose (AKA Health). Picking up items like Armours, Swords, or Capsules (skills) increases certain stats, or in the capsules' case, gives you a new skill. Capsules vary from Common, to Uncommon, Rare, and Ultra Rare. Based on the rarity, they are more and more powerful. The Swords/Armours are basic attack/defense bonuses that come in handy during battles. Also, Zennie (money) can be scurried among the map.
As you get later on into the Dragon World mode, you will find Dragon Balls (just like the aforementioned Zennie or sword/armour) which, when you collect all 7, summons a gigantic magical dragon named Shenron. Shenron doesn't appear until the very end of the game (until you beat it) and allows you to choose a single wish from 3 random wishes. These wishes can vary from Breakthrough capsules (nearly every single skill for that specific character) to the Ultra Rare cards. Once more, later in the Dragon World mode, you'll get further and further into the Saga, with more and more powerful Villains. Of course, the Z-Fighters can't stay weak and beat them, so they have to train hard. This is why the Saiyians can become Super Saiyians. Super Saiyians don't end there either - up to Super Saiyian 3 can be achieved (Of course, SSJ3 [Super Saiyian 3] is Ultra Rare, so expect to work HARD). These new forms of SSJ are more powerful than the last and offer new skill capsules that can be used (while looking really cool!)
Among SSJ, is Fusion. Fusion is where two characters perform a small ritual, and do a little dance. After the dance, if it was all successful, a new (and extremely more powerful) character emerges. These fusions bring new life and excitement to the game, such as Gotenks - Goten and Trunks fused into a purple/black haired Super Saiyian with incredible power. Although, you only get this power for about 25 seconds, and then if you get knocked down once, you lose the fusion (but you can do it again). Fusions are extremely fun to play with when you get them.
Controls are still really simple, if not really really easy. Instead of having to punch 4 times and then using the Energy button, its as simple as hitting -> + Energy to do the Kamehameha wave (or the normal attack of other characters). Although, more powerful attacks such as the Super Spirit Bomb require a slightly more complex button-mash.
Probably the only let down is that there's no story mode in the game. But gameplay has changed a lot, adding new characters (34 in total now) and simplifying the control scheme. A big plus to last year's Budokai 1!
Still voice-acted by the actual crew (except for a few characters like Krillin, Videl, and Gohan) of the animated series, and still sounding great. Dialogue goes along smoothly between characters, and during battles/Dragon World mode there is usually a DBZ track playing (which also sounds excellent). Not really much changed besides better music and slightly different voices (and more voices added too). Still keeping DBZ up to date, and doing it well.
The #1 newest addition. Cel-Shading has replaced the bland old Budokai 1 engine, making it extremely relative to the show. Characters have all of the lines and shadows that make them look great. All of the new beams (and old ones too) are looking brighter, more colorful, and actually blend with the game itself. Levels are detailed to the core building (except some maps, where the textures look a little bland and uneven). Overall, the Cel-Shading is nearly as close as it can get to the show (without being in the show itself). It does VERY well on the eyes, and provides much eye-candy for this type of game.
Ah, the joy of killing each other because your new enemy just ate the last Oreo, and now you want to give him a nice pounding to the face. You and a friend/enemy can play one on one with custom set-up characters, and fight to the death about who's cooler: Vegeta or Gotenks. Elite battles happen in MP, as you can move through Tournament mode just like in the anime, each randomly assigned and fight up to each other for the prize cash. This and the ability to play 4 different minigames (have to be unlocked by beating the game, and wishing for Babidi's Ship), which provide much fun outside fighting. MP is much more complex and dastardly than all else in the game (besides Dragon World). Greatly expanded past Budokai 1.
If you're a DBZ fan, you're obligated to go out and buy this game. It is much much better than the original, and provides hours of fun (especially with a friend), which is awesome. The Cel-Shading looks authentic to the show, and the expanded skills and characters (plus Fusions and SSJ3) really make the overall experience better. Although, once you beat the game and get ALL of the capsules available, it kind of becomes boring. Hardcore and Softcore DBZ fanatics, go out and buy. Novices to DBZ, rent first.