Dynasty Warriors: Gundam
"No, you get your Dynasty Warriors game away from my Gundam! Hey… here's an idea…"
That's right boys and girls, I'm sure it went something like that. Whatever the case or however it happened the fact remains; Dynasty Warriors: Gundam was created and it's one of the most intelligent pairings of franchises I have seen in a long time.
The gamer with discriminating taste may be shrugging their shoulders or thumbing their nose at the idea. I mean, it's not like we don't have enough Dynasty Warriors games. And for that matter just about every Gundam title has failed beyond compare. Does this game do anything different for either license by bringing them together? The unfortunate answer to that question is "not really".
When you fire up the title you'll be presented with a bevy of options though the most prominent selections will be Official Mode and Original Mode. Essentially they are stand alone single-player campaigns each with different characters to play as and stories to trudge through. Trust me when I tell you that no matter what version you're playing you're going to be confounded by the plot in no time. It doesn't matter if you sleep in Gundam pajamas and drink from a light-up MS sippy cup; the story in this game makes no sense. It's a bizarre amalgamation of different facets of the Gundam franchise and each piece is slapped together incoherently. My advice is to skip the cut scenes and story bits in order to save yourself a headache. Save your Tylenol for the actual gameplay; you're going to need it.
Do you appreciate mind-numbing repetition? How about fighting against enemies whose sole purpose is to stand there and make you look good? Yes, the Dynasty Warriors franchise has never been one to offer a deep control system or experience; unfortunately that fault can also be found in the Gundam edition.
Wave after wave of enemy units will encircle you, run to your direction, or simply stand there and wait for you to come to them. Once that happens you'll be pounding the attack button relentlessly and occasionally throwing in a ranged strike for good measure. As you mash the buttons and build up a meter there will be a special attack that can be used as well, though there isn't much point. Your opponents will simply drop in front of you as though you're chopping through falling leaves with a lightsaber equipped with a leaf-blowing attachment.
Bosses appear every once in a while to spruce things up and provide some much needed revision of strategy. "What's this? The boss is actually blocking? Wow, I hadn't planned for that..." The sad fact is that the bosses themselves are a little too easy. Sometimes they'll get behind you for a couple of cheap hits but like the listless AI of his teammates you can expect him to succumb to your relentless laser sword flogging.
Now, despite the fact that you're basically a warm knife cutting your way through softened butter, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam can be fun. When you first begin the campaign (Original or Official – it doesn't matter) you'll have a blast. The simplistic presentation, ease of use, and never-ending supply of crap to destroy will leave arcade-junkies happy. Initially I was transfixed by the game but as time wore on I became less and less enchanted. That sense of awe and enjoyment gave way to repetition and boredom faster than I could make heads or tails of the plot. Side note: I still haven't made heads or tales of the plot.
If you do happen to be a Dynasty Warriors fanatic and love Gundam then you're in luck because there are plenty of customizable rewards presented to you during the course of your game. Like the rest of the Dynasty Warriors franchise this incarnation grants you more playable characters as you progress through. Each pilot has a mobile suit associated with them and while they are more or less similar thanks to the repetitive gameplay there are some subtleties that set them apart from one another.
Also a nice feature that's included here is the ability to raise pilot and mobile suit levels. You'll notice a slight difference in performance when this occurs but in all honesty it's not enough to make drastic changes to the way the game plays. There are some power-ups as well and prior to mission starts you can equip items or pilot abilities based on what you've earned so far. Some players will eat this up and easily get by the fact that they're pressing the same button a thousand times over. Of course a majority of you will undoubtedly say "boring" and move on.
At the end of the day Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is an intriguing endeavor that seeks to capture the best of both worlds. Unfortunately a convoluted plot and mind-numbingly simplistic gameplay make for a very boring experience. The Dynasty Warriors series really needs to institute some changes in order to survive but I guess they've found a big enough audience if titles keep coming out. We've arguably been playing the same game again and again over the past few years. Unless you're a diehard fan of both entities the best I could suggest for this title is a weak rental.
Ironically in order to collect one of the fifteen achievement points for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam you actually have to commit to the game. You want to beef up your Gamerscore? You'd better be ready to beat the game with every character, max out stats and levels, and kill 50,000 enemies. In my opinion playing the game that much isn't a worthy commitment but if you happen to love droning your way through Dynasty Warriors then congratulations; you'll find these achievements easy enough to get.
Considering this is the second Gundam game to grace a next generation platform I was hoping for a more advanced look. While Dynasty Warriors: Gundam isn't ugly by any means it certainly doesn't push the technology to the limits. Character models are decently designed though some of them, like the enemies, lack some finer details and don't really stand out. Luckily the artistic look matches the Gundam universe right down the line. Fans will definitely find some things to cheer about but I can't help be bored with the same animations, lackluster textures, and lazy design.
Ok, let's get something straight; I'm not going to bitch about the English language track. All I'm going to say is that the English dub is terrible and I didn't bother listening to it after the first mission. Luckily the original Japanese dub is included which was much easier to digest though it was by no means a masterpiece. Like the countless waves of enemies you'll be face the sound effects become repetitive. The music also doesn't impress and the overall presentation of the audio feels flat.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a sloppy game. The graphics and audio are below average by today's standards and the gameplay suffers from repetition, lack of strategy, and terrible pacing. Both game franchises have their own reputations to uphold and if you're a fan of either's past endeavors you'll probably appreciate the attempt here. However, if you're looking for a title with depth and one that's fun to play you'll want to look elsewhere. The best I can muster for this title is a rental suggestion if it peaks your interest.