Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2
In just about every way Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 plays exactly the same as the original game. Sure there are new modes, new characters, and a ton of new Gundams to pilot, but the core of the game is still hack 'n slash and man oh man is there a lot of it. Then again if you've every played a Dynasty Warriors game then you undoubtedly know that already. All you're going to be doing in each mission is flying from one area of the map to another and fighting enemies until you take over that region. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
I suppose Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 wouldn't be so repetitive if it spiced things up a bit. Too many objectives are the same and while each Gundam plays a little differently, it ultimately boils down to pressing buttons for combo attacks, pulling off special moves, blocking, and dashing. There's almost no variety to the combat and virtually no challenge from the thousands of enemies thrown in your path. Only boss encounters liven things up a smidge, and even they don't offer much of a change to the fighting aside from some button pressing mini games that pop up when your melee weapons clash.
As far as the game's modes are concerned it's worth noting that the gameplay is the same in each. The Official Mode returns to this game and just like before, this one features a storyline that you must play through. Some cut scenes liven things up a bit and the reward of playing comes in the form of Licenses for other Gundam models and the ability to unlock new characters for the Mission Mode. Ironically it's the latter mode that is more robust and interesting than the Official one.
In Mission Mode you've given a plethora of missions to undertake and it's basically up to you to do so as you see fit. The missions are broken up into categories such as Story, Friendship, Extra, Collection, License, etc. As you play through you'll develop relationships with other pilots (good or bad) and its those relationships that affect how you progress, what missions unlock, and stuff like that. There is a fair amount of depth in this mode and with the vast amount of missions and pilots to use you could literally spend months going through its many features. It's daunting to say the least and it takes some time before you begin to feel like you're getting anywhere.
As far as the other modes go there is a Versus Mode via local connection or you can take your Mobile Suits online and see how you fair against someone over Xbox Live. The amount of games available is very limited and pretty much the only way you're going to find someone else to play with is by creating your own match and waiting. Unfortunately there are achievements tied into the Xbox Live component, so if you're looking for that 1,000 gamerscore it's going to be frustrating. Regardless of that fact the modes, like War and Sudden Death do breathe some life into the experience with some variety.
If you're returning to the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam label then you should also be aware that there are now large scale boss encounters. These towering mechs are quite the fearsome encounter, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. While you may be able to plod your way through enemy after enemy, these big guys are really the only ones with actual weak spots (which are indicated by green arrows). You have to do a charge attack in order to knock them down, or jump to access some specific areas. It's a challenge because in each encounter the camera locks onto them. For the rest of the game you have to more or less manually control the camera, but for these instances you have no choice but to look at the big guy. Imagine how that must be when you're surrounded by hundreds of enemies and other mini-bosses while being unable to see what's in your path. It's frustrating and leads to many cheap hits.
Camera issues aside, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is what you'd expect it would be. The game is a worthy sequel to the original and there are enough new additions to entice you if you enjoyed that. However, for anyone else I can't really recommend the title. The Dynasty Warriors gameplay hasn't changed in nearly a decade and it's archaic by just about anyone's standards. This game is just a button mashing affair steeped with Gundam lore, and it's just no fun after a couple of hours. It's the same bloody mission over and over again with the occasional new Mobile Suit as a carrot to keep you motivated. Anyone interested should consider this a rental at best.
The achievement set in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is virtually impossible to get. You'd literally have to play this game every day for weeks or months in order to have a shot at all 1,000 points. There is a blend of achievements for some online play (good luck with those), achievements for playing 100 or 200 missions (which generally last 10 to 15 minutes each), killing 10,000 or 100,000 enemies, beating mission mode with 1, 5, 10, or all characters, and beating the official mode with everyone. There really are less than 40 achievements in the game and they all suck to get.
This game would look pretty darned good if it were a PlayStation 2 title. Unfortunately that's not the case and this game pales in comparison to expectations of a next generation title. Character models are bland, the environments lack detail, the cut scenes are blah, and all around the textures just don't cut it. Everything is simply too dated looking to really make a positive impression. I will say that the menus are attractive enough and the game does the Gundam license well in terms of design. Sadly just about everything else falls short of expectations and standards.
The audio is a mixed bag as well, but it fairs slightly better than the graphics do. The soundtrack is decent even though it's repetitive and the voice work is faithful to the show. There are no groundbreaking moments with regards to the cast. They just do an adequate job with the material they were given. The sound effects are generally fine and come across on the soundstage nicely, though they do tend to lack that punch one would look for in a title such as this.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is a repetitive and bland hack 'n slash experience with a thick anime coat of paint. Koei hasn't changed the formula for the franchise in quite some time, and if you've played one Dynasty Warriors, you've more or less played them all. That's a shame really because this franchise had some true potential. As it stands though, only the diehard faithful to both series will get any enjoyment out of this title. Curious fans of the show could consider this a light rental.