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Review: Dynasty Warriors Gundam

Posted Jul-10 2008 by ron, created under common review policies
For PS3, no harddrive install.


The game is structured into reasonably short missions, somewhere between ten and thirty minutes each, where your goal is usually to conquer all fields, or to defeat all enemy commanders. The approach to these missions would be easy enough to plan out if it weren't for many events that happen mid-mission, usually presented through radio dialog or short cut-scenes. At times gates open or close, underground passages get flooded, enemy reinforcements drop onto prior empty space and erect a new field and so on. Likewise, the need to protect allied commanders gives players frequent reasons to reconsider their current objective and rush across the map.
The game stars a couple dozen playable characters, each of which has one or two short campaigns (four missions usually) to play through. These are really just two campaigns total, but each time with remixed levels, altered objectives and different dialog to produce a different perspective on a battle you most likely already took part in previously.

A map displaying units and colored areas

This handy map shows you which fields are up for grabs, and where the commanders, allied or otherwise, currently are. This here is from pre-mission briefing, but you can pull up the map mid-mission as well.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam has mild RPG elements, too: your character gains experience points and levels up, which not only increases attack and defense paramters, but also unlocks new skills (e.g. shots pierce through multiple enemies, faster boost recovery, that sort of thing). Likewise the mobile suits level up as well, which unlocks bigger, better and most importantly longer special attacks, that can be unleashed after charging up a greenish-yellow gauge in regular combat. The player can also collect parts that can be equipped prior to a mission to boost stats. All in all this gives completionists a whole lot to do, and also sweetens failed missions somewhat, as you'll already start out stronger on your next try.
The whole thing can probably be played for endless amounts of time, and there's nice variation between the different playable mobile suits at least, even if you don't care one bit for the drama. Considering the significant rehashing of content, the game feels finished long before you've beaten the last of its mini-campaigns. we estimate that the average player would have seen enough after about 25 to 30 hours.


Our rating for Dynasty Warriors Gundam

+1, good score

Classification (not part of the rating)

Story focus: two spontaneous rampages
Style focus: four submarines in space
Mechanics focus: five hammers

Robot-vs-robot combat perfection takes a definite back-seat. Dynasty Warriors Gundam's gameplay revolves mostly around speedy dispatch, smart selection of your next epicenter of carnage, and efficient covering of terrain. By that it is guilty of defying expectations, but the formula is still quite valid, if gamers are just willing to approach it without projecting the rules of other sub-genres onto it. Just because it has combos doesn't mean it's Devil May Cry. If you want to play it that way, disappointment will be inevitable. So don't.
As sound as the basic gameplay is, there are significant weaknesses on the content side. There are very few distinct locales, and the simple graphics don't provide an excuse either. Thankfully it runs at a nice and solid 60 fps, and the robot models are fine as well. Just try to not look at the trees.

A closeup of two huge robots locking swords

Say, have we met before? Characters change sides, reappear incognito under different names, and are generally quite talkative with each other. Dynasty Warriors Gundam is thin on plot, but attaches a lot of personality to its ever-interacting cast.

It was really fun playing it, and yielded good mileage before the repetition became too obvious. The biggest potential obstacle to your enjoyment is your basic compatibility with the idea of playing not the superstar action hero, but just a cog in a bigger war machine. You're not strictly deciding, but rather tipping the scales, influencing a bigger battle around you, and merely hammering out your favourite combos just isn't the most effective way to do that.
The easy way to find out your inclination is of course the demo that should still be up on the PSN. Going from that starting point, we can definitely confirm that the full game delivers on all its promises. Nice gameplay variations, a good progression of difficulty and slicing robots in half with nothing more than your own steel-plated fists. It's all there.

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