What happens when you take two popular Japanese franchises and crudely smash them together until you get a videogame? Ask Namco Bandai and Koei, who pooled together to create Dynasty Warriors Gundam, a perfectly shameless corporate crossover that melds the battlefield button mashery of Dynasty Warriors with the jabbering anime bullcrap of Gundam.
It doesn't even have anything to do with the Dynasty Warriors games, so sticking Dynasty in the title is pointless. It could have been called Gundam Warriors but that wouldn't have been as marketable. The very fact that Dynasty Warriors was cynically plastered onto the title is enough to tell you what this game is all about -- name power and money making.
Is it any good though? Considering about five of you (if that) have actually played it, hitting that jump is the only way to find out.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam (PS3, 360 [Reviewed])
Developed by Omega Force
Published by Koei
Released on August 28th, 2007 (US), November 9th, 2007 (UK)
A Dynasty Warriors fan I may be, but a Gundam follower I be not. A did try and watch some of the original Mobile Suit Gundam episodes a while back, but they were so boring that my eyes turned into marbles and rolled out the door. With this in mind I must confess that I had absolutely no idea what was going on. All I can fathom is that some people don't like each other, but it's okay because they have massive robotic Mobile Suits that they pilot so they can resolve their differences by fighting and smashing stuff. All the while, they say things like "I have the O" and "We've got the Radish" while taking themselves completely seriously.
Players of previous Dynasty Warriors games will know what to expect from the core gameplay. You are a lone Mobile Suit pilot in the middle of a battle and it's your job to lead one side to victory by tapping some buttons until everything is dead. Hundreds of weaker peons will gladly run into your weapons while tougher opposing generals provide a more stern challenge. Gundam takes a page from Koei's Empires spin-off sequels by dividing the map into a certain number of "fields." Your main role will be to take over enemy-occupied fields by rushing in and killing a certain number of troops, sometimes disposing of a tougher guard to seal the deal. It adds a layer of tactical depth and keeps the gameplay slightly more interesting, though it's hardly revolutionary.
The gameplay, at its heart, remains unchanged from previous Warriors games and indeed the same simple-yet-addictive button mashing fun can be had. However, due to a slower pace, a more limited moveset and endless battles set in black, dull outer space, Gundam is certainly less thrilling, and sometimes even a little boring. Unlike in previous games, there seems no way to actually expand your Mobile Suit's regular moveset. One of the joys of prior games was discovering new weapons that added further attacks to your combo. In Gundam, however, you'll see almost everything your chosen Suit has to offer by the end of the first battle. Aside from an extension to your musou-like attack that appears as your progress, very little seems to get added to your offensive arsenal, which is a big shame.
Gundam attempts to counter this by adding a slightly more expanded amount of customization options. You can uncover new Suit parts on the battlefield which boost your chosen Mobile Suit's attributes and there are many different parts to discover. Furthermore, both the pilots and the Mobile Suits level up seperately, adding even more depth. All of this, however, is still reasonably shallow and a poor replacement for extra movesets.
There are two main singleplayer modes -- Official mode and Original mode. Official mode is supposed to follow a canonical timeline of the anime show, which I believe is set in the Universal Century (you anime geeks will be able to make sense of that one). It's also not very fun, and were it not for the Original mode, this game wouldn't be even half as high in my estimation as it is. Original Mode is a mash-up of various Gundam timelines, bringing a selection of different characters together and it's just much more enjoyable. The Mobile Suits are more fun to use and the characters are more entertaining than the whiny teenagers that make up half of the Official Mode's cast.
This is the first Warriors game to be made specifically for current-gen systems and so it's important to look at the graphics. While never in any danger of giving BioShock or Mass Effect a run for their money, the visuals of Dynasty Warriors Gundam get the job done and by no means look ghastly. Even when there are a slew of enemies onscreen there is no slowdown either, which is pleasing. Sadly, far too many stages are set in space, which means you'll see very boring black backgrounds for much of the time.
As for the sound, Koei saw fit to include a Japanese voice option, which will please many, although I wouldn't recommend listening to anything that's being said anyway. I almost burst out laughing when some spacefarer was chatting about his Radish. The English voiceovers are at best horrible and at worst annoying whilst the script was not written for normal people to enjoy. That's anime for you, though.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam is not a bad game, but it's certainly nothing special, nor will it be as fun for Warriors fans as the real thing. It's certainly challenging and will keep hack n' slash fans occupied for a few hours, but the combat can feel very loose and undefined, enemies are big fans of cheap shots and the lack of expandable fighting options is a drain. Also, Official mode is terrible and only saved by the far more enjoyable Original mode.
There are far, far worse games out there, so if you're stuck for something to do one weekend and need something mindless to play, I would recommend taking this one out for a night or two.
reviewed by Jim Sterling