What's old is new.
Sometimes all a tired old franchise needs is a proper reworking and it all seems fresh again. Now, I say this partly because I've been re-playing Vice City on my 360 (still awesome!) but also because I've been given the task of reviewing Dynasty Warriors: Gundam for GR (not so awesome). Anyway, my point is that sometimes all it takes is a new coat of polish or a couple new bells and whistles and a game you either played to death, or didn't like to begin with, is suddenly interesting. For those who've played previous versions of the Dynasty Warriors series before, you know this is a franchise badly in need of a reboot.
[image1]The game offers three modes of play: Official, Original and Versus. The Official mode is a series of missions based on the actual Gundam series, so – again – if you're a Gundamophile here's some more license specific content for you to enjoy. (And it's important to note that this game is definitely geared towards longtime fans of the Gundam). Original mode is “original” to the game and offers a series of missions based around a “mysterious” (because – let's face it – “mundane” just doesn't have the same cache) planet. Versus mode is self explanatory, but let me explain it anyway: this is where you go mano-a-mano with a friends for trash talking rights to the Gundam universe.
To begin you choose from three characters – Loran Cehack, Domon Kasshu, or Heero Yuy – and their corresponding Gundam suit. As you play the game, there are additional characters, and even storylines, that can be unlocked. The different Gundam suits offer different upgrades and – therefore – different styles of gameplay, as far as it goes. Of course, that isn't very far considering the repetitive nature of the game. I mean, sure killing lots of stupid-ass robots in different suits offers a slightly different experience but at the end of the day, they're still really stupid-ass robots.
In terms of the game play ... well, I'd like to tell y'all that this here is the Dynasty Warriors game that offers a full, rich, and engrossing hack'n'slash experience ... but I don't want to lie to you (or – more accurately – Duke won't let me). Like the rest of the series Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a straight forward action game where you run around battle fields and kill hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of enemies. As you do this, you pick up upgrades left by your dead (though considerate) foes and use them to ... well, kill hundreds of more enemies.
And, alas, here's the rub. While running around killing stuff sure sounds like fun, and is something we've all spent way too many hours of our lives on (speaking strictly in terms of video games, of course, or so I hope), it's usually helpful if there's a compelling story, a revolutionary game play component, some diversity of game play, or ... something to keep our interest beyond the hacking and slashing.
The lack of that extra “something” has always been for me the Achilles' heel of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. In fact, not only do you not get a particularly cool story but the enemies in these games have perhaps the worst computer A.I... ever. Let's put it this way: they favor quantity over quality. In other words, there are hundreds of enemies for you to kill but mostly all they do is stand there letting you kill them.
[image2]So you're surrounded by twenty or so robots who seem to be waiting for you to smash them (again with the consideration!) instead of actually, you know, FIGHTING you. Given that killing is pretty much the only thing you do in this game, the pathetic A.I. only hastens the feelings of having been here and done this, and the game quickly becomes redundant to the point of being boring.
The news is not all bad, as the graphics in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam are definitely an upgrade over previous Dynasty Warriors offerings, mostly due to its moving to the PS3 and Xbox 360 high-def systems. The robots themselves and all the accompanying lasers, explosions, movement animations, etc. look crisp and clean. There is an issue with the cut scenes looking substantially better (less cartoony, almost live-action like) than the actual game but that's more a matter of style. As I said, the game looks nice.
However, the scale of the game does leave something to be desired. Normally when you play a Dynsaty Warrior, you play as a samurai – basically a little bad mo' fo' running around with a giant razor blade (and if you've ever been to a samurai exhibit at your local museum, that's exactly what samurai's were). In this game you play as a giant robot, with giant being the operative word. Sadly, the game doesn't look or feel any different than when you played it as a 5'2” Japanese warrior. Given that the people buying this game are likely to be attracted by the giant robot theme, they should feel like their character is ... well, giant, no?
The game sounds solid, but the real fun is in the dialog. Like most games translated from another language this game offers a treasure trove of unintentional comedy. For instance, woodenly delivered lines like “The two of you really creamed us titans in space. What I want to know is why?” will leave you on the floor twitching with laughter or, at the very least, asking philosophical questions like “if a Titan is creamed in space, does it make a sound?”
[image3]Speaking of philosophy, the undisputed king of the hilarious dialog in this game is your mentor Master Asia – a cross between Yoda and every sense/master from every cheesy Kung Fu movie ever. (Wait, maybe that's redundant because wasn't Yoda basically an amalgam of every sense character in Kung Fun history? Nevermind.) How do I know Master Asia is king, you ask? Simple, he told me so: “You don't know me? I am Master Asia, the undefeated of the East”. Clearly, what we need to do is set up a match between Master Asia and the undefeated of the Wast, just so we know who the true “undefeated” really is.
Aside from being a rather braggadocios fellow, Asia does offer wisdom – via dialog straight out of bad Kung Fu movies – on such important topics as how we label ourselves; “Ha! What is the 'Earth Federation'. What is 'elite'? Titles, no more!”; whether we share: “Ha ha ha! Selfish are we?”; how to handle adversity: “With proper footing you can defeat anything life throws at you”; and most importantly, advice on ordering fast food: “Small fries like these aren't even a good warm up”, which is – coincidently – what I say every time I eat at In'n'Out Burger. I'm telling you, the man positively spits wisdom.
In the end, I can't say Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a good game, but it's not a horrible one either. It looks and sounds great and running around killing robots is fun, at least for a couple of minutes. Really, though, I can only recommend this game to people who are fans of the Dynasty Warriors series or Gundam. If you are neither of the above, then there's nothing in this game you can't enjoy by renting it.