Monday, November 23, 2015

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (PS3, 360) Review

As a fan of a handful of Gundam series, it is with disappointment that I present to you this Better Late Than Never review. It's for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3, a game that visually looks striking-- at least the mobile suit part. Unfortunately, it takes more than beautiful cel-shaded mobile suit models to impress SuperPhillip Central. This review shows just that.

Gun...damn, is this game repetitive!

Last year I had the great experience of playing Hyrule Warriors, a Dynasty Warriors style game that featured The Legend of Zelda. Its gameplay and content were both quite excellent. Perhaps I should have lowered my expectations when entering another game with the Dynasty Warriors moniker, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3. Instead of a game that could easily be played for 50+ hours without complaints, I received a game that just would never end. I constantly wished for the massively boring and worthless story to be told to be over, thinking the game could go screw itself after fake ending after fake ending. Sadly, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is a turkey of a Dynasty Warriors game.

The story of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 takes all of the familiar and even unfamiliar pilots and characters across numerous Gundam series and puts them into a parallel world. The goal is to find their way out of this world, forging new alliances and participating in battle after battle until the whole thing gets horribly repetitive and wears out its welcome. I couldn't tell you much else about the story other than I was more than glad to just mash the X button to fast forward through the insanely cheesy dialogue. That was only after subjecting myself to some of the most inane discussions I've had to witness in quite a while. I know this is anime and all, but seemingly every conversation led nowhere or was the same thing only with different characters.

"Oh! You're in this parallel world, too? How did you get here?"
"I don't know. I'm going to tell you the last thing I did before I was transported to this world, and it's going to be similar to the fifty-six other characters' tales. Now, let's have forty more lines of dialogue that is positively aimless in order to annoy Phil."

While the story and especially the dialogue are better left for a high school drama student's audition, the presentation of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 gets points for being visually interesting, if only for the stars of the game, the mobile suits.. The amazing cel-shaded look of mobile suits really is eye-catching and look brilliant. Sure, everything else isn't very compelling, especially texture-wise, but at least what you control and you destroy look great. The music borrows some themes verbatim from past Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games, but that music wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination to begin with. If it ain't broke, right?

The mobile suits are indeed the star of the visual show.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is a cruel temptress. It promises a game packed with countless missions to complete, but they end up all being so similar to one another that one has to ask what the point is. Mission Mode from past Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games returns to the spotlight with this third installment. This time there are a smorgasbord of mission types to select from. History missions focus on reenactments of battles throughout an assortment of Gundam series like Mobile Suit Gundam, G Gundam, Gundam Wing, Turn A Gundam, among many others. In Collection missions, clearing these unlocks rare mobile suit designs to add to your arsenal. Memorial missions unlock after achieving certain in-game goals such as taking down 100 ace pilots, for instance.

It feels great to go in the middle of a huge group
of enemy mobile suits and take them all out.
There are also plenty of other types like the more difficult Challenge missions, Friendship missions, Relation, and Special missions to do. You might think that with all of these mission types that you'll have a lot of variety in the actual missions you battle in. You'd be thinking wrong, however.

Most battles in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 play out in a similar fashion. There are different areas of the map to capture for your side (e.g. repair hangars to replenish health of allies, mobile suit factory to replenish your forces' gauge, and catapults that can send you across the map in an instant), and the aim of a typical Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 mission is to get the enemy forces' gauge down to zero by capturing their controlled areas and defeating rival ace pilots. The former is performed by destroying enemy mobile suits within a given area; thus lowering the control gauge. When it hits zero, your side has taken over control of that area.

Don't mind me. I'm just upping my kill count.
When the enemy forces' gauge empties, the commander of the forces enters battle. Defeating him or her results in a victory. The same thing happens for your side's defeat as well. If your side's gauge hits zero and you or your commander are destroyed, it's game over.

It's only when you hit certain History missions that Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 offers any semblance of variety. Sometimes you'll be asked to take down 1,000 mobile suits. Others require the capturing of certain bases, while others are time limit oriented. These are so few and far between that you can't help but feel tedium rears its ugly head into the picture.

Additionally, the progression of missions is often too confusing or worse yet, totally obtuse. It's not a good sign when there's an interface that shows what missions are available to proceed in the game, and it isn't always the most up to date and helpful. Many times I'd be cycling through my assortment of Gundam and mobile suit pilots, hoping I'd pick the right one to advance the story.

When two ace pilots strike at the same time,
you get a scene and engagement such as this one.
The actual gameplay of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is done well enough. Mobile suits control tightly, and each have a nice sense of, well... mobility, about them. You can use a suit's thrusters to speed along the battlefield, though it can run out if used too much, requiring a quick cool-down period. Essentially only two buttons are used for attacks, square and triangle, and these need to be alternated to perform the more visually interesting and powerful combos from each mobile suit. In addition to regular attacks, you can utilize a super-strong special attack or call in a partner for some temporary destruction by sacrificing some energy from your mobile suit's special gauge. Heaven help you if you end up in a battle in a close quarters situation, though. The camera is not well suited for these types of engagements.

The Unicorn Gundam is burning red!
Hey, that's Domon Kasshu's gimmick!
After each battle, your pilot earns experience and can level up to a maximum level of 50. Each level earned grants higher stats like melee strength, shot strength, and armor strength. You also get mobile suits based on ace pilots you defeated and what suit you were piloting in that mission. Each boast different stats, and if you find a suit you really like, you can upgrade its slots with higher stats benefits for a price (each suit has a different amount of slots, and doing harder difficulties can grant you suits with up to 10 slots). This makes it where you can pilot immensely powerful mobile suits that can take down ace pilots like they were butter. It's pretty satisfying like much of the gameplay in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3.

That's why it's just a shame that the mission structure is so obtuse and the missions themselves seldom change things up. It makes Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 such a chore to play in extended sessions or even after a set amount of hours of total play time. Yes, the gameplay is still the good old fashioned Dynasty Warriors that fans of the series can enjoy, but the lack of mission variety hurts the game tremendously. Mission abort!

[SPC Says: D]

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