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|“Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2”: Robotic in Many Ways|
|Lifestyle - Gaming|
|Written by Luke Hamilton|
|Friday, 22 May 2009 08:36|
In 2007, the Dynasty Warriors franchise branched out from its "hack and slash" games based on the epic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and went into the future, teaming up with the anime space drama Mobile Suit Gundam. While the resulting game was vastly different from previous Gundam games that were rooted in technical aspects, the hybrid was successful. Now (just in time for Gundam's 30th anniversary) comes the second installment of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, adding new mobile suits, pilots, original stories, and the inclusion of colossal Gundams. But unless you're a Gundam fan, there's little chance you'll appreciate this game for longer than an hour or two.
Dynasty Warriors games are known for being violent adventures in which you're thrown into a battle as a one-man army and almost entirely focus on fighting waves of enemies with swords and spears. Mobile Suit Gundam games have mostly focused on the giant machine suits and lacked the huge battles of the Gundam animated series, in which enemies are mowed down left and right. Combining these franchises creates the best representation of the Gundam series, putting players right into massive action without worrying about things like repairs or ammunition.
Players can jump into the "Official Mode" and play through the main story of the series. While key moments are re-created, the story is still splintered and only scratches the surface of each character's tale. There is also the new "Mission Mode," which involves original stories with pilots from every storyline fighting against one another. A second player can team up and fight in campaigns, or both players can tear each other up instead.
Battles consist of taking over enemy fields to gain a territorial advantage. Enemies on a field are limitless until enough units have been destroyed, or until enemy defense commanders have been defeated. Battles continue until the player is destroyed or certain conditions have been met, ranging from protecting your allies to destroying a set number of basic enemies to defeating a rival pilot. A counter lets players know how many units have been beaten, and the body count can easily reach the thousands during some battles.
There's a variety of things to do outside of the story modes, as well. Players can build friendships with other mobile-suit pilots to increase teamwork abilities, earn licenses to use another pilot's signature Gundam, upgrade parts to increase the abilities of more than 60 playable mobile suits, or hop online and battle it out with friends.
The only hard part is the motivation to do any of it. Other than the part upgrades, everything else revolves around the same battle style against unvarying enemies aside from the pilots, causing the game to quickly become repetitive. Other Dynasty Warriors games suffer from the same problem, and it takes either a serious fan or a great enjoyment in fighting hundreds of enemies at once to stay interested in everything that is offered. Other games, such as God of War, have you fighting tons of enemies, but there's enough variation in the enemy types that it stays compelling, rather than the mindless destruction of Dynasty Warriors.
The learning curve for fighting is streamlined. Most times all you do is mash away with close-range attacks, occasionally using the long-range attack to perform one of several special moves depending on the number of strikes already used. Once enough damage has been dealt/received, the "SP gauge" next to your suit's health bar will fill up, and a super-attack can be employed based on your Gundam's abilities. (Wing Gundam Zero blasts everything in range with his beam cannons, while Burning Gundam grabs one enemy and annihilates it.) It's gratifying to take out 40 to 50 enemies in one move, but the consistency of these attacks grows tedious.
Visually, the mobile suits are passable with their 3D models, but when compared to other anime-related titles with cel-shaded graphics, they don't have the same touch to them. Fans will appreciate the care taken in each Gundam's presentation, such as Gundam Epyon having strictly close-range attacks, keeping the game models true to their anime counterparts.
Environments can be bland at times, with buildings and structures falling apart when a Gundam walks anywhere near them. The music has a dynamic action tune to it and fits the game well, but because there are only a few main themes that play during combat, the music, too, grows old quickly.
Thirty years since its creation - with more than a dozen branching anime series, several animated movies, and massive toy and model lines - it's obvious that Gundam has lasting popularity, especially in Japan, with a 60-foot-tall "life size" Gundam replica being built in honor of its anniversary. But while Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is by far the best video game either franchise has had, that still isn't saying much. Fans of the giant war machines will be wrapped up in destroying countless enemy mobile suits; everyone else will see fighting so repetitive you could actually call it robotic.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $59.95, and PlayStation 2 for $29.95. The author completed Official Mode and 21 characters stories in Mission Mode, and tested the online functions.
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