Who would have thought an offshoot of a long running series that already has plenty of offshoots would be so well received? Gundam surprised many with it’s full on mech action when it arrived a few years ago but on the 3rd release can we really expect any more?
Considering the first two games have now covered most of the chronology of the Gundam series Koei have created a brand new story, starting with Amuro Ray following a strange beacon in space and finding himself involved in a huge war as he meets characters like Setsuna, Banagher Links and Garrod Ran in this generation spanning story.
Though the action is relatively the same as every other Dynasty Warriors experience, the rest of the game has had a huge overhaul and is so much the better for it. On the battlefield you will rely on a simple set of close and ranged attacks to create combos plus a special gauge that charges as you fight to pull off a huge special move involving a barrage of swords and lasers. You are not alone in battle and will come across many other Gundam units that will assist, be it the lower powered mechs that hold control of areas or some familiar faces from the TV shows that will link their abilities with yours to pull off even more powerful special moves.
The mission layouts are varied, assigning you such tasks taking out a certain enemy or capturing a piece of land, it’s quite familiar to other Dynasty Warriors games in this respect, but that’s no bad thing. One major difference is that this time the map layout has had a massive revamp, now the battlefields have been split into areas, with most having some kind of strategic advantage, leaving it to you to capture each one; like launch-pads that allow for fast travel to certain areas, armour factories to boost allies and partner areas that unlock the ability for you to call in assistance from a friendly Gundam.
The depth of Gundam 3 is immense with each mech and pilot you play as (and later unlock) having numerous upgrades available to purchase in-between fights. Stats like energy, mêlée power and armour are available to boost depending on the space available plus you can develop and equip new skills like a more powerful dash attack or faster thruster charge. Playing as each character will also unlock more story, challenge and friend missions as over the plentiful character line-up available each has their own story thread based on their allegiances during the events that occur, bringing them all together for one final battle and making replaying a must for those hard-core amongst us.
Online play has always been a bit hit and miss in the Dynasty series and though this is one of the better attempts, it still falls a little short. There are 15 four player missions to take on, each earning you plenty of cash, experience points and new Gundam plans with the missions ranging from capture all fields to boss fights. The difficulty is specifically set for four mechs but if you play as a low rank with higher experienced players (Japan has had this game for months) the level is over before you know it; in numerous battles against Dark Gundam I found that as soon as the level had loaded up he was pretty much defeated. With this in mind the levels are relatively easy and are over in an instant, so it would be good to see more DLC and better team balance for this mode in future.
As with previous entries the amount of unlockable extras is a Gundam fans wet dream with detailed models of mechs and an in-depth encyclopaedia giving details of all of the characters that take part in this huge era-spanning story.
It’s hard to see where Koei will improve the visuals in future outings on the PS3 as this game looks amazing; the graphics engine manages to create some outstanding, well created mechs with a high level of detail that make them look like they are straight from the TV shows, plus it can throw hundreds of enemies at you at once. In certain points of the game you can barely move for the amount of cannon fodder on screen; the action rarely lets up with laser sword effects and mech parts flying all over the place with no slowdown whatsoever. Even the cut scenes and mid mission character chatter look and sound great, really keeping true to the Gundam TV show.
Having always championed the Dynasty series, it is great to see so many improvements made for Gundam 3, making it so much more than just mashing buttons like so many other publications will tell you, this is the version you have all been waiting for, a solid, action packed game that has giant robots, a spiraling story and anime quality graphics, what more do you need?
Rating: Excellent Review policy
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is out this Friday, you can order here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).