[Review] Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Namco Bandai Games; Developer: Tecmo Koei; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 28, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site
Since Dynasty Warriors: Gundam’s original announcement, fans of both Gundam and hack-and-slashers alike have been absolutely giddy about the prospect of cutting down and blowing up thousands of mobile suits. Since then, the games have pumped up the fan service even more and awe practically every Gundam fan in its presence. The newest installment, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is no exception. Speaking as an enthusiast of the Universal Century stories myself, this is the game I’ve been waiting for yet again.
The biggest difference that players will notice is the game’s new cel-shaded graphics, which more closely resembles an anime’s than any Dynasty Warriors: Gundam before it. It’s practically an interactive episode of Gundam Evolve, a series of CG animated shorts from the universe. Further immersing players into the mecha franchise’s world, all the original voice actors reprise their roles for their respective characters in both English and Japanese, a welcome option that was conspicuously absent from the last game.
One of the primary reasons that Gundam is such a perfect fit for the hack-and-slash genre is that the protagonists throughout the series are truly worth a thousand. The new chain reaction mechanic, which damages nearby units when a mobile suit blows up, easily leads to moments where almost a hundred enemies can blow up in one instance and, short of cinematics, is the closest recreation of the adrenaline-pumping, crowd-destroying battles from Gundam that any game has had so far. On top of that, new assist characters that can be called at the push of a button and the series’ trademark extensive combo system, where players can dash out of an attack and continue a combo string, ensure that the action never dies down.
Unlike the core Dynasty Warriors series, maps are split into zones that players can conquer or lose to enemies. In previous entries of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, these had no real purpose other than to cut a level into disjointed segments. This time around, zones actually have a dedicated function, such as providing backup, providing assist units, or even catapulting players into various parts of the map. This actually provides a strategic element to some levels, enticing players to conquer certain zones before moving onto others. This is highly recommended, because the difficulty has been amped up. Although capable of dying multiple times before a meter dictates that resources have been used up, players can be taken down in a matter of seconds by one or two combos by an opponent. Thankfully, the new emergency dash feature allows players to dash away in the middle of an assault at the cost of boost meter. Not only does this keep the pace of the game high, but it is a great representation of the dodge-centric battles from the anime series.
Like in previous installments, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 has both original and historical missions that recreate segments from various parts of the anime. The primary reason to play through the former is to unlock all the characters, slowly allowing players to control any mobile suit from fan favorites like the Nu Gundam and iconic mobile suits like the Gyan to those that most American fans may not have even seen yet. Aside from this collection aspect lays Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3’s main problem for Gundam fans and gamers alike. After playing through a couple of maps, players will begin to recognize the same maps being recycled a few times too many. Even worse, the writing in the original story is dubious at best for Gundam aficionados. While an alliance between Banagher Links and Char Aznable is believable and quite comical, Kai Shiden and Hayato Kobayashi should have been highly suspicious of Char, considering the conflict they went through during the One Year War. As far as combining mecha storylines, the Super Robot Wars series does a much better job. The writing from Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 only feels like a sloppily written fan fiction in comparison.
Despite the questionable story and constantly reused levels, fans will power through just for the opportunity to try out and collect all of the game’s mecha. The gameplay is both action-packed and a great recreation of the anime’s atmosphere. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3’s new design and mechanics make the game feel fresh while keeping the trademark fast paced gameplay that first reeled in gamers. Few licensed Gundam games do the job of both being a fun game and providing great fan service, and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is definitely one that does.
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.