Namco Bandai / KOEIDeveloped By:
T (Teen)Release Date:
April 21, 2009Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Christian H.August 31, 2009
- In case the name didn't give it away, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a spin-off of the Dynasty Warriors series using settings and characters from the Mobile Suit Gundam series of anime. The first entry in the new series was released in 2007. It was a rather mediocre game, even by Dynasty Warriors standards, and appealed mostly as fan service. Now that Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is here, one thing is certain: This game is karmic retribution for my belief that the series had nowhere to go but up after the first game.
The game is divided into two primary modes. Official mode follows the canon storyline of the Universal Century timeline (the “main” Gundam series). It follows the plot of the anime series strictly, although it is highly abbreviated. Mission mode takes the place of original mode from the first game. This is the mode where canon and continuity are thrown to the wind and all the various, disparate Gundam universes and timelines come crashing together in an orgy of fan service. Or, at least, it's supposed to be (more on that later).
The same basic Dynasty Warriors formula remains unchanged. You will wade into a field of cannon fodder foes, taking them out by the dozens in an attempt to lower their control over a field. Controlling a field provides reinforcements and raises your side's morale, making your allies more effective in combat. The roster of characters and mobile suits has been expanded considerably but the same can't be said for the level selection, which remains sparse and still only includes environments from the main UC timeline.
As I already mentioned, the previous game's original mode, which created an original story that brought multiple Gundam universes together in a cross-over plot, has been replaced with the much less structured mission mode. Mission mode introduces a number of new design concepts to the game, though none are particularly well implemented. The only new introduction to the core gameplay is the use of bosses: giant “mobile armors” that present a unique challenge to simply fighting other characters.
Replacing the Dynasty Warriors feature of finding new weapons, players will instead collect, research and upgrade new parts for their mobile suits. New parts increase the stats of your mobile suit but you also need to collect all parts of a mobile suit before it can be used. This brings me to the license system. Similar to the first game, characters and mobile suits can be selected independently. That is to say, any character can (theoretically) use any mobile suit. However, the “special” mobile suits require licenses that have to be acquired through special missions. These missions in turn must be unlocked by meeting certain requirements, usually revolving around the new friendship system. The friendship system builds or destroys relationships between the player's character and other characters based on the player's actions. Essentially, if you fight alongside a character, your relationship improves. Fight against a character, and your relationship suffers. It isn't exactly a complex system. You can also join various factions, though this is mostly just a means for building relationships with certain characters or unlocking parts for mobile suits. It doesn't affect the plot at all.
It's funny how all these new elements of the game actually manage to make it more shallow than its predecessor, or any Dynasty Warriors game for that matter. Collecting parts, unlocking licenses and building relationships all boil down to the same tired gameplay mechanic that is a staple of the series: grinding. That's all it ever is. The friendship element is particularly frustrating in this regard because your allies and enemies from mission to mission are randomized. Therefore, if you need to build a relationship with a particular character for the sake of unlocking a license mission, you could be playing the same level over and over simply hoping that this character will happen to show up as an ally.
Mission mode also lacks any kind of plot. It provides a very basic story for your character (Milliardo Peacecraft doesn't like guns, so he's fighting because... um... to get rid of the guns?) but there isn't any actual plot or narrative arc. There's no motivation to play other than to grind; there is nothing driving it forward. The plot from the previous game's original mode was certainly nothing special, but even that light, simplistic, fan service plot provided some sort of motivation. It provided some kind of purpose to the gameplay separate from just grinding for the sake of grinding.
Everything about Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is hopelessly archaic. Bosses present a challenge merely by having a ridiculous amount of health and only being vulnerable to attack during brief moments that rarely last longer than a second. The game boasts “improved AI” but all this translates to is the fact that enemies attack slightly more often and have more attacks that knock you down. Meanwhile, your allies' AI doesn't consist of anything more complex than mindless button mashing. This becomes especially frustrating when you get a game over screen because one of your allies died fighting a boss because all he/she did was stand in front of it and frantically attack, with no concern for their own defense or health. Speaking of which, a “game over” screen? I can't think of any other modern game series that still uses these outdated arcade-based design concepts. Most games gave this up ten years ago, almost all have done so within the last few years.
The presentation for this game is fairly uneven. The models for the mobile suits actually look pretty good, if a little like shiny plastic action figures, and there are a ton to choose from (62 compared to the previous game's 19). The game is able to support an enormous number of models on-screen at a given time, however many levels only consists of 4 randomly chosen mobile suit models to represent regular grunt soldiers.
Level selection is extremely limited and hasn't grown much from the previous game. Furthermore, levels themselves are bland and sparse. This is especially true of outer space levels, where I frankly can't tell one from another. Cut scenes provide a good recreation of famous scenes from the anime, but any gaming Gundam fan has seen these clips so many times that they have lost all meaning. The voice acting is accurate to the characters but you've never heard such phoned-in voice performances. It doesn't matter much since dialogue is never presented as anything more than talking heads with dialogue boxes.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 fails in every respect, even as fan service. More characters do not a better game make, even if you are just trying to appeal to fanboys/girls. It adds content over its predecessor but also manages to remove depth by drastically over-simplifying an already overly simplified design.2/
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