Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 Preview
Let’s face it- the Dynasty Warriors franchise is stale. It really only maintains its popularity in Japan; not since the first couple of installments on the PS2 did the series capture the widespread interest of North American gamers, and we haven’t seen much in the way of advancement and innovation since then. But Omega Force and Koei switched things up a little by combining the long-running franchise with the mech-driven Gundam series, thereby producing Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. It wasn’t a great game, but it was entertaining, and provided the developers took care of business, the sequel should feature plenty of fixes and upgrades. This could be the first DW title players in this country will enjoy, if only because there are lots of robots, lots of action, and heaps upon heaps of flashy explosions. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is scheduled to drop towards the end of this month, and it’s time to dive in and ask the difficult question, “do we finally have a DW game that’s worth the price of admission?”
First of all, you will have the choice of embarking on one of two available campaigns. Official Mode is considered to be the main campaign, and you will participate in a variety of different storylines from the Gundam anime series (clearly, it would help if you’re a fan). You can choose from a number of familiar characters, including Char Aznable, Amuro Ray and Judau Ashta, and you’ll be able to tackle quests from either the good or evil side. The other option is Mission Mode, which gives you more freedom, as you can mix and match characters and plots; perhaps it’s a good option for first getting your bearings in this fast-paced universe. We imagine there will be plenty of reasons to attempt both gameplay modes, especially if you want a little change of pace from time to time. If you’ve played previous installments in either the DW or Gundam series, you’re probably familiar with the optional modes, which are often essential for providing a dose of diversity within a gameplay foundation that can quickly become repetitive.
Speaking of the gameplay, fans will quickly leap into the action with a flourish. This isn’t anything new, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the control and combat mechanic has always been a strong point in these games, so we probably shouldn’t complain. You’ve got your normal fast attacks, your ranged attacks, and those special attacks that use acquired SP you have in the gauge. The latter includes all the crowd-pleasers and you have to use some strategy; you’ll want to save ‘em up for the truly hairy situations. You can launch them from the ground or when in the air, and if you’re close to death, you’ll get an additional boost that changes your regular SP attack to a Hyper SP attack…yeah, big booms, much destruction, etc. The only real issue facing this traditional DW gameplay mechanic is the transition between ground and air: many times in the past, the switch hasn’t been flawless, especially where the camera is concerned. Provided Omega Force can make the ground-to-air transition smooth and simple, we’ll look forward to playing.
As a nice added spice, QTEs will make an appearance when battling the more difficult boss enemies. You will face off in deadly one-on-one encounters with battle commanders, and when you do, you’ll have to be calm, accurate, and fast. This will represent a serious challenge for the uninitiated as the combination of your SP attacks and the button prompts (QTEs) can prove difficult, but you’ll learn quickly as you progress. As far as character progression goes, if you can defeat those commanders and win the day, you will increase in level and locate new parts for upgrading your super-advanced mobile suit. If you’re not happy with your character’s performance or you wish to try someone new, moving forward in the game will also unlock new characters. As usual, when you reach the tail end of your adventure, you should have unlocked some seriously cool stuff, thereby allowing you to unleash crazy attacks that are even more impressive. The legions of invaders will suffer!
Finally, although there are two game modes available, you may end up losing yourself in the Mission Mode if you’re an ardent Gundam fan. Some of you may recall the Item world in the Disgaea franchise, and while there really isn’t a gameplay comparison, there’s a concept comparison to some extent. The Mission Mode, as mentioned before, lets you mix and match characters and stories; you can select from a certain roster, then choose a mission and a suit, and from there, work on upgrading and tweaking your character to your heart’s content. Do you realize how much time you could spend in the Mobile Suit Lab…? Just thinking of the possibilities is enough to set your mind spinning but then again, that’s half the point. There has always been a quick-running river of depth rushing beneath these games; it just requires more attention and time to uncover. Just because there’s a slam-bang action game on the surface doesn’t mean you should ignore the stats and tactics…
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is scheduled to arrive on March 24, and if you’re a fan, it’s a no-brainer. If not, this preview may have convinced you to take a chance if you enjoy mech action titles with that ol’ Japanese anime flair. No, it can’t be considered revolutionary or innovative, but this sequel should – at the very least – be bigger and better than the original. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
3/5/2009 Ben Dutka