Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Preview
Two of the most popular franchises in Japan over the past five years have been Dynasty Warriors and Gundam, but they certainly didn't top any "must-have" lists for U.S. gamers. The Dynasty Warriors games were generally pretty good, and sold relatively well, but the Gundam titles were only mediocre at best (and in some cases, downright terrible) and failed to barely move off shelves stateside. But despite the quality of these games, it didn't seem to matter much to the Japanese gaming public, whose adoration for such iconic series is unparalleled. So on the surface, a combination of the two probably shouldn't appeal to Western consumers, but on the other hand... Look at the premise and concept for a second: we're talking about giant mechs in large-scale combat, so shouldn't we give that a chance?
War is upon us in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (known as Gundam Musou in Japan), and you are a top mech pilot. You'll have the option of controlling a large number of allies at once, but at the same time, you've got plenty of work to deal with all on your own. And when we heard that, we immediately began to think about the spectacular Zone of the Enders 2 for the PS2, which featured top-notch and unbelievably hectic flight combat. Is it possible that Koei is attempting something similar here? Because if so, we're instantly intrigued. DW games usually have a nice flow to them, but the Gundam games - especially the atrocious Crossfire for the PS3 - were almost always horrifically slow and clunky. So we're still worried, but if the developers successfully implement the fast-action fluidity of Dynasty Warriors, they could really have something special.
The game will greet you with four different modes, each of which should offer unique experiences. Official mode grabs missions from previous Gundam Universes, Original Mode is brand new and pits Gundam characters against the hostile inhabitants of an unknown planet, Versus is exactly what it sounds like, and the Gallery mode is...well, we don't know too much about that one. We are aware that each mode will let the player choose from one of six total "Gundam Timelines," each of which are separated into three categories- Melee, Shot and Defense. The statistics will dictate how you approach the gameplay, providing you with a basic blueprint for success. Obviously, the plan would be to select one that fits your gaming style best; for example, if you're a little over-anxious and rush into battle, perhaps you want to have a very high defense and a reasonable melee stat.
And speaking of battle, these giant robots can attack with either melee maneuvers or deadly projectiles, and the abilities will vary depending on which Gundam suit you've chosen. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam will also feature a nifty sort of combo feature that rewards the skilled player for consecutive hits: if you can land blow after blow, your SP meter will rise. Once it's full, you can unleash devastating attacks on your foes, and you might want to save that energy for the enemy commander. Similar to Dyansty Warriors, certain areas of the battlefield are controlled by a "higher-up" officer, and you need to eliminate him (or her) to acquire new ground for your forces. Once you've scored new territory, you can then execute some strategic battle plans by leaving troops behind to defend your freshly won land. In this way, the game should give the gamer an appreciated dash of strategy to complement the powerful action.
As you move forward, the game will rate you on your skill and achievements. You'll be awarded pilot and Gundam points as well as additional points for the amount of destruction you caused, which sounds kinda sweet. The more we destroy, the better off we are? Okay, got it! And you'll want as many points as possible, too, because you'll use them to upgrade both your character and Mobile suit. Each suit boasts four general skills and two unique skills, and you can choose from a rather wide selection (that gets wider the longer you play). There are over 40 total skills in the game to unlock and learn, so you're afforded plenty of freedom, which is a nice change of pace for Gundam fans. Finally, in addition to upgrading those awesome suits with points, you can also find new parts for your mega-bot, thereby adding more defense, firepower, and even special abilities.
We don't know if the game will be as story-driven as previous DW or Gundam titles, but as you can see, there's more depth, freedom, and customization. We also don't know if U.S. gamers will respond positively to Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, but while they certainly won't be as excited as Japan was, it certainly has plenty of potential. Gundam Musou pushed a lot of PS3s in the country of the Rising Sun, especially when Sony decided to create the Musou PS3 bundle. They won't do any such thing here, of course, but that doesn't mean this franchise-combo can't sell well. If there's one thing U.S. gamers tend to respond to, it's well-implemented action and a dash of flash, and the veteran gamers love things like depth and customization. Furthermore, that two-player Versus mode with three total modes within (one-on-one, weapons battle, and combat against giant armies), is another major bonus. All that remains is to see if Koei can can deliver the goods, and finally provide us with a solid game that has "Gundam" in the title.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is scheduled to release on August 28 in the U.S., and then we'll find out what's what.
7/6/2007 Ben Dutka