Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn Review
Time for full disclosure. I tried a Dystany Warriors game a long time ago briefly and through reviews and news items I've come to know what it's about fairly well. On the Gundam side of things I have been a fair weather fan, dropping in and out of the various series to see which dramatic stories I enjoyed and of course to watch the giant robot action. Other than that; first timer with the series.
Out of this small bit of knowledge though I could tell within an hour that Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn was going to deliver the goods to both fans and newcomers alike.
Let's just start with the story because it isn't all that important. When you enter the game you'll get to select which Gundam adventure you want, their respective hero, and the proper mobile suit for your campaign. Between missions you'll get a rundown on what is going on within the war and between the characters. This explanation is disjointed at best by trying to jam a lot of information into a list of reasons to fight. You can skip all this with a couple button presses. The game also tries to get the campaign's melodrama in which could be bothersome for newcomers who just want to fight with big robots. That's not a criticizm of the Gundam lore, it's just my way of saying you won't know what's really going on unless you are already a Gundam anime/manga/lore fan. These scenes are handled in a highly dramatic way with mostly still Anime characters and artistic backgrounds.
The graphical presentation is a fine blend of not too much and not too little. In a realm where frames per second matter it's good to see Dynasty Warriors still pumping out the incredible amount of on screen enemies with stable panache. In the cut scenes within your suit the dramatic views and their graphics are nice and clean. They may not excel at details but the world of Gundam has always been clean and sterile with beautifully rendered and graphically stable character models. Reborn does all this in stride. The CGI is slick and appreciated in a world where in-game graphics have become the norm.
A few hundred mobile suit pilots on the field to take care of? No problem. The game may not excel in graphical miracles but it does use the PS3's power to make the experience that much better. Fans are gonna dig it, I'm not just not seeing any game troubling ticks here.
Gameplay is kind of simple and in my opinion the biggest point of complaint. It isn't so much that anything is done wrong but as you play the game and fulfill mission after mission you start to realize that nothing particularly new or interesting is going on. The multiple foes become the fodder they are, the upgrades aren't a huge deal, and progression doesn't lead to much of an epic feeling. In fact it feels like a straight up arcade action game with some console fluffing. The battle conditions do change and the level designs are helpful for raising some excitement while staving off the humdrums.
In practice things are basic. Your gundam can earn upgrades out on the field which you can sell for better gear or integrate. You can also combine them with other upgrades to make better upgrades for your suit. You have a few standard attacks per Gundam with a sword, a cannon, a special numbers-reducing attack and a rage mode that increases speed and damage. Whether on ground or in space you can boost forward or upward with a boost gauge that is remarkably uncomplicated. Even out in space the game organized the battles so zero G battles aren't trouble. A lot of missions include routing specific enemies who are surrounded by countless thugs. The battle fields are full of power ups to keep you livin' and your map lets you know where the most stressful parts of the battle field there are. You'll have a partner who does almost nothing useful unless you have a friend pop in a second player. The enemy AI is quite stupid; it doesn't need to be smart but c'mon.
There's an extra Ultimate mode that is quite cool that serves as a Gundam battle mashup for the future! With an all new story (reminiscent of the “story” behind Final Fantasy: Duodecim) in which all the heroes must come together across time and space to confront a new menace. It is effectively a free mode and is even better for 2 player games. Basically it has the same parameters as Official Mode.
The sound effects were on the mark basically but there isn't enough variety. The music for the story melodrama is properly... melodramatic. I think there could have been a little more pizazz on the part of the combat scores. The voices could use a little work too but in fairness they are in keeping with the Japanese voice overs in the Gundam anime universe.
It's a big game and it's prime for replay. There are over dozens of mobile suits, tons of combinations of equipment, co-op play with the 2 player possibilities, and much to collect. I could see some very long gaming sessions with this for fans of the two franchises.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn is not a genre changing game but as both a Dynasty Warriors and Gundam game is on the positive side of exactly what fans would have expected for this entry. Drop in, smash hundreds of bad guys, win wars. That's what it's all about. My main lament, and it goes for most games of this type, is that once the action starts you never feel like a giant robot mobile suit, just a normal sized character.
7/16/2014 David D. Nelson