Dynasty Wars: Gundam Xbox 360
Published by: Koei
Developed by: Omega Force
Release Date: Out Now
If you're a fan of the Dynasty Warriors and also a fan of the Gundam universe then you're probably already playing and enjoying Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. In fact, you could easily describe the game as Dynasty Warriors with a Gundam veneer. Whether or not this is a good thing really comes down to how much you like the Dynasty Warriors games. If you do appreciate the brand of mass combat action they employ and are also a fan of the Gundam universe then this is going to be quite a game for you but there's so much of the Dynasty Warriors formula here that any Gundam fan that doesn't appreciate the Dynasty Warriors games might not appreciate the game.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam offers an Official Mode, an Original Mode, a Versus Mode and a Gallery where you can view any pilots and mobile suits that you've unlocked. The Official Mode offers a series of missions, played from a certain character's point of view, based on the official Gundam series. Original Mode offers a series of missions set around a series of planets. The Official and Original modes allow you to develop your characters as you progress, unlocking different skills and improved weaponry and armour. If there's a criticism to be made of the storytelling in the Official Mode it's that it makes no effort to explain anything. The game makes the assumption that you're fully versed on the Gundam universe. Versus Mode, like the name implies, is where two players can engage in a versus battle. Interestingly, there is no option to play online or via System Link. Two players can play co-operatively through the missions in Official and Original Mode though.
Everything that's good and everything that's not so good about the Dynasty Warriors games can be seen in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Each mission plays out in a similar fashion. You have a battlefield that has to be conquered zone by zone. In some zones you'll have to defeat guards or a key enemy character to capture the zone. You always have to deal with hundreds of enemies, most of which don't pose much of a problem. The reason for this is that the enemy AI for all but the toughest major enemies isn't that great. At times it's like hacking through long grass with a machete as the enemies are literally there for the taking and stand around in clusters. The tougher enemies do require some degree of strategy however. Should you be killed at any point during a mission it's game over, which is kind of annoying if you've spent the last twenty minutes or so hacking through hundreds of enemies to get to point where a difficult opponent has finished you off.
Of course we are dealing with science fiction instead of Chinese mythology with Dynasty Warriors: Gundam and from a visual standpoint at least, there are some differences. You'll fight in what's known as a Mobile Suit. Effectively this looks like you're controlling pilot driven giant bipedal robots (that look like giant mechs). They are equipped with a melee weapon (usually a light sabre type weapon), a gun and a special weapon that can only be used once it's powered. You'll occasionally fight in space. However, the space-based missions are something of a missed opportunity as you simply fight on a single plane and it doesn't feel like you're fighting in space at all. At least the various Mobile Suits look great, although the game as a whole doesn't look as good as it could do given the graphical capabilities of the Xbox 360.
The game shouldn't cause deaf gamers any real problems. The mission briefings are subtitled with character names and portraits placed alongside the text. The cutscenes are also subtitled. Most of the communications you'll receive during the course of a mission are subtitled but there are a few non-essential ones that aren't. Thankfully all of the victory conditions and objectives, which are given out during a mission, are shown in text.
If you're happy with the tried and test Dynasty Warriors formula then Dynasty Warriors Gundam will definitely hit the spot. The problem with the Dynasty Warriors series is that it's not changed that much over the years. I really like what Koei did with their Empires variants of the game. The turn-based strategy element actually gave added purpose to the game and helped add some much needed depth to the experience. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam has no such depth but, as we said at the beginning of the review, fans of the Dynasty Warriors games and the Gundam universe certainly won't be put off by this.