Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 Review – Still not good enough

Article first published as Xbox 360 Review: Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 on Blogcritics.

Namco and Koei have teamed up once again to bring Gundam fans another Dynasty Warriors Gundam game and while this is the best offering yet, unless you’re a diehard Gundam or Dynasty Warriors fan, this game isn’t for you.  It’s kind of like running around Los Angeles to every comic and card shop to buy their best baseball card.  That’s not to say there isn’t a good amount of payoff for your hard work but most people won’t care enough to bother.

With few exceptions, most Japanese games that are ported over to North America have small, albeit vocal fan bases.   The Gundam series while one of the oldest anime immigrants, makes one wonder how much more you can really milk it for.  A little known fact is that the Transformers were originally mechs or gundams and perhaps it’s the spillover effect that is keeping Dynasty Warriors Gundam alive.  The biggest problem with these games is that it doesn’t translate any of the things that are good about the Gundam anime.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 does offer some hope for the series but, is it too little too late?  The first change gamers will notice the new and improved art style.  Gone is the pseudo-realistic last gen graphics of the first two games and in a new cell shaded and more authentic representation.  Also returning is the Story mode which also adds to authenticity since like most anime series, Gundam was always pretty soap opera-ish.  Another change made is in the upgrade system, now referred to as “Design Plans” which requires money and is a little more limited than in the previous games.

Make no mistake, this game is huge, almost encyclopedic and fans will be able to overlook many of the flaws much in the same way western-RPG fans are Oblivion apologists.  There are over 50 playable and upgradable characters and 70-some upgradable mobile Suits combined from 30 years of the Gundam universe.  Players can also relive historic battles from the numerous Gundam series in over 300 unique missions and quests.  This is in addition to 15 special co-op levels where you can communicate via voice or text.

Unfortunately, there is almost no fun to be had in unlocking and acquiring all of the content available.  The game consists of a lot of short hack and slash missions in fairly small maps and a boss battle.  The game has you complete objectives like taking rooms and equipment by walking from area to area and whittling down enemy forces until you and your allied NPC bots can control the room.  This is accomplished by making sure you don’t get surrounded and pressing the X button a lot.  There are also special moves that can be done by partnering with an NPC ally and instances that employ a type of quick-time button sequence.   Players have some leeway in the foundation work they want to do before facing the area boss but, to be able to get to him and take him down, you will need to thin out his forces.

Putting aside the general gameplay complaints about the Warriors series and its clones aside, there are a couple problems these Gundam series games have.  The biggest problem with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is that the combat is clunky.  Granted, these are giant robots being driven by pilots and not a ninja or other martial arts expert but, the trade off for agility should be devastating firepower.  If these mechs ever went to war, most of them would not make it back.  Unfortunately, the game always makes you feel slow and your attacks all seem terribly underpowered.  Besides the combat issues, piloting the mech in general is frustrating and feels nothing like controlling a war machine.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 has made strides from the two previous attempts and finally looks like a current-gen game, not a great one though.  This is a game for a handful of people and if you’re reading this review, unless you plan on blowing up the comments, it probably isn’t for you.  It is big and there are many nuggets for hardcore fans of the series but even for those that like the anime, you’d be hard pressed to find one to call it a great game.

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