IIf you’re like me, you grew up on some part of the Gundam metaseries. Like most Americans, my first foray into Japan’s favorite mecha started with Gundam Wing, mostly because it was the first entry in the long-running saga to air on television in the States. At the time, my afternoons belonged to Toonami, and Toonami’s popularity was due, in large part, to the crazy success of Gundam Wing (and, of course, Dragon Ball Z). It was a match made in heaven.
But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so, too, did Gundam Wing. But I didn’t stop there. I also consumed G Gudam and Gundam SEED before moving away from the series with the advent of high school and college. I knew there was a lot I still hadn’t seen, but I felt pretty confident that I had an idea of what was what when I popped Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn into my PS3 for the first time. As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong.
The game’s story mode, known as Official Mode in the game, sticks mostly to the Universal Century timeline, covering the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, though it does throw in Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny for good measure. This decision makes sense, considering their popularity in Japan, but it’s kind of a bummer for those of us who aren’t familiar with that part of the franchise.
That doesn’t mean that things like Gundam Wing, Gundam 00, and G Gundam, or the other parts of the franchise aren’t represented. In fact, almost all of them are. They just have to be unlocked in Ultimate Mode, which consists of a series of vignettes involving heroes and villains from across the various iterations of the series.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn largely plays the same way as other games in the franchise regardless of the mode you choose. Your mech is dropped onto a large map and tasked with plowing through hordes of enemies on your way to capturing an objective, protecting a fixed point, or defeating a boss character. You only have access to a few very simple combos and a couple of shooting attacks, but everything looks cool, and it’s pretty satisfying to watch Zakus, Rick Doms, and GMs get sliced up by your laser swords or vaporized by one of your guns.
The combat isn’t about complexity so much as it is about massacring the enemies that are milling around, patiently waiting their turn to die, and doing it with some degree of style. If you’re feeling particularly flashy (or are just bored of looking at the hundreds of enemies bearing down on you), you can unleash more powerful SP or burst attacks to clear out hundreds of mechs at once. Your pilots will level up as you play, and you can upgrade your Mobile Suits with plans that increase your stats, but this never really changes the way you approach any given situation.
Official and Ultimate are the only two modes the game offers, but they are fairly meaty affairs in their own right: each storyline in Official Mode will take you about two hours. There’s also a ton of content to unlock for those willing to put in the time, as well as an offline co-op mode. That said, however, the game doesn’t do much to change up the traditional Dynasty Warriors formula, though there are some minor changes that fans of the series will probably want to know about.
The most noticeable change is a visual one, as Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn has dropped the cell-shaded look from Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 in favor of a more realistic approach. The Gundams and characters look great (aside from the rather limited animations on the part of the characters), and it’s clear that great care has been taken to capture the look of each series, both during gameplay and in cutscenes. The same level of care, however, has not been taken in the environments, which are exceptionally bland and forgettable.
The same can, regrettably, be said for the localization. There is no option for English voice acting this time around, and the translation is rife with misspellings and other errors. This isn’t something that will seriously detract from the game for most people as it’s more funny than anything else (and the story modes are so truncated that the writing is little more than flavor text, at best), but it does point to the game being something of a rush job.
The final major change is the removal of four player online co-op that has been something of a series staple. This time around, the game features SOS signals which can be sent out on maps in Ultimate Mode, allowing you to ask for assistance and join other players on the level in question. It’s a nice idea, in theory, but it rarely works well in practice, as you’ll rarely find someone to answer your SOS calls, and the ones that you do come across with often be either unavailable or expired.
These little flaws add up, but the game is quite fun in small doses. At its best, it’s a fun game that allows you to jump into the cockpit of a giant mech and slice through hundreds of enemies. At its worst, it’s an endless waltz through hundreds of unlocks, bland environments, and dumb enemies. If you like Gundam and Dynasty Warriors, you’ll probably have a good time. Just don’t go into it expecting to see too much of Heero, Domon and Sutsuna.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.