Alright, well, after taking advantage of Gamefly’s free trial, I was finally able to get my hands on the latest in Gundam gaming in the USA: Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3. And since I do plan on reviewing the previous 2 installments sometime in the future, maybe soon, I’ll give you a brief summary on the series.
The premise is that nearly every Gundam universe has been mixed up together, and thus that creates a lot of conflict with the series protagonists and antagonists. The first game dealt with a common threat that nearly united everyone to save the Earth, but there were those that actually wanted to destroy the planet and sided with the Gundam responsible for it all. Each path had different allies and near different results. But the actual duo or trio of cross-over characters remained the same, from the strange partnership of Kamille Bidan and Haman Karn, to the whacky and dynamic Domon, Milliardo, and Puru. Things were changed however in the second game, and the story was, well, scattered. It certainly helped things stay unique, but it was unimpressive given the absolute low number of missions for most characters. Not to mention there is no explanation for the crossover, like we are just supposed to accept all of this despite the history missions clearly explaining how some of these characters should be four-feet under.
But this time around, the Gundam cast finds themselves trapped in a strange new world thanks to some kind of experiment. There are a total of four different sides, all with slightly different goals, but one thing remains the same: leaving this world. Naturally, no one questions as to why some characters should be dead, particularly (and only) in the UC world. How does no one, and I mean no one, ever ask about this stuff? You’d think it’d be pretty important, or heck, a tearful reunion maybe? Nope, never happens. It makes no sense, but then again, look at other Gundam plots in this series. Sure, there is conflict abound, but it doesn’t manage to keep its focus on every character in the series. Rather, it seems to focus heavily more on the UC franchise and even 00. Sure, there is other focus pointed at the other Gundam series, but it is rather low, even with some of the UC fandoms such as ZZ Gundam.
And while at times the story can be entertaining, it doesn’t really do a good enough job. Friends are on different sides of the war, and yet most of them, with the exception of a few, aren’t even mentioned or brought to light. This could have easily added some more depth and drama to the storyline. Relationship missions do bring more light, but not quite enough. While some conclusions are satisfying to see, others will just make you think why the characters are thinking about that idea rather than the current situation.
The graphics for the last two installments were kinda weak. The first game easily looked like a last-gen game, perhaps even a bit worse thanks to cut-scenes, but the second game, while making the mechs look shiny, also made me feel like I was playing with a bunch of toys. Needless to say, not all that satisfying. But the graphics on the third game have managed to surprise me by going for a cel-shaded look. When it comes to games, cel-shading is a weakness of mine, but it needs to be pulled off in the right way. And while the mechs and cut-scenes look absolutely fantastic, near anime level, the environments are underwhelming. While the space terrains are no longer an open place, instead replaced with asteroids, a planet surface, and buildings, that type of scenery does look pretty cool if you pause and look at it a bit. Sadly, the ground battles are weak to say the least, and could definitely use some more polish. Even worse, these environments are extremely low in number, so expect repeat, after repeat, after repeat.
But the gameplay does manage to keep itself a tiny bit fresh with the inclusion of only a tad more strategy. The key to about 95% of all fights is to take down morale gauge at the top right of the screen to summon the enemy boss, but in order to do that, you need to conquer fields and such. And while taking down the enemy headquarters can sometimes deplete the gauge automatically, doing so early will hit you with the punishingly hard hitting turrets, and needless to say, you want to avoid those since they can and will take a large portion of health. There are also additional fields that can work to your advantage, as well as the enemies, each with unique abilities, such as making allied forces stronger and regain health, to summoning more allies, and to even instantly conquer enemy fields by launching missiles at their bases (but you can never aim or shoot immediately with the latter). There’s also your main base to take care of as well, and so long as your battle gauge is filled with blue, you and your teammates can be revived. But once it is empty, you must be very cautious as to not get shot down. Same goes for the enemy Ace units as well.
Which brings us to the new mobile suits in this series. Each mobile suit has been upgraded quite a bit, the most noticeable being the Turn X, which is now the powerhouse it should have been before. And of course with new characters such as Banagher and Setsuna, more mobile suits have been added. One of the new functions is the transformation, such as the Trans-AM the 00 pilots use, but this kind of thing was seen in the previous Dynasty Warriors Gundam game with the F-91 Gundam. However, this has been taken to another level by not only increasing power and speed, but changing the attack style of certain units drastically, particularly the Unicorn Gundam. But while some have been upgraded and made more unique, others are a bit lacking and retain almost all of the same moves possessed from the previous game. And even new suits like Heavyarms can be quite a disappointment when used. And while grunts have been improved quite a bit, you will no doubt not use them unless you want a challenge. Also, transformations cannot be used for every mobile suit, even the G Gundam’s Hyper Mode for both the Master and Burning Gundams, which is odd since the enemy can use them as a boss.
Skills and licenses have to be earned yet again, but this time, the process isn’t quite as tedious as before. You still have to complete missions to earn skills in order to buy them for each character, but licenses can be bought after reaching certain conditions with the respected pilot, mostly by leveling and using the unit time and time again. And once a license is bought, unlike with the skills, the mobile suit is available for everyone to use. You can also use your money for training for more experience, but you’ll most likely skip that since you can just complete missions for the same effect. But it is a quick way to get your character stronger.
Customization has also been improved, allowing up to four different plans for mobile suits and number of times for upgrades. Even better, you can decide which stat you wish to upgrade, such as offense or defense for your weapons or armor. Then there’s special abilities, with a bonus ability to specific units should you finish a relationship with certain characters. And these new abilities can be quite useful as well.
Another new addition to gameplay is the emergency dash and regenerating health. First, the dash can allow you to not only get out of deadly situations with no hope for a time, but it can also be used to continue a combo so long as you perform it correctly. With it, enemies can rarely get the chance to escape. But your enemies, even basic units, can use this function as well, especially on hard. As for the regenerating health, both sides have this, and so long as you do not take any damage for a few seconds, you can regain most of the health you have lost. Ever better, you can also call on an ally to assist you in combat, and while some assists are useless, others can be quite devastating. And even better, relationships can be increased this way as well, making things easier. You also have the option of an operator, but their job is to just spout random lines. It really isn’t all that great, and you’ll most likely just pick the Haro once it is unlocked.
And with all of this, you would think the game to be harder, right? Well, yes and no. While yes, the game can be overwhelming at times, especially if you are under-leveled and playing with a weak mobile suit, but by late in the game, when you acquire some of the better equipment and upgrades, every stage will be nothing but a joke, even on hard mode. Then there’s the matter of the broken mobile suits, particularly the Unicorn Gundam. Once transformed, it can literally take down wave upon wave of enemies in seconds with both wide-range attacks and upgraded power. Its SP attack can also be quite a killer when used in the hyper state, actually increasing its power even more! Not to mention with regenerating health and chances to revive and retreat from damage, game overs aren’t likely so long as you are good at this type of gameplay. And while the new mobile armor gameplay is a bit harder than the last game, again, it can be easier since you no longer have to wait for weakpoints just to take down the monster of a mecha. At the beginning, of course they hard, but by the end, not being able to beat them is pretty much impossible.
And as for the missions, well, as explained in the story, they can get repetitive and pointless, but the real slap in the face comes from history missions. While they do cover every series, they are extremely low in number and lack most of the characters from the series involved in it, so it makes even less sense unless you actually saw the series itself. And even then, it may not make all that much sense to you. While I was glad at not being able to play as Quess and not hearing her voice, not having her in Char’s Counter Attack made even less sense. This was the poorest history mode I have even seen in the entire series! New gameplay and graphics don’t help it shine positive either, even if the cut-scene quality is better. Actually, they take out the useful cut-scenes present in the previous game, thus making the story make even less sense.
But perhaps my biggest complaint aside from this, and it is a personal one, it’s the new voice actors. While some are still great such as Milliardo, Amuro, Setsuna, Scirocco, and many more, a few have been changed. Duo fans may relax since he is not gone, granted his screaming sounds a bit comical and weak, but the real killers come in the form of the Unicorn cast (save for Audrey), Master Asia, Heero Yuy and Kamille Bidan. Banagher sounds a bit odd, actually sounding older than what he looks like, and Full Frontal (yes, that is his name. I’d make a joke, but I want to be mature…sorta) sounds, well…he sounds completely off. And that is the odd thing because there is an English dub of the Unicorn Gundam series, and these two voice actors were completely off. But they are the least worst of the bunch.
Master Asia, one of my favorite VA’s, has somehow managed to pull a disappearing act and his replacement cannot live up to my expectations. It’s like comparing Mass Effect 2 to Dirge of Cerberus. He just doesn’t have that same kind of energy. Then there’s Heero Yuy. Honestly, I preferred the monotone/nearly emotionless voice the previous Heero had. It helped tremendously to shape the character and his attitude. And while the new VA isn’t that bad, especially considering it is the same voice actor doing Milliardo’s voice as well, there are moments where it just cannot be compared and Heero sounds like a different person. Still, hearing Heero laugh is very, very creepy.
But there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that can trump the bad acting of the new Kamille Bidan. While I only heard a little bit of the first, and enjoyed the voice of the second, the third cannot even come close to replicating the previous two VAs. While his screams are actually better for the most part, his overall acting cannot carry someone as strong as Kamille.
And last, but not least, my final complaint is the lack of the original tracks of each series in this game. If you notice during the Japanese videos of this game, they do have some of the opening songs and such from the anime series they are associated with them, such as Anime Ja Nai or Rhythm Emotion. In this game, they are not present, just like I predicted. And that in turn earns yet another negative point in this game’s favor.
Now keep in mind, I am a Gundam fan who just got back into the Gundam series a few years back. I am the type of person that wants to see more of these games coming here, and I want to support the series as well. But if the developers keep over-looking these mistakes, then of course they are going to keep getting low scores from everyone. They need to try harder, put in even more effort into not just one mode, but EVERY mode available. This was a great step forward for the series, and as such, so long as they improve these mistakes, add more content, this game franchise can be saved in the fourth installment. That is what I believe.
But for now, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 isn’t a bad game, but at the same time, it isn’t the best. It’s the best DWG for the time being, but that’s not saying much. And that is why I give this game a 3 out of 5. I’m sorry, but it had to be done. I do however eagerly look forward to the fourth game, and I hope the developers here my pleas for improvements.
And yes, while I am aware of the game’s online multiplayer option, I decided not to discuss this matter since I cannot use Gold subscription anymore because of my lack of money, and my lack of a proper router set-up. Using my laptop alone is impossible due to the horrible connection, and is only used for DLC. Speaking of which, you may want to look out for it in the near future.