Japanese developer Omega Force must be doing something right. It has been dining out on the same hack ‘n slash formula since 1997, selling over 10 million copies of its 20-plus Dynasty Warriors games to date. This year, predictably, the franchise is back with the sequel to 2007’s Dynasty Warriors Gundam, the developer’s first attempt to re-invent the franchise by ditching its Chinese/Japanese historical roots for outer-space and swapping Emperors and swords for giant robots and an arsenal of high-tech weaponry.
With the setting and characters of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 sourced from the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series there’s a predictable Earth-saving scenario to get stuck into. However, no amount of plasma swords, missiles, Gatling guns or jet-packs can make up for the fact that it’s still the same game from all those years ago. Beneath its new exterior Gundam 2 is indistinguishable from its predecessors. The same ideas have been regurgitated and even the same problems that have plagued the series throughout its illustrious history turn up once again to irritate us.
In Gundam 2 the main objective is to control zones on the map, dashing back and forth between areas to help out your allies while fighting waves of enemies in the process. Inevitably you'll end up facing the enemy commander, who in this case comes in the form of a gigantic robot that puts up much more of a challenge, but is equally as dull to fight as his minions; it’s mind-numbing stuff, it really is. The Dynasty Warriors series has always been an acquired taste, so unless you get a kick from slashing and shooting your way across some incredibly barren environments and knocking down dozens of brainless bots on your way to tackle the slightly more entertaining, but nonetheless extremely frustrating Mech commanders, then you might as well not read on any further.
The big problem we have, and this goes for every Dynasty Warriors game we’ve ever played, is that enemy A.I. is just so unresponsive that it all feels so meaningless and monotonous. You don’t ever really have to take advantage of what, admittedly, is a decent arsenal of weapons and some visually impressive moves. Instead you can quite simply bash the same two face buttons throughout the game and sit back and watch enemy bots fall over like dominoes. Seriously, they just stand around like friends at a funeral! Despite this serious flaw though, the gameplay can still be strangely addictive and the repetitive button mashing almost has a hypnotic effect. So much so that we actually fought through one long-winded battle for almost an hour, even though we hate the game. Perhaps this is why the Dynasty Warriors series has become so popular? We can't think of any other reason.
The increase to the roster now gives players access to no less than 62 different mech suits so there’s some entertainment to be had of testing out the range of weaponry and special skills on offer. There’s also plenty to do, ton of missions, mech customization and upgrades, plus the chance to play from the perspective of different characters. The two offline game modes offer identical hack ‘n slash/ beat ‘em up gameplay, but there’s the welcome addition of a two player co-op mode and an online component that boasts three game modes, including the obligatory Deathmatch. There’s enough here to keep fans interested for some time, even if the gameplay does inevitably involve hacking through legions of broken bots.
New to the series is the ability to execute aerial maneuvers, which does break up the monotony of constantly fighting on the 2D plane. There’s also some Quick-Time Events that appear during boss battles and require you to press a series of face buttons to correspond with those that flash up on-screen. We’re guessing it was probably added to give combat a new and exciting twist, but instead has the opposite effect, with the QTEs interrupting the flow of the game and its fast pace, which is arguably one of the reasons why people find the franchise so addictive in the first place. If anything, you could say that this addition takes the series a step backwards rather than improving on what it already had. If the developer really wanted to improve things, it should have sorted out the basics rather than add on new features.
There’s not much more to say about Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - not without us getting irate, that is. If you watch the anime series you may get a kick out of the storyline, but it will be lost on anyone else. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Dynasty Warriors game then there’s no reason at all why you won’t enjoy Gundam 2; it’s essentially the same game. Everyone else though will be bored out of their minds and wonder just why this mundane series continues to be churned out at such an alarming rate.
-The Final Word-
A game that will appeal to fans of the Gundam anime series and Dynasty Warriors franchise only. If you haven't played DW before, then steer well clear of this.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|