Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 – Review

A review of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

Japan has proven this time again that giant robots are cool, none more so than with the Gundam franchise. Whilst it has barely made a dent in the West, in Japan it is as ingrained into their culture as Only Fools and Horses is for the UK. So Gundam plus video games should be awesome, right?

Depends on who you ask. You see, this is a Dynasty Warriors game with Gundam in it and Dynasty Warriors gets, at best, treated unkindly.

This reviewer has no idea why because, in it’s way, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is a distillation of all that is fun and good about video games. It describes it’s self as a tactical action game; there is a giant battle going on between two factions with hundreds of combatants on either side. You play, for the want of a better word, a General and your job is to win the battle and eventually the war. You do this by capturing Fields, essentially blocked off areas of the battlefield; the more you capture the lower your opponent’s battle gauge drops until the enemy commander enters the battle. Defeat him and it’s game over. You’ve won.

How do you capture fields? By destroying swathes of enemies, laying waste to the cannon fodder foolish enough to stand in front of you. The sheer joy in running into one of the Fields and seeing literally hundreds of opponents waiting for you then cutting through them like a lightsaber through Luke Skywalker’s wrist is what we play video games for. It’s a feeling of power, of being a hero, this is what Dynasty Warriors does at it’s best.

The graphics look great and are rock solid even when the screen is full of hot laser death. The strategy elements also keep things going; certain Fields give certain benefits like bringing in reinforcements. It’s not Starcraft level of depth but it keeps the feeling of being part of a larger battle constantly there in the back of your mind.

It’s not a perfect game. One of the criticisms labelled at Dynasty Warriors is the repetition, the constant hammering of the attack button over and over. And yes, this is the case when you start out with the game. But DW: Gundam 3 gives you a lot of customization options for the various robots so there is more there if you look for it. Alright, the one-on-one battles aren’t great; the combat is designed for one person versus hundreds so when you face one of the giant enemies alone then all of it’s flaws are thrust into the light. And the fact that you have to manually save the game is, in this day and age, almost embarrassing.

This doesn’t matter though because DW: Gundam 3 doesn’t worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s story is patchy at best, it’s not trying to be high art or to be another anonymous brown first person shooter. DW: Gundam 3 is about the lasers, about the noise, about the thrill of the battle. It knows that, whilst it isn’t the best game around, it delivers one of the purest video game experiences you can find anywhere. And that is all anyone can ask for.

Four stars out of five

Originally published July 21st 2011

 

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