When KOEI and Namco first announced they were merging the Gundam franchise with the gameplay of Dynasty Warriors fans were excited. The idea of having an abundance of characters to play as while you shredded through the likes of the Zeon was a dream come true. Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 is a continuation of the series with some new bells and whistles, but mostly retaining the same look and feel of the original. If you are not a fan of Gundam or the Dynasty Warriors formula, there is little that DWG2 will do to change that, but if you are a fan there is enough content here to keep you occupied for months. Coupled with the online modes this makes DWG2 the most complete Gundam experience currently available on 360 or PS3.
For anyone who has never played a DW game before let’s get the logistics out of the way first. The idea behind these games is to plop players down into a battlefield and throw hundreds of enemies at them at once. The goal is to hack and slash your way between different zones conquering enough bad guys in each one to take over the area. The difference in the Gundam version is that instead of hoofing it around as an ancient Chinese warlord, you are a multiple-ton machine with a giant laser sword. You will still battle countless waves of oncoming foes and attempt to take over various zones, but instead of fog and swords you now have space and metal-on-metal action.
The combat system is comprised of a simple layout that encourages the act of button mashing. You have a quick and ranged attack, and you can charge up the quick attack for more damage. There is also a special meter that fills up as you destroy enemies. You can unleash this with the press of a button and each one is unique to a particular mobile suit. The combat is fairly simple and you will be executing combos in no time, but unfortunately the game offers no rewards or advantages to using strategy. Mashing away at the buttons is just as effective as taking the time to learn the entire combat repertoire; it is just not as flashy.
As I mentioned there is a ton to see and do within DWG2. The main single-player campaign is comprised of two separate modes, each one offering something different. Official Mode is based on the storylines from the original anime series complete with a plethora of pilots to choose from. The problem here is that if you are not familiar with the series at all, it will come across very convoluted. Mission Mode is an entirely different beast offering up various mission types that range from training to Friendship missions where you build up your trust between various characters. You can plow through each character’s Official Mode in around an hour and a half, but with the abundance of different playable pilots, completing them all will take some serious investment.
Mission Mode is even longer as every time you complete one mission, you unlock several more. Whichever mode you choose has little effect on the type of game you play. Everything still consists of mashing away at hordes of enemies, while trying to take different zones. The formula can tend to get repetitive after a few hours of play, but fans of the series will find that there is so much content to be unlocked that trudging through each mode with each character will undoubtedly pay off.
This is where DWG2 shines; fan-service. There is simply too much to see and do for anyone not interested in Gundam to invest in. There are a ton of pilots each with their own storyline and background to discover. There are also plenty of mobile suits to play as, and a ton to unlock as you progress through the regular modes. Being a moderate fan of the series I was overwhelmed to say the least at how much content has been squeezed onto the disc. The problem lies in the fact that to unlock it all you will have dedicate an ample amount of time, and I am not talking single digit hours here, I am talking months of dedicated play. For Gundam fans this is a blessing, granted you can handle the monotony. For regular action gamers it is likely just too much.
For those willing to invest though the game offers more than just mech-on-mech action. There is an upgrade system that levels each pilot up individually as you play. You will also obtain parts for other mobile suits that can be constructed. These parts can also be fitted to your personal suit for added stats. Skills can also be learned as you progress, giving you slight advantages such as new moves and better defense. There is also a lab where you can tinker with customizing your suit, but don’t get too excited as this is certainly no Armored Core or Chromehounds by any stretch of the imagination.
There is also an option to play local or online multi-player. You can opt to hack it out alongside a buddy in co-op, or choose to partake in one of the many modes that pits you against each other. From our online tests things ran smoothly, but a lack of players really hampers the experience. The modes themselves are also a bit drab for my tastes; you will likely grow tired of mashing buttons online fairly quickly.
Visually the game is a colorful blast that feels like it is running on dated technology. The animations are stiff and enemies fade away old-school style when defeated. This of course can be attributed to the fact that the screen can sometimes house over a hundred enemies on screen at once, without so much as a hint of slowdown. Still you can’t help but be disappointed in the severe lack of next-gen feel to the title. The audio is not as disappointing as long as you can stomach the English voices. There is no option to switch to Japanese with subtitles, which is a travesty for a game with a pre-dominant following of purists who prefer the Japanese track. The English voices are far from the worst I have ever heard, but some of the dialogue is just plain cheesy. The music suits the game nicely mixing in some classic butt-rock alongside the epic hero themes. Overall the game looks and sounds much like an episode of the show.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 is the type of niche game that will be overly-criticized by most and adored by its fans. If you are a card-carrying member of the Gundam army there is no reason not to pick up this ridiculously-stuffed disc full of content. The gameplay will surely get monotonous, but the amount of content to unlock certainly makes up for it. For everyone else the game is definition of mediocre. There are plenty of better action games out there, and for a cheaper price. DWG2 was not made for you, and this entry is not likely to change your opinion of Omega Force’s style of gaming.