Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (PS3)
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (PS3) review: A must-have for all Gundam fans
- Great visual style
- Big action
- Lots of customisation
- The story relies on players already knowing Gundam
If you enjoy Gundam, then this should be considered a must-have. It's not Tecmo Koei's best Warriors game on the PS3 (that's Dynasty Warriors 7), but it's still a great deal of honest fun.
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The last 12 months have been really good to PS3-owning fans of the Tecmo Koei series of Warriors games: Fist of the North Star, Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll, Warriors: Legends of Troy and Dynasty Warriors 7 have all taken that button-destroying formula and managed to put a unique twist on it.
Now there's Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3, and once again, it's a brilliant little title that makes good use of the formula and provides plenty of fan service. Is it for everyone? No, but there's enough meat to this game that I feel comfortable recommending it even to casual Gundam fans.
Just like the other Warriors games, how much you enjoy Gundam 3 is closely tied in with just how much you like the source material. If you're not interested in Chinese history you're not going to get as much out of a Dynasty Warriors game; if you had no idea that Fist of the North Star is a brilliant little Manga series, then that game will largely fly over your head.
So too with Gundam here: As someone who has only had a casual interest in Gundam before, I had to go back and watch some of the anime to properly grasp the fragment-style plot and appreciate the characters. Gundams themselves will always be cool, but it's it putting them in a proper context that you can become engrossed within the action.
Once you do have some context, you're in for a visual treat. Robots and environments have been given a cel-shaded sheen, which creates a lovely anime visual style. With the engine capable of handling hundreds of characters on screen at once, when the pyrotechnics flash and glow in a multi-coloured light show, it starts to make sense that the backgrounds are comparatively barren — this is a game that focuses on action, not pretty scenery.
That action itself is reasonably standard for a Warriors game. Maps are divided up into a range of corridors filtering through to larger, open 'rooms.' The goal is to capture these rooms because doing so provides your side with more soldiers. Eventually your army will grow to an unstoppable size and you'll roll into your opponent's headquarters.
This structure feels a little unnatural in outdoor environments, where everything's a little too ordered, but indoors it's a perfect fit. Either way, working out which room to aim to capture next, and which threats to your flanks you need to deal with provides some light opportunities for quick thinking and strategising, and means that replaying battles won't guarantee the same outcomes.
In usual Warriors style, the 'easy' difficulties can play out much like the button mashers the franchise is usually unfairly treated as. Harder difficulties require prudent use of special abilities, allies, and the occasional environmental element. Gundam 3 is by no means an 'easy' game on those higher difficulty levels. That said, the game is rarely frustrating. Over the years, Tecmo Koei has developed a camera system in the engine that works perfectly — allowing you to focus when necessary, but not miss what's going on around you. An impressive feat for a game that's so heavy on the action. The Gundams, as befits their nature as robots, move chunkily across the battle with a good feeling of weight and power. That's not to say they aren't responsive; by now Tecmo Koei has that down pat, but it would have felt strange to control a massive mech that floated across the battlefield like a butterfly.
The only downside is that the mechs are landlocked. In the story clips, they fly around and shoot missiles at one another in the kind of spectacle that's only possible through anime. It's disappointing and limiting that they're then landlocked once the control falls back in the hands of the players. I understand that the engine — originally designed for human characters — doesn't handle flying well (just look at what happened with the awful Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce), but it's a weakness in this game.
Outside of battle, the game is also all about the mechs, and Gundam fans will have a lot of fun customising and tweaking their favourite robot designs. There are a lot of them (and a lot of playable characters to control them), and the upgrade system allows for a lot of personalisation. It's also a good incentive to come back and play the game through multiple times, to trial different playing styles and experience the game in other ways.
Of course, at the end of the day if you're not a fan of Gundam, you're simply not going to enjoy this game as much. It's not a reflection on the game's quality as much as it's a by-product of the approach Tecmo Koei takes with the Warriors franchise — build games for fans of the historical period, anime, or manga. It's a safe buy for Gundam fans, and Warriors fans might find themselves with a new favourite anime after playing this game — I know I now enjoy it.
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