Read a Game?: Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2

May 27, 2009

So, this is by far the worst reviewed game I am going to throw my two cents in so far (Metacritic Average: 49, with only 1 of the 25 reviewers giving it a passing grade). A 50% score typically means the game is fundamentally broken, with so many glitches and crashes that you smash the disc in disgust (and it is not). The excuse for such near universal hatred from the critics? “Repetition”.

A quite aside to defend the ol’ beat-’em-up genre. The beat-’em-up genre gets criticized every time a new on comes out with the old “you just hit the X button the entire time” line. When it comes down to it, are not all video games an exercise in repetition? Racing games: “Hold down the right trigger”. First Person Shooters: “Hit the right trigger”. Real time strategy: “Point and click”. I could go on. Can we not judge a game based on it’s merits instead of on preconceived biases towards the genre? I mean, I am not the biggest fan of the FPS games; it would be dishonest of me to act like my dislike of them had no effect on a review I wrote up about one.

So, back to the actual review. I did not play the original DW: Gundam, so any changes over the Koei (the company that developed this game and all the other “Warriors” games) formula I note is based more on my experiences with the X-Box game “Samurai Warriors”. I am also not quite finished with the game yet, though my 80+ hours with it has given me sufficient time to form an opinion.

Gameplay wise, this is pretty classic Koei beat-’em-up genre with a couple of twists. You are a one of 40 playable warriors (in this case, a Gundam pilot) wailing on hoards of grunts, with the occasional other pilot showing some competence. The appeal here is the feeling of elation taking on an army alone and winning. You hack. You slash. You hack some more. You have a weak standard ranged attack. There is a basic combo system, plus 3 different “Special” attacks that usually allows for some faster hoard clearing and/or major damage to enemy competents.

The good twists are: the addition of a dash function (and dash attacks) and the ability to perform an aerial special. The biggest problem with my experiences with “Samurai Warriors” was the timed events: you had to get to a certain location within a certain amount of time or you would lose. Unless you either had a horse convenient (which was rare), or have already lost a couple of times due to that timed event, you would lose; you would not be close enough when the event would start to complete it. With the dash function, you can easily cut clear across the map to complete one of those timed events. Another problem with the old game was, if your character had a lame “Musou attack” (their term for the “Special” attack), you were stuck with it; the aerial attacks for the mechs are usually pretty decent if the standard one is bad.

The bad twist is the introduction of giant boss baddies (mobile armors). They are arbitrarily harsh, being essentially invincible when they do not have the strange “look how vulnerable I am” ring surrounding them, which show up during or after certain attacks by the boss. Sure, you can induce one with a smash attack, but they do not stick around long enough to do much good. Hitting the armor with a smash attack or “Special” while the ring is up with knock them down, allowing you to wail on them. You need your pilot to be at least level 10, plus a complete set of good parts for your mech to have a chance of winning.

The storyline is a thin soup of characters from the various series mish-mashed together, with the “Official Mode”, having a smidge more depth.

The graphics are technically amazing, with a ridiculous number of grunts on screen, even if it is not exactly up to the standard of current gen resolution. Text-based cut scenes abound, but typically are either optional or skippable. The CG cut scenes are pretty cool, though. As far as I can tell, the sound effects are spot-on, but the voice work is pretty bad. Why could they not get the original voice actors from the various shows? It’s painful to my nerdy ears to hear the relative high-pitched whine of Heero Yuy (from Gundam Wing), though people not familiar with the series would not be offended.

The interface works, with no noticable button problems and the typical Koei menu system.

Replay-wise, it is a long game (with some randomness thrown in). 40 playable characters in “Mission Mode”, plus 32 missions in “Official Mode” (which you probably need to play first). There is a lot of content to play through. I find beat-’em-up games to be good stress relievers. Killing hundreds of enemies with little effort helps relieve a bad day.

It is a mixed bag, morally. Yes, you are killing people (with robot parts falling off). I do remember cussing, some (albeit negative) references to pedophilia, a cross-dressing androgynous guy, and creepy exclamations of a character wanting to take baths with other characters. On the positive end, the game does criticize pedophilia, highlights some positive attributes like loyalty and care for one’s family, and has some cool statements about how intellectuals hurt the planet (usually with eco-cultism).

Numerical breakdown:

Gameplay: 3/5

Presentation: 3/5

Interface: 4/5

Replay: 5/5

Morality: 3/5

Average: 3.6/5

And hopefully my complaints are more substantive than “you hit the X button too much”.


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