Anime fans who need a new hack-and-slash adventure in their life have another game to choose from, thanks to Koei and Namco Bandai. Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is the latest in a line of games that lets players fight legions of enemies… this time as characters from the Mobile Suit Gundam series.
In Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, pilots from multiple Gundam series suddenly find themselves all summoned, without their permission, to this zone with Newtype operators and all kinds of strange facilities. Even though they’d normally never see each other, they team up to try and find ways back to their own series. Naturally, not everyone can team up at once or work together, which opens up multiple storylines. Depending on which character you choose as a pilot, you’ll follow the "Those Who Understand," "Those Who Doubt," "Those Who Disagree" or "Those Who Fight" storyline. As you play, you also unlock different mission types such as history, friendship, relationship, challenge, collection, memorial, and special missions. You’ll want to play the friendship and relationship missions since they help unlock new pilots. History missions let you relive fights from the different Gundam series.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 has a pretty impressive roster. Max everything out and you’ll have access to 53 pilots/partner characters, 60 operators and 74 Gundams from what seems like practically every Gundam anime series and movie ever. You don’t start out with all of them, though. No, all you can initially choose from is Amuro Ray, Kou Uraki and Setsuna F. Seiei. Since I’m only familiar with Gundam Wing and SEED, I went with Setsuna. Partially because he looked cool, and mostly because it’s hilarious how he’ll suddenly shout out, "I. AM. GUNDAM!!!" in the middle of a battle. By building friendships with characters by fighting alongside them in battles or, in the case of operators, by fighting with characters they were close to in their respective Gundam series.
Let me prepare you for what you’ll be doing in pretty much every offline Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 mission. Your mech will land in a designated square. There will be a grid-like map with multiple squares, some blue (yours), some red (the computers), and some blank (neutral). Other squares have icons on them, making them special. (Like they could have a catapult to send you to other squares.) Your primary goal is to get any special squares before the red army takes them. Secondary, is to get any blank neutral squares. Once that’s done, you need to fight X amount of nameless enemies in red non-HQ squares to claim them for blue. This reduces the morale gauge for the red army. Once the morale gauge is below half or you’ve seen a message saying the red HQ’s defenses are down, you go there and attempt to claim that. A boss Gundam will then appear. Beat it and you win.
This happens almost every. single. time. In every. single. offline. mission. Okay, occasionally they’ll be a supplemental task tossed in like, "Keep Char and Domon from meeting." or "Don’t let Loren fall!" But, those really don’t make that big an impact on your own morale if you don’t deviate from the "claim everything then head to the opposing HQ" plan. As long as you just keep button mashing the square and triangle buttons, occasionally tapping circle if you’re overwhelmed by enemies, you’ll have no trouble winning.
The only time the game flow changes is in the online missions. Here, the goal is usually to work with up to four other players to take out the enemy squad leaders/commanders. The more difficult missions will have the four of you facing a gigantic, uber-Gundam that’s four times the size of your mecha, but there are only a few of those. (Actually, those occasionally show up in the story mode too. Occasionally.) For the most part it’s run to the squares on the map that are red and have a red enemy commander dot on them, beat down the commander, and repeat until all opposing commanders are defeated. You can issue directions to fellow players by pressing on the d-pad or using a mic, but everyone I encountered online had the same dash, beat down commander, dash, etc. strategy figured out so it wasn’t necessary.
What makes this worse is that all the stages seem to blur together. Even though there are multiple maps and locations things, they all feel identical. You’re either in some futuristic base, a desert/mountain area or some jungle (either during the summer or winter). After a while, I just stopped paying attention to what was around my character. I found myself just checking the upper right map to see what regions I needed to claim and then went there, not even bothering to enjoy the view. Unless I was in a headquarter or catapult area, it’s not like it really mattered. All that mattered was making as many territories blue as possible and eliminating the red dots.
Once you’ve earned enough gold from the online and offline battles, you can head to the offline shops. If you go to the Mobile Suit Lab, you can use the plans you’ve acquired to build better Gundams. You can also upgrade your existing Gundams, adding up to three abilities onto them and paying to enhance stats if they have enough upgrade slots. You can also sell old plans there, but you make more money from missions. The regular Shop is where you can pay to buy licenses so all Gundam pilots can use certain Gundams, buy unlocked skills you can have pilots equip to make them stronger or pay to train pilots to level them up without actually sending them into battle. I’d say, save your money for developing Gundams and purchasing licenses and skills. Customizing the Gundam’s stats can be a waste of money since you’re constantly acquiring new plans from missions. It’s also just easier to level up pilots by playing missions, since that way you get money, experience and plans, instead of paying to Train and just getting experience.
In short, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is repetitive. The general notion is pretty fun, especially once you get one of your favorite characters unlocked. It’s also pretty cool to go through the history missions and play anime battles on your screen. Sadly, each match starts to feel exactly the same, no matter which pilot you choose or mission you take, since you can solve most missions by just running through them, claiming areas then dashing to the boss. After I unlocked my favorite Gundam Wing and Gundam Seed characters (Heero, Duo, Kira, Athrun and Lacus) and went on some story mode missions with them, I found it hard to find a reason to keep playing. True Gundam fanatics will be the ones who get the most out of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3.
Food for Thought
- Acquiring licenses are a pain. You have to earn and unlock the licenses for each separate Gundam first, then pay thousands of gold to buy one. Once you do buy one, you unlock that Gundam for all characters, but still. It’s quite discouraging to be locked into one mecha for a long time.
- I hate the camera. You can lock on to large enemies, but for everything else you can only keep pressing the L1 button and hope that you’ll keep your target(s) in site as you button-mash them into oblivion.
- There are Easy, Normal and Hard difficulty options for all offline missions.
- While waiting for an online mission to start, you can play a preliminary mission. It isn’t really worth it though, since once you sign on to a Quick Match it usually starts in around 2-3 minutes.
- More online missions would have been nice, now that I think about it. You can burn through the 15 there pretty quickly.
- Online multiplayer supports voice chat. Not that it’s necessary. Most people know to run for the red dots and beat them down as fast as possible.
- You can choose English or Japanese voice acting.