Monday, August 8, 2011


OK, so having put in nearly a week's worth of hours into this game, and lacking anything else major to talk about, I figured I'd finally go ahead and post my thoughts about Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, a game which I have mightily enjoyed and, amusingly enough, I've sorta become tech support for.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, like its previous 2 sequels, is about fanservice, pretty much. The formula goes something like this--gathered together from 30 years of Gundam anime, side stories, and god knows what else, a handful (OK, 50) characters, their giant robots (called mobile suits) are plonked into a game that involves them beating the holy hell out of other mobile suits by the hundreds of thousands.

. . .and then when you finish the game (SPOILER) there's a bit at the end that says we should all strive for peace. No, really. The cheek of this game being able to say this with a straight face just goddamn kills me. Not that the show isn't guilty of the same kind of thing, of course, but it's somehow more glaring when you plug it into the Dynasty Warriors engine, which basically involves killing people, taking fields, and then killing the big boss.

To be fair, DWG3 has added some tweaks to that formula--now, instead of random fields that are generally indistinguishable from on another apart from maybe having some obstacle or something in them somewhere, there are actual strategic points on the various maps that will help you finish the mission--from catapults that allow fairly instant movement from point to point, to missile bases that allow you to launch missile strikes on enemy fields, to bases that allow you to call reinforcements or stop enemy redeployment.

This is kind of cool, in a sorta Herzog Zwei way (only I could talk about Gundam, itself a niche, and cite something that's even more of a niche. I would be gobsmacked if anyone reading this knows what Herzog Zwei even is) and it kinda works, except there are a few bits where it's kinda buggy. Occasionally the computer will ignore that these locations are supposed to affect the gameplay of the mission and just randomly take fields or drop enemy aces into your territory and generally violate the laws of causality, time, and space, because, well, that's what computers do, really. In situations like this, then, all you can do is just kill every ace on the board and drop the enemy meter down to zero the boss will come the hell out and get his ass killed.

There are other tweaks--the teeth-bleedingly annoying Friendship system from DWG2 has been tweaked, and now is a lot clearer and most importantly, doesn't go down and sabotage your progress. It's still a little opaque--for instance, I had 15 mission unlock because I had one character who was one friendship level below what he shoulda been--but it's a lot better than the nightmare that DWG2's was, trust me.

The Official Mode from DWG1 and 2, that being the mode which allowed you to play as missions from the various anime series has been downgraded into History Missions, which cover the various series just as well and give you the option to play it from both sides in certain cases (which, in one particular case, allows for a different outcome for a critical moment) For those of you who have no real idea where to begin with this Gundam stuff, well this will give you a decent grounding in it in half the time watching 30 years of stuff would.

Online has been heavily overhauled as well, and good thing. The Vs. Missions DWG2 had have been replaced with a slate of missions designed to be impossible to complete alone (SPOILER: They're not) and replaced with missions where you team up with 1-3 other people and kick some ass. They're quite fun and very useful for grinding up your pilot's levels and getting higher-rank plans for your mobile suit (allowing you to customise more powerful suits) and generally, a good way to kill some time--er, when the netcode is stable. It usually is, but somedays you'll have no end of problems with it crapping out as you're trying to start a group mission.

The Story Mode, however, is Fanservice Central. Borrowing liberally from Secret Wars (only better) it involves Our Heroes (and villains) being spirited to the land of NonCanon, wherein they compare notes on how they got there and what they should do next and what the hell is up with the Knight Gundam (it's a long story) showing up, being inscrutable and magic'ing away at appropriately dramatic moments.

It's kinda fun and has a pretty epic sweep. Being that this kind of crossover is tacitly impossible (as these series generally exist in separate time periods and universes) it's cool to see all the evil masterminds from various series unite and all the idealistic pilots form one bloc, and so on. In fact, it was so much fun to see them interact it made me lament that most crossovers in comics don't have this kind of weight to them, now.

So it's pretty cool. I haven't covered in detail the DLC for the game (which, depending on your feelings about DLC may or may not be a deal-breaker) which features a handful of pilots from 00 Gundam and Gundam Unicorn, and a few special missions which were fun to play, but also mighty damn fiddly. The DLC issue is something I vacillate on--here, I'm generally OK with it, but I lament that the bonus pilots can't be more fully integrated into the game--they have no real story modes, nor can they be incorporated into the game and randomly show up in missions for instance. This is a real missed opportunity, I feel.

So in all, it's a pretty fun game. If you look down on Gundam and Dynasty Warriors games as monotonous an inane, this is probably not going to change your opinion any, but if you're the sort of person who likes this sort of thing, it is absolutely the sort of thing you will like. Obviously I do, because I did do a whole Gundam week that one time . . .

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