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Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3
Score: 60%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: Omega Force
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 looks good in action, but suffers outside of it. We'll start with the good: the game features a cel-shaded look that fits right at home. After all, this game is based on a long-running anime franchise. Outside of this fresh visual style, there's nothing to jump up and down about. Since this is a Dynasty Warriors game, you can expect to see the same animations millions of times over and you can expect to see equally as many clones on the battlefield. Cutscenes are of the Cross Edge variety -- that is to say, they are (at best) completely lazy. Each one features a dull background and static images of the characters as their nonsensical lines appear at the bottom of the screen.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3's dialogue is occasionally so bad it's hilarious, but more often than not, it's so bad it's just awful. Characters are preachy, overblown anime stereotypes who choose the most inopportune of moments to clench their fists and lay the melodrama on thick. Nearly all of them talk about cliche anime themes such as "the desire for change," "the need to fight for one's beliefs," and "the futility of war." This maudlin dreck would only serve to depress the player if all of it didn't repeat itself several times during a single fight. I don't know how many times I wanted to yell "Setsuna, your mobile suit is an instrument of war, not the reformation of humanity, you idiot." The English dub doesn't do the script any favors, and neither does the Japanese dub. It's still jarring to hear a character quip "Maybe this represents the light within the human heart" after unceremoniously ending the lives of thousands of people. As opposed to the voice acting, the rest of the sound design is merely unremarkable. Sound effects are fitting for a Japanese cartoon about giant robots duking it out, and the music is guitar-heavy instrumental dude rock. All of this is to be expected.


Gameplay:
If you have no experience with the Gundam franchise, don't expect Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 to fill you in. Instead, you can count on it to confuse you beyond reason. Basically all of the notable Gundam pilots from the different Gundam stories are pulled into the same strange realm by a mysterious signal. That's honestly about all I can tell you; Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3's storytelling is so awful it will probably lose you completely within the first ten minutes of gameplay. However, great storytelling has never been a goal of this franchise.

As with previous games in the series, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is all about large battlefields populated with hundreds upon hundreds of enemies. To that end, this game succeeds. That's about the extent of its success, though. Every Dynasty Warriors game has the same bag of tricks, and as with all the others, it gets old quickly in Gundam 3. There are several missions to choose from; including friendship missions and history missions, which revisit skirmishes from the past. The downside is that nearly every mission plays the same: you land on the battlefield, run to different fields to capture them for your team, kill as many enemies as you can, and face down a huge boss at the end of the mission.

There's an online component to Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, but I can't see it catching on. For starters, hardly anybody is messing with it. Furthermore, it's the same tired gameplay set to fifteen missions, only with three other players to share in the tedium. Admittedly though, it's nice to at least have the option to play online.


Difficulty:
Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 features some truly braindead artificial intelligence. 99% of the enemies you'll face on the battlefield employ the same strategy. By that, I mean they stand around and get killed. That's what they're there for. Most of them pose absolutely no threat to you or your teammates, and they literally go down without a fight; this is compounded by a new feature, which I'll explain in more detail momentarily.

Since nearly every mission in Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is almost exactly the same, there is almost no replay value to the game. Only a few concessions keep the game afloat. The customization options and unlockables will keep the hardcore Gundam faithful returning, and completionists will certainly spend their share of time with the game too.


Game Mechanics:
I can think of no other videogame franchise more change-resistant than Dynasty Warriors. Here is a series that has spawned so many nearly-identical sequels that it has become something of a laughingstock among gamers who "don't get it." This series is the perennial button-masher, developed almost exclusively for gamers who really, really hate the (Square) button on their DualShock 3. Throw in a (Triangle) here and there and an (X) when you want to dash, and that's the extent of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3's depth.

Downed mobile suits have a tendency to explode. You'll use that to your advantage several times while playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3; when you knock down a series of weaklings, the ensuing explosion will cause a chain reaction in which several more suits will go up in flames. These generate a nice Pavlovian response, but they ultimately turn the game into more of a cakewalk than it usually is.

As mentioned before, the customization and unlockables featured in Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 have the potential to add a bit of longevity to the otherwise dull experience, but the user interface is a total mess. It's difficult to get where you want to get and it's even more difficult to know what you're doing when you really dig into the more complex stuff.

Most hardcore Gundam fans probably already own this game. The same goes for Dynasty Warriors fans. However, everyone else will probably stay away from Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3. As they should.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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