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Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force
Score: 77%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studio Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 (ad hoc)
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Whenever I sit and think back to my childhood, Iím often reminded of the different shows or series that I was interested in. I recall fond memories of Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Pokemon, which are all series many people my age or older will probably be familiar with. Well, a lot people that donít know Pokemon know of it now. Thereís also a series that popularized the mech genre for me that I had long forgotten about, but thanks to Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force, I once again get to experience some heavy nostalgia.

Iíve come to realize that I always underestimate what the Vita can do, yet I am always blown away whenever I play a game and my expectations are shattered. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force continues this tradition, which is perhaps a good thing. The graphics are pretty stellar for being on the Vita, with no noticeable hiccups of any kind in gameplay, and much sharper than I was expecting. Most things are explained to you through two young women who are represented by 2D renders, but they are fairly animated in their actions. The background stages are pretty standard and stay static, so there isnít a ton of interaction going on between the player and the stage. You can use the different buildings or landmarks to block attacks, but large blasts will do a number on the terrain. The arenas typically change between missions, which is a pretty nice change up even if the stages arenít too spectacular. Regardless, there isnít much to complain about over the graphics.

The soundtrack of Extreme VS-Force really reminds me of something from a space mission scene. On the mission select menus, youíll hear a slower orchestral tune play as you get ready to jump to the fray. Youíll also hear the voices of one of the two guides, but they only talk in Japanese like everyone else. Naturally, you have subtitles, so itís not much to worry about. In battle, youíll be greeted with a faster, more ominous tune and as action kicks up, so does the music. The lull before a battle is matched well with the ominous tune and it really got me excited to get into the action. We also get the pleasure of the sci-fi sound effects with the gun noises and sword slashes, which is a nice treat.


Gameplay:
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force is a fighting game where players take control of a mechanized unit and must defeat their opponents or be destroyed. The game is pretty straightforward, really. On-screen, youíll notice your unitís durability in the bottom left corner. If this reaches zero, your unit is destroyed and you must wait to redeploy. However, some missions will count this as a failure and youíll have to try again. To the bottom right, youíll see your remaining ammo. When this reaches zero, you must reload your weapon in order to use it again. Your radar map is located in the top right and you can use this to confirm machine position as well as the camera direction. Finally, the timer is located above the radar map and if the timer expires, youíll fail the mission. This rule only applies to certain missions, however.

Learning how to control your unit is the key to victory. Luckily, itís not difficult to learn at all, and with a little practice, youíll be a monster on the battlefield. Players move their units using the Directional Pad or Left Control Stick. Your combat abilities are mapped between (Square) and (Triangle). Pressing (Square) launches your ranged attacks so you can fight from a safe distance and (Triangle) allows you to use melee attacks for more personal encounters. The (X) button allows you to jump and holding it allows for a higher jump. Itís fairly simple, so practice a bit and show them what you can do out there!

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force has quite a selection of things for players to do. The first is Extreme Force, where you create and train forces to conquer missions. The missions are divided into Areas which consist of several missions. Completing missions unlocks the next and you can even unlock new missions by earning Haro medals. These medals are earned by completing the bonus objectives on a mission. Missions also have one of two specific characteristics: VS and Force. VS missions are single unit-oriented, while Force missions allow you the use of several teams to take down your opponents. At the end of a mission, youíll be treated to a reward screen showing the mission level, time taken for completion, enemies killed, times you were downed and the Haro medals earned. The next mode is the Extend Mode, which allows players to perform free battles against the A.I. using various settings or engage in course battles which forces the player to use default machines. The Data Base allows players to view mobile suit data and graphics, listen to music, and review various tutorials. The Force Battle is the multiplayer mode where players can compete against various opponents via ad hoc. Options does the usual as in any game, which is allowing you to adjust game settings.

As you complete more missions, eventually your unit will take damage from the hard-fought battles. This is represented by the durability of your unit. Durability goes down as you complete missions and take damage. After your unitís durability hits zero, that unit will be unavailable for a period of time while it is repaired. To prevent this, you can let that unit sit out for a few missions, allowing it to recover some durability, or you can repair it manually by using some Gundam Points. This allows you to fully repair your unit and let it keep jumping into those battles. Watch the conditions of your units to keep them functioning as needed.


Difficulty:
Difficulty is measured a bit differently in Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force. Normally, games allow players to set a static difficulty that is often unchangeable and you experience the game at that difficulty. Sometimes you might get to change the difficulty mid game and adjust it as necessary. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force has the difficulty tied to the missions you select. Naturally, as you complete more and more missions, the difficulty will rise. You can track difficulty based on the amount of stars a mission has, from a minimum of one to a maximum of nine. I donít feel the difficulty was too oppressive at any point in the game and I think the scaling was reasonable. Players shouldnít have too much difficulty with this format and should be able to enjoy the game at every point, hopefully anyway.

Game Mechanics:
A game just wouldnít be complete if there werenít some mechanics for you to exploit. Luckily, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force has got you covered. Mobility is a huge advantage when it comes to fighting games and youíll have it almost in spades. The Boost Dash allows you to move quickly in a direction by double tapping the (X) button twice. In addition, the Step allows you to dodge shots from pursuing enemies by quickly tapping either the D-pad or Left Control Stick in the same direction twice. These allow you some good maneuverability to get around your enemies, but they do have a cost. Both actions deplete the boost gauge located in the bottom middle of the screen and you canít use either if that gauge is depleted. Watch it carefully or you might find yourself in hot water.

Intelligence and strategy are always great assets on the battlefield and this fact is also true in Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force. When taking on corps-based missions, youíll have access to the Command Mode. This is opened by pressing the Left Button. In this mode, youíll be able to give your team movement orders. This is done by selecting the team you desire to move and then choosing the destination. If you hold down the Right Button, youíll be able to match a destination with a team. This allows you to organize your forces to take down multiple at threats at once and minimize the threats to any single team.

Some missions may require more than youíre capable of dishing out. This is where the Advance Menu comes in handy. Advance allows you to spend your Gundam Points on various power ups which give you a significant edge in missions. These power ups range from attack power to defense boosts, or even some utility boost such as an increase to your boost gauge. The prices of these power ups vary so always check and make sure you can afford what youíre buying. You might even change your mind based on the price and just go for different strategies. Thatís the point of a war zone though. Being strategic and using the most effective tactics available, right?

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force certainly is a throwback to the past. Many of the old Gundams and newer Gundams alike appear to throw down in this hectic game. These brawls were pretty fun to engage in and Iíd say the Gundam feel was certainly presented well, with the ability to engage at long range and close quarters at your leisure. Another plus is that the game is on the Vita, so you can play wherever youíd like. So if your nostalgia bone has an itch to be scratched, try giving Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force a shot. You can always teach high tech war machines new tricks, you know.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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