Review by Lady Aribeth

"Amuro vs Char The battle continues!"

Introduction:

Mobile Suit Gundam: Fighter's Locus is the first game from the popular Gundam franchise to appear on the Nintendo GameCube. The game tells the exploits of two young ace pilots and their rivalry during the One Year War, a rivalry that lasted till the bitter end. Now you can replay the events that made history trough the eyes of Amuro Rei and Char Aznable as well as many others on your GameCube in this Tactical Action game that will test your ability and wits as a Mobile Suit pilot to the limit. But is this installment of the epic struggle worth the ride?.

Gameplay:

Labeled as ''Tactical Action'' MSG:Fighter's Locus manages to give a decent mixture of both gameplay elements,though the tactical aspect is very simple and straightforward,it is very efficient and easy to use and understand. The game's main mode is the Main Game mode where you can choose to play as the main aces from either the Earth Federation Force or ''E.F.F.'' for short and the Principality of Zeon Force or ''Zeon'' for short. At first your only options will be Amuro Rei for the Feds and Char Aznable for Zeon. Amuro and Char are the main characters for the game's main campaign,however as you advance in the game you will unlock more aces from both sides,and they come with their own story and missions. These kind of ''side story'' missions are a great addition to the main game as some of these missions have more interesting environments and objectives than some of the main campaign's stages. The game itself is mission based and at the end of the mission you'll receive a rank according to your performance. You play as the ace of your preference and basically you can give orders to your allies,the orders are: Move,Wait,Attack,Help etc. you can give them these orders on the briefing screen before the actual mission or on the game map while you're in-game. The A. I. basically does what you tell it to do which is good, i have no complaints in this aspect.Your allies are a good addition within their own limitations but they're no way as crucial to the mission as your ability to blow stuff with your ace. That's not to say they're totally worthless they can actually do many things to help you, such as distracting an enemy ace while you snipe him safely from afar with your beam rifle or bazooka, or help you defend your flagships from enemy attacks.You will also need to be on the lookout for them though,as you have to check your map periodically to see if any unit's not very low on armor or ammo and repair/re-supply them as you see fit.Now for your aces, the ones you control completely, they are the best of the E.F.F. and Zeon lot and you can fully customize your ace with various skills to suit your personal taste or to give them an advantage during a certain mission. The skills range from damage enchantment to higher mobility on an specific surface, needless to say they're very useful to survive some of the later most difficult missions. However you do not start with those skills, they must be obtained as you advance in the game and get better ranks in some of the missions. Your ace also gains experience from missions and after you get enough experience you will level up improving his/her own overall stats. Also leveling will yield you new abilities, abilities like skills are very useful but they must be used while you're in-game, some of their advantages are the ability to improve your accuracy,decrease the accuracy of your enemies,improve your speed etc. some are more cooler like the awakening ability which puts you in a ''slow-motion'' effect like in Max Payne and the Matrix while you blast your enemies to dust.Both skills and abilities can be leveled up as well as you gain levels with your ace. Another nice addition to the game is the Pressure Level Gauge which increases as you and your allies get hit, and decreases as you hit or destroy enemies.some of the highest lv abilities can only be used when your pressure lv is high enough, and that would mean you are probably already pretty beaten up so those high lv abilities can turn the tide of the battle if you use them at the right moment, the only catch is if the pressure lv gauge gets full you will become confused, the screen will turn blurry and you will be unable to control your unit until the effect vanishes and then your pressure lv will reset to 0.The pressure lv is an interesting addition.
Now for the controls, the controls in MSG:Fighter's Locus are something to get used to,specially in space but they're far from being bad or non-responsive,the controls lie in between the arcade and simulation line,with just a little more on the simulation side,later in the game you will gain the skill to change your point of view to 1st person mode if you like, giving you a more simulation feel to it.But even if you give to the task of totally mastering the controls don't expect them to be like in Z.O.E. but they are responsive in their own right.The game's interface is excellent, the game's menus are very clear and navigating them is a breeze, you can pick any character and start any mission within seconds of inserting the game.If it's there anything to complain in this department it would be the lack of a ''Retry'' option if you happen to fail a mission it's all the way back through the briefing screen and load times.

Score: 8/10

Story:

This is probably the only aspect of the game that I'm very disappointed with. Mobile Suit Gundam has one of the best stories in anime history but the game does a poor job of presenting it to the player.The missions take place during the most important events of the One Year War/White Base saga,the problem is that there are no cut scenes or even still pictures that explain you the events that are happening outside of the missions,and even there they're very limited so most of the times don't expect a nice cut scene telling you what have you just done after finishing a mission.This is not a big problem to people already familiar with the Gundam storyline but new fans and players will probably end up wondering how the hell did you got there at the beginning of some missions. Also my biggest gripe was that some of the most important events in the Gundam storyline feel just totally rushed as if the developers just wanted to be done with the scene and go to the next mission as fast as possible,especially the death of a ''certain character'' which had a huge impact in the story doesn't feel anything like it should,and in my opinion a few extra scenes or at least a few more seconds of animation wouldn't had hurt the game.
Please note that the game does have a lengthy speech after you finish a mission, but unfortunately it's in Japanese and it's voice-only which is not near as explicit as a cut scene would had been.

Score: 7/10

Graphics/Presentation:

Super detailed MS models down to the front burners of the old Gundam RX-78,this is probably the best looking Gundam game made yet in terms of MS models. However apart from the MS models everything else is only above average, the burner lights and laser beams look dazzling but the explosions and other effects are behind of what other anime mecha games have shown in the past.Also the environments could have used a little more touches,but they do get the job done and are very detailed,especially in space where the game gives you an excellent sense of speed that many space games have failed to produce.The game has one of the best intros I've seen in recent memory and on that note the game has no anime cut scenes,all the cut scenes are made with the game engine,and not that there are many anyway.On the other side the game uses some extremely well drawn anime-style pilot portraits, these portraits are good animated and are one of my favorite parts of the game's presentation.Npc's get their own portraits as well but they're small static and nowhere near as good quality as the ones for the pilots and other special npc's.The overall game presentation is very good,the menus and options both off and in-game are very pleasing, the briefing screen is also very detailed and the map is perfect for this game.The game also has a MS gallery where you can watch the MS used in the game.this gallery is not like most other games galleries where you just watch the characters/robot models,each MS is presented by some cool camera angles and full voice explanation of the MS qualities and story,the voice is in Japanese only so if you don't know Japanese you probably won't understand what they say but still is a nice touch.

Score: 8/10

Sound/Music:

Hands down the best aspect of the game, straight from the anime the music is loud and clear and of very high quality.The sound effects on the other hand are what you would expect from a mecha game,the sounds of the MS steps explosions,clashes and all the other bells and whistles are all very well done but nothing to write home about,and they're totally eclipsed by the amazing soundtrack.

Score: 10/10

Playtime/Replayability

Another of the game strong points.with two sides to choose from the E.F.F. being the easy difficulty and Zeon the hard one,many aces and lots of MS to unlock, and as i mentioned earlier the extra missions are more than just an addition to extend the longevity of the main story which isn't long really,they're well done and rewarding for your efford,plus getting S rank on some of the missions is going to be very hard and will require you to lv up your characters. Overall the game has a high level of replayability for players willing to put the effort and time into it.

Score: 9/10

Import Barrier:

Many imported tactical games are hard to play if the player knows little to no Japanese at all,and MSG:Fighter's Locus is no exception,even though the tactical factor is very simple it's still hard to figure it out by yourself.it's probable that you can manage to finish Amuro's missions without much knowledge of the skills and abilities or figuring them out by trial-and-error but for the Zeon side completely knowledge of your ace's abilities and skills is a must as the late stages can be very hard. However you can always search for translations or check the boards here on GameFAQS as the import community is very friendly and they did help me a lot.Once you know what does what it's just a matter of common sense,planning, and picking the right skills for the job,and language barrier has nothing do if you get all your allies killed because you didn't took care of them by not repair/resupply them or giving them bad orders if you already know how to do it.

Score: Moderate to very low

Final Comments:
Gundam games as many anime-based games are more oriented towards fans of the anime/games than the casual player, don't get me wrong this is a game that any player can enjoy from a hardened Gundam veteran to someone new to the series,however the enjoyment factor will probably improve if you're a Gundam fan and can let aside some of the game's shortcomings.too bad the story developments and important scenes were done very poorly and will probably not impact players that want to get into the Gundam universe as they should have done. I don't know if the game will be released in America or not but i highly recommend you playing the game if you're a Gundam/Mecha fan or if you want a good tactical game with lots of replay value and rewarding gameplay.

Total Score: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/29/04


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