Review by unang_bangkay

"The best new tricks for a very, very old formula."

The Warriors franchise is pretty much the Madden of non-sports gaming. With dozens of titles under its umbrella, most all Warriors releases have revolved around a formula that has remained virtually unchanged since that original transition from fighting game to action brawler in 2000. At this point, almost a decade later, a Warriors game is very much a love-it-or-hate-it proposition.

For better or worse, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 does absolutely nothing to change the minds of its detractors, but fans and the willing will find many subtle-yet-meaningful gameplay alterations that make the game one of the most intense, fun execution of the formula to date, provided one is already predisposed towards enjoying the basic concept.

As ever, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 works on the basic Warriors principle, that of a super powered player character traipsing about a massive battlefield carving through hordes of weak enemies to duel with other characters or accomplish objectives. Players pick a giant mobile suit mecha, a pilot, and blast off into the fray in one of several modes and mission types. Attacks are executed in various combinations of standard and charge attacks, and explosive super attacks can be triggered once a special meter been filled via killing enemies and taking damage.

This time around the linchpin of the combat system lies in boosting, that is, activating rocket thrusters attached to the mobile suits to provide a burst of speed. Following up an attack chain with an immediate boost blasts the character forward, shielded in a forcefield that damages and knocks away enemies. Using boosts, players can string together attack chains, leading to endless combos that last as long as the mobile suit's thruster gauge holds out. With that, players are encourage to dive straight into the thickest concentrations of enemies to combo their way to victory, pausing very briefly to trigger a super attack (which recharges the thruster gauge) to further increase the mayhem. The intense pacing of the system ensures that there are few dull moments in any given mission.

A typical battle involves conquering a number of "fields", subdivided areas of the map that act as spawn points for enemy troops. Conquering a field converts it to the player's side, producing friendly troops to support further progress. The slaughter is punctuated by boss battles against gigantic "mobile armor" units, enemies several times the size of the player's mobile suit.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 is also packed to bursting with content. Its roster of playable mobile suits has been expanded from the original 19 to a mind-blowing 66, including units from newly-added Gundam series such as Char's Counterattack and the more recently aired Gundam SEED Destiny, and the available pilot list bumped up to 40 major and minor characters from various series, including Gundam Wing and Zeta Gundam. Pilots confer various passive benefits in-game, and can learn more by being swapped from mecha to mecha. Single player modes include Official mode, which follows the plotlines of several series, and mission mode, a cross-franchise mashup of all characters involved.

The whole package is not without flaws. While impressive in scale, the giant boss battles are more irritating than they should be. Mobile armors are far too durable and provide few opportunities to attack weak spots, resulting in an arduous slog, especially at the lower levels of power, which breaks the otherwise rapid pace of the game and can even risk the entire mission in case a valuable AI character is killed by the boss (though there is a mid-mission save option).

Some fodder units also bust out cheap knockdown moves that can cut an otherwise perfect combo short, and the sluggish camera makes juggling offscreen enemies difficult. Whatever cinematic potential the game has is generally squandered by the terrible English voice acting, rendering the blended plotlines and characters even less comprehensible to the Gundam outsider. Curiously, Koei had included the Japanese voice acting in the original Dynasty Warriors Gundam, so one wonders why it had to be cut out this time around.

All things considered, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 is one of the best iterations of the classic formula yet, and provides great amount of value for money in terms of content. Unfortunately, this means little to anyone not already interested in the game or those looking for significant change, as, at its core, it is just another Dynasty Warriors game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/01/09

Game Release: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 (US, 04/21/09)

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