Dynasty Warriors Gundam (GWD) is exactly what the title suggests, it’s a cross between two things: First, the anime, Gundam, which features 20-foot high mech-style robots (Front Mission, Zone of the Enders) that the Japanese seem to love; and the second is Dynasty Warriors, the skull-crushing, leg-shattering battle game where you control a warrior and run around a battlefield beating the living hell out of every enemy you find…
Alright, we admit that is a simplified version of Dynasty Warriors, but it’s close. For those who have lived under a rock for the last few years, we’ll explain Dynasty Warriors. You take control of one of a plentiful supply of heroes that all have their own weapon, attacks and musou (special) attacks, and then you’re thrown into numerous battles. Before these battles start, it’ll show you a map with battle plans that almost make it seem like there are tactics involved. Then you get thrown into the battle, and quickly realise 2 things; 1. Tactics are not necessary, 2. This game is fun!
DWG doesn’t really stray too far from this, it features the same kind of gameplay, the same controls (near enough), but for some strange, inexplicable reason, it’s just better. Really, we think this game is the best Dynasty Warriors game to date, so let’s qualify why. First of all; the graphics. Don’t get us wrong, the graphics are not fantastic, they’re not going to take your breath away any time soon, but they definitely do the job, and they’re not bad, they’re just not that good either: the gundams themselves looks pretty good, some of them shine, some of them look older and have scratches and such, and there’s a sufficient amount of detail in there for it to look alright.
The environments, however, could have been improved. The terrain doesn’t look too impressive (being simply a flat textured surface, there’s no actual grass or anything here) which is disappointing for a next gen game. However, the more tech-oriented locations don’t look as bad – Some maps have sections that are styled to look futuristic (machines, grey colours, tech-patterns, that kind of thing) that look pretty good. Nothing to scream about (because that’d be weird), but they’re not as underdone as actual terrain. And there’s another type of level too – space levels. These play exactly the same as the usual levels (by which we mean actually on a planet), except they’re in space. The movement, the attacks, everything is the same, but it looks so different it can be disconcerting at first, making it vaguely difficult to traverse the landscape that shouldn’t actually be there. These levels don’t look too good. In fact, we’d say it could probably play on a PS2, if it wasn’t for my next point.
The thing that impresses us about the graphics in DWG is the amount of enemies you can fit on screen. One of the biggest problems with the PS2 Dynasty Warriors games (in my opinion) was that enemies constantly faded into being right in front of you, and they faded away just a few meters ahead of you when you were surrounded by them. In DWG, that problem is either gone or unnoticeable. You can have hundreds of enemies on screen (until you destroy them all, obviously, where their remains just disappear), which makes the game much more involving. This provides just a taster of what should be coming in Dynasty Warriors 6, huge environments filled to the brim with enemies, all on screen at once.
There are 3 modes of play; Official mode, Original mode, and Versus mode. Official mode uses a short storyline that we presume is from/inspired by Gundam, which is different depending on which character you pick. Original mode is a completely new storyline that is centred around a mysterious planet. Versus mode is, as you probably guessed, multiplayer – 1v1 local only we’re afraid. There are 3 types on versus match, ‘normal’ – a standard 1v1 fight, ‘warriors’ – each player fights a few AIs, picks up bonuses, then fight each other, and ‘shotdown contest’, where players is in a separate areas and each must stop the number of enemies in his area exceeding 50. How? Well you kill them, of course. The two story modes seem much more involving that the previous Dynasty Warriors games story modes, oddly enough, and actually make the game more enjoyable.
There’s also a gallery, where you can view information on all unlocked gundams and characters, including 3d models of gundams to rotate, voice library, and a player record (which shows your play time, total gundams shot down, total missions completed.
The gameplay is almost exactly the same as previous Dynasty Warriors games, except for a few key differences. There’s no bow and arrow, for a start, probably because it wouldn’t be too effective against the hordes of gundams that want to pound you into the dirt. Instead of the bow and arrow, the button that used to do a charged attack (triangle) will shoot a gun. A gun, you ask? Yes, a gun – it’ll shoot a gun. Now, depending on the way you look at this, you could see this as useful and useless. It doesn’t do a huge amount of damage (which would be unfair anyway), but it can still be used to pick enemies off as you’re running up to them. However, you can’t actually aim the gun yourself, so you just have to try to aim your gundam in the general direction of whoever you want to shoot and hope it gets them, which is pretty annoying sometimes – we have a gun, we want to be able to aim properly.
The triangle button, when pressed at certain points in the sequence of squares you press for the standard combo, will launch a more powerful attack, as was normal with the older games, some of these use a gun (even a rocket launcher, sometimes) whilst others use your gundams sword/bladed weapon(s).
Another difference in the X button. It dashes now, Shinobi-fashion, which can be unbelievably useful on a battlefield. You can kill something, dash to something else, crush it, dash to something else, crush it… you get the idea. Alternatively, you can dash straight into the middle of a large group of enemies and spread the metal innards on the ground before they even know what’s hit them.
The dash button has another use: When you press R1 your gundam thrusts upwards (erm, that is, it uses it’s thrusters to propel itself upwards, it doesn’t thrust, even though that would be very funny). If you press R1, press a direction whilst you’re in the air, and press X, you’ll dash in the air. This is infinitely superior to running around like a headless chicken that’s armed to the… neck. One of the gundams you’ll be able to fight as actually transforms into a jet when you do this, allowing you to fly two dimensionally (that is, you can’t go up and down). This is so much faster than running around, you start to wish they could put it into other Dynasty Warriors games, though that isn’t exactly possible – what, would your character hop across enemy’s heads?
The musou, sorry, special attacks in DWG are devastating. Most of them mix the swords of your Gundam with it’s guns, some of them fly a bit, some jump into the air and slam onto other gundams, they are fantastic to behold too. Also, if you veer close enough to a friendly lieutenant character, and activate a special, you’ll set off his/her special move too, which can clear the immediate area completely.
DWG is not without problems, of course. Whilst the frame rate is completely stable at every other time in the game, does stutter ever so slightly when you set off a lot of enemies explode at once around you on screen (after picking up a bomb, for example). As this game is a Dynasty Warriors game, it consists of attack, attack, run, attack, run more, attack lieutenant… etc. This will eventually get repetitive, of course. Also, all the allied lieutenants are completely useless; they’re constantly struggling with battles, which mean getting the shit kicked out of them. Most of the time, this isn
’t too much as a problem, because you don’t have to save them unless you’re feeling generous, but, sometimes, certain people on your side can not die, which means if they’re in trouble, you’d better go help. This results in a lot of running around which, despite the time being shortened by the dash feature, is still tiresome.
Final Words: Dynasty Warriors Gundam is, at it’s core, a Dynasty Warriors game, so any previous fans will probably enjoy it, just so long as they don’t hate anime or huge robots (and who hates huge robots, really?). Gundam fanatics will probably like this too, as it is Gundam, the characters, the storylines, all Gundam. However if you don’t like Dynasty Warriors, you probably won’t like this game, even with Gundam-oriented storylines and controls and weapons. If you’re looking for a large robot game, a mindless killing game, or a Gundam game, look no further, otherwise, stay clear.