Reborn is perhaps not the best word to describe Tecmo KOEI’s latest Gundam spin-off. Compared to its predecessors, this fourth mainline instalment boasts far more content yet most of it is rehashed and instantly familiar to anyone who has previously tussled with the series.
Aside from a marginal visual upgrade as well new stages, characters, and game modes, not much has changed since KOEI’s original Dynasty Warriors Gundam launched in 2007. As with any game in developer’s long-running franchise, Reborn is centred around huge battles, usually pitting players against hundreds of enemies at a time.
Instead of hack and slashing your way through ancient China, however, Reborn uses the cult classic Gundam saga as its foil. Via the game’s Official Mode, players are free to relive six of the anime’s story arcs, starting from the very beginning. This is done via a series of cutscenes, characters dialogue and, of course, the battles themselves.
Set in a futuristic fictional universe the first arc, Mobile Suit Gundam, depicts humanity’s venture beyond the stars. As their reach continues to expand, colonies are formed and tension begins to root. A military alliance known as the Principality of Zeon soon ignites war of independence against the Earth Federation, a conflict that will tear the galaxy asunder.
Despite having made its debut back in 1980, Gundam was way ahead of its time, unspooling a mature narrative uplifted by its myriad action set pieces. The retro Mobile Suit design will raise a few eyebrows with some of the names given these war machines (such as “Rick Dom”) producing the occasional chuckle. Still, even today, Gundam holds up as one of the best animes of all time -something that definitely works in Reborn’s favour.
Watching this saga unfold, however, requires slogging through the game’s repetitive missions. Like any Dynasty Warriors game, players will find themselves marching from one side of the battlefield to the other, capturing bases while slaying enemies along the way. Sadly, Reborn never deviates from this formula, ever, giving players little incentive to keep coming back for more.
The same can be about the gameplay itself. Using a combination of light and heavy combos, all you need to do is sit back and watch and the K.O count soars. Musou attacks and the new Burst Meter provide some variation to combat yet do little to break its lingering sense of monotony. For once we’d advise staying clear of a game’s easy difficulty setting. I could literally sit down and multitask as I played Gundam Reborn, my pilot’s health never dropping below the ninety percent mark even when in the direst of situations.
To brand Dynasty Warrior’s brand of combat as poor would be incorrect though. True, the series’ trademark approach to gameplay is repetitive yet, as fans will know, there is plenty of depth and nuance to be found. For instance players can find new parts for their Mobile Suits during play, adding them to their current loadout to enhance stats such as speed or attack power. Side objectives are also given in ample supply, rewarding diligent pilots with new characters to use in-game.
Compared to vanilla Dynasty Warriors and its Samurai counterpart, KOEI’s Gundam offshoot is falling behind. Where the other two have made a number of progressive changes through the years, Reborn does little to distance itself from the stigma attached to the franchise.
With that said, this is the fourth major instalment in the series. There is clearly a sizeable number of players who can look beyond the gameplay and appreciate Reborn for the fan service it provides.