We tried. We really, really tried to get to grips with the notion of these sorts of games being massively popular in Japan, where this one, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2, is called Gundam Musou 2 – loads sexier. It’s based on an anime series featuring androgynous pilots fighting each other and accidentally dying/falling in love/wearing sunglasses in space. In theory, it should be the best thing you’ll ever slip into your console. That theory was last seen trapped in a single plane of repetitive movement in deep space.
Stylistically then, Gundam 2 can’t fail to grab you. If you’ve ever watched classic ‘80s cartoons – this will appeal. Overblown mechs in space (and sometimes on arid planets), kicking one another right in the ball bearings, all presented in lovely clashing colours in a vision of space which lends a pleasant purple glow to everything.
If you play videogames – chances are the prospect of intergalactic war and mechs will be close to irresistible. Technically it’s no Metal Gear Solid 4 or Killzone 2, but it has its own charm. There’s no question it’s packed with options – or at least lots of submenus – but the actual gameplay, the bit that sees you pressing buttons (so, so many buttons), doesn’t change one bit.
There’s no subtlety to it. It’s not simply that you can rely on a single button to get you through the missions; it’s that it makes little difference when you press it, how you press it, or indeed why you press it. What generally happens is this: you jump into a smart space suit (unless you’re Char, who pilots his mech in what looks like Napoleonic uniform) then strap yourself into a smart mech and then jet out into the middle of a teeming mass of incredibly stupid enemy mechs and robots. The sheer quantity of them on screen at any one time is impressive. It’s as though you’re up against a futuristic Terracotta Army, for all the threat they possess as you calmly jet among them.
This means the plan of attack varies not a jot from mission to mission. You boost straight into the center of a cluster of enemies (the boost bar has been extended from the first game’s). Send enough of them flying to fill up your special move bar and then unleash a flurry of unholy metallic fury.
There are seven options in Mission mode, though if you can differentiate between each without being aware of its name you are obviously a greater Gundam aficionado than we are. Story mode lets you choose a single pilot and play through events in his story by mashing like a madman. The new Friendship mode works by, what else, smashing robots; while Free mode lets you swat as many mechs as you like, but it’s just more of the same - hammer attack buttons; repeat over and over.
Apr 21, 2009