Kickass boss battles in dreary locales ... limitless customization buffeted by a sugary-sweet storyline. Being conflicted is no way to go through life, but it aptly describes the feeling that the latest Gundam entry, MS Saga: A New Dawn, cultivates in the player. Underneath the cover of an uncomfortably kiddie-oriented story lies a challenging and deep experience. Each enjoyable component is offset by an uninspired counterpoint, though, and the final result is something stuck square in the middle of good and bad.
Series fanatics will likely enjoy the game about, oh, 47 million percent more than folks who think Gundam is a southern-drawled swear word. Regardless, newcomers to the universe can comprehend MS Saga's story and fundamentals, if for no other reason than how the generic by-the-numbers tale spoon-feeds the uninitiated.
The narrative skews to the younger set, as evidenced by its juvenile heroes' repetitive, naivet%26eacute;-riddled dialogue. "Dude!" and "Tee hee hee" are expressions of choice for the protagonists as they embark on a quest to rid the world of evil. From one end of the Earth to the other, they will be forced to battle umpteen armored enemies on their mission to save the world from a Dark Alliance.
As soon as you think that this is just a "My First RPG," though, one of the game's best features, punishing boss battles, will humble you. Only the most meticulous battle tactics and mobile suit configuration will allow victory. Failure to max out your mechs with just the right mix of weapons, armor and pilots will result in your party being summarily reduced to a heaping pile of scrap metal and plenty of %26ldquo;Game Over%26rdquo; messages. This becomes ever more critical as the story advances - upgrade or die.