More than just about any other action franchise out there, Dynasty Warriors games are predictable – and we've all justifiably grunted and groaned about how similar and repetitive they are over the years. After this spring's impressively dull and unrefined Dynasty Warriors 7, we were ready to throw in the towel on the entire series with the force of a charged-up ancient warrior. But once we started digging into Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 – the third entry in the giant robot anime spinoff series – we struggled to find that sense of despair that past Warriors entries instilled in our hearts. In fact, we actually sort of liked it.
Above: Hundreds of identical enemies? Classic Dynasty Warriors
Which is strange, because Gundam 3 still embodies some of the worst qualities that the modern Dynasty Warriors games bring to the table. Each mission feels nearly identical to the last, as you're always blasting through massive crowds of indistinguishable robots to control sections of the battlefield before knocking out a boss. The bland locales are still populated by feeble combatants who rarely bother to attack, let alone escape their little squadrons, plus the close-up manual camera cramps the action a bit. And the storyline remains largely relegated to text exchanges and quips, though in this case, the large cast of anime favorites injects a huge and generally unwelcome dose of melodrama into the mix.
But even after clearing the few dozen very similar story missions, we came out on the other side feeling pretty OK about the experience. Maybe it's the bite-sized stages, which can often be toppled in 5-10 minutes yet still yield hundreds of robot deaths from the tip of your laser sword. Or perhaps it's the large cast of well-designed Gundam mobile suits, each of which can be upgraded and customized as you amass your collection through the campaign.
Most of all, though, the game seems more palatable than other Warriors entries due to the simple fact that you're commanding a giant, well-armed robot in fevered quests – and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 makes the combat feel faster and slightly better than before, thanks to tweaks to the dash system, new partner assists, and satisfying chain explosions following electrifying special moves.
Above: Remove the spear and it just looks like he's dancing
Gundam 3's narrative is just window dressing for the combat – all the pilots from the various Gundam series are summoned into a dimensional void and nobody knows why – but if you're looking for an endless grind, you've got it. In addition to the dozens of story missions, the game also includes relationship missions, friendship missions, challenge missions, memorial missions, and many more, all of which hold the key to finding further mobile suits and upgrades. It even includes 15 exclusively online four-player co-op missions, which seems like a great idea, but the network battlefields are strangely barren compared to the solo ops, which really drains a lot of the fun out of the equation.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is still very much a Dynasty Warriors game, warts and all. Yet the light tweaks and enhancements – plus giant robots and an attractive new cel-shaded look – really make the repetition a lot more enjoyable than expected. Gundam 3 still stumbles in bafflingly silly ways, but for the first time in a while, the thrill of singlehandedly charging into battle against hundreds of enemies has a flickering spark again. Savor it while it lasts.
Jun 30, 2011