gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 – Xbox 360

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - Xbox 360 - box artReview by Johnus Maximus

Giant robots, hormonally challenged teenagers and voice acting so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh. Yes, it can only mean one thing – Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2, developed by Koei and Omega Force and published by Namco Bandai Games, has arrived!

This is a hack’n’slash game which uses the game mechanic of Dynasty Warriors and fuses it with the characters of the futuristic Gundam franchise. Building on from some of the mistakes of its predecessor, it’s actually a good fun game and offers a huge amount of content.

If you’re unfamiliar with either of these franchises I’ll give you a brief overview to begin with. Firstly, Dynasty Warriors is a long running series of games based on the Three Kingdoms story from Chinese history. You play the game as one of a huge selection of generals in various Chinese armies, each of whom have extremely exaggerated fighting abilities and weaponry. You play out a series of battles to fulfil each of the characters part of the storyline, during these battles you run about, mowing down enemy soldiers indiscriminately, capturing bases, foiling your opponents strategies and ultimately gaining victory.

Gundam is an anime franchise which has been around for more than 30 years and has had innumerable anime, manga, video games all devoted to it. The main concept behind the series is the conflict that arises between different factions on humanity when man overpopulates Earth and eventually colonises space. The Gundam are a collective name for incredibly strong variations of Mobile Suits (giant robots) and only the strongest and bravest warriors can pilot them successfully. Or in many cases, 14 year old children.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - Xbox 360 - screenshot
“I could be dead by morning. Should’ve changed my underwear.”

Much in the way that games like Lego Star Wars and Super Smash Brothers have proven, the crossover genre can be a great way of both satisfying fans and bringing in a new audience. Unfortunately, the previous Dynasty Warriors Gundam title didn’t really achieve this goal as it seemed to have a lot of flaws in the game mechanic which made it frustrating to play and because the history and motivation of the characters were explained in such a confusing way it felt difficult to develop any attachment to these new heroes and villains.

I think important lessons were probably learned and I’m happy to say that the new title is much more fun to play and the story modes actually make sense. There are two main game modes available – Official Mode and Mission Mode. Starting in Official mode gives you the opportunity to play as one of four of the franchises most important characters – Kamille Bidan, Judau Ashta, Char Aznable and Amuro Ray – each with several missions to complete.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - Xbox 360 - screenshot
“Kamille’s a man’s name, and I’m a man!”

As well as the playable missions available on the stage select screen, each character also has biography entries which can be viewed tell you more about the character and how their motives and actions fit within the Universal Century timeline. Once you’ve selected a mission to play you can equip any skills you’ve learned while piloting a Mobile Suit and get an advance view of the level objectives and enemies you’ll encounter.

On the battlefield you’ll be advised of your objectives, which are usually travel to point A, kill X number of enemies and take over field, travel to point B, eliminate Mobile Suit pilot Y, rinse, repeat. It doesn’t sound particularly strenuous on the old grey matter, but to be fair that’s pretty much par for the course in all the Dynasty Warriors games. What does keep things interesting is that there are plenty of Mobile Suit pilots on either side, so the pace of the battle changes depending on their actions.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - Xbox 360 - screenshot
“This thing’s too big for me. I need something more my size”

After each battle you are awarded bonus experience points, unlock new skills depending on the Mobile Suit you piloted and collect spare parts from the enemy Mobile Suits which you destroyed. One of the most improved features in this sequel is the sheer number of playable robots, in the first game there were less than twenty, in this there are over sixty! Aside from a few that you get access to at the beginning of the game, the rest have to be unlocked by salvaging unique machine parts from the missions you play.

As the Official Mode is constrained to telling the actual stories from the Gundam Universe it is difficult to legitimise having some of the characters and Mobile Suits interacting, so this is where the Mission Mode really makes things fun. There are a total of forty playable pilots, although many have to be unlocked by completing certain objectives within the game, and instead of following the plotlines of every individual series, you instead forge a new destiny by choosing which factions and pilots to ally with.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 - Xbox 360 - screenshot
“I’ll mash you like potatoes!”

Completionists will have a field day with the Mission Mode as there are a huge amount of missions available, loads of pilots to level up and a vast array of Mobile Suits to collect parts and licences for, additionally the achievements will take a whole lot of work to obtain. Both the Official and Mission Mode are playable for one or two players over local co-operative mode, but in addition to this there are online multiplayer modes.

And this is about where things start to suck. Although there are three pretty interesting versus game types and the ability to play as any pilot/mobile suit without actually unlocking them, the online community for this game is nonexistent. I tried for at least a half hour to setup and join games, but was met with nothing but tumbleweed. Which means resorting to couch co-op, which is okay if the people you play with enjoy this kind of game, but for some it can get annoying as the learning curve is pretty steep.

That doesn’t spoil things too much though, as the main focus of the game is the official/mission modes, rather than the versus. Between the game launching and writing this review there have been 10 confirmed additional (and free) downloadable missions, something not seen before for a Koei game. There is already a vast amount of replayability in the game, it truly is a completionists nightmare. Hack’n’slash fans would do well to give this a look, it’s a great deal better than its predecessor.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 scores four erupting burning fingers out of five

Four stars

Friday, June 12th, 2009, Computer Gaming, Xbox 360.