By Benny Carrillo / June 27th, 2016
I love the Gundam franchise. Not only because it contains giant robots, which by default are awesome, but because it was part of my childhood. I grew up in the 90’s during the Toonami era and as such Mobile Suit Gundam Wing was one of the shows I recorded on a daily basis so I could rewatch it. However, my favorite Gundam series is by far Mobile Fighter G Gundam, a show that is so memorable to those who watched it, you only need utter “This hand of mine is burning red!” and watch as the others in the room reply “It’s loud roar tells me to grasp victory!” That said, I am by no means a Gundam encyclopedia as most of my knowledge outside of those two series comes from both Super Robot Wars and the Dynasty Warriors Gundam franchise. Which brings up an interesting point, the Gundam franchise has had a rather odd relationship with Western releases.
Many games bearing the Gundam name have sadly never seen a stateside release, such as SD Gundam G Generation and Gundam Breaker 3. Thankfully we will get be getting another Western release with Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme vs Force. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Gundam vs series the idea is basically a 3D arena Gundam fighter that throws representatives from practically every Gundam TV or Film series in existence. So when I saw this game sitting in the corner of Bandai Namco’s room at E3 I knew I had to at least give it try. What I got was more than I expected. Let’s start however with the basic mechanics.
Each suit has two basic attacks, melee and ranged, and two special attacks. In addition, you have a boost gauge which is used for quick movements and jumping. Because you’re in an arena, making good use of your terrain is very important. Buildings can block shots and even melee attacks as the suit will automatically close in on you using the most direct line it can. While you may think you can easily break the CPU, that’s not really the case, as the CPU is just as aware of these mechanics as well. Hitting your opponent requires you to think about your moves carefully. Close your distance and make every attack count. Though some special attacks can help turn the tide of battle. While having your suit destroyed doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost, each suit has a point cost associated with it. If you need to respawn you’ll have to pay the cost to do so. If you don’t have enough points to respawn then the fight is over and you’ve lost. As such there’s an element of strategy to which suit you pick. Do you go for a powerful high point cost suit in hopes that you can take the enemy down before you die? Or do you select a weaker suit so that you can respawn if necessary? The choice is yours. That said there’s more to this game than just your basic arcade fighter.
As I mentioned, the Gundam vs series is a fighting franchise. So I was a bit surprised to see a rather fleshed out single player mode in the game. After selecting one of four eras you’ll be taken to a mission map. The demo I played (which I suspect was the full game) had several missions unlocked. I decided to play the first four missions in order which recreated various encounters from the original Mobile Suit Gundam. For my selections I went with the Burning Gundam, the Master Gundam, and finally the Gundam Double X, which I used for the last two missions. Each mission has a particular objective sometimes it’s a simple as defeating a particular suit, which other times you’ll need to take over bases on the field. If that sounds a little like Dynasty Warriors Gundam you’re not alone. These bases will spawn units that will try to attack your own bases. However, unlike Dynasty Warriors, you’ll only be dealing with about two per base instead of 50. In order to help you take over the various bases you can actually issue commands to small squads that deploy with you by pulling up your field map. These same units can also be sent after enemy suits as well. Also, on this screen is where you can spend your “Force Points”
Force Points are accumulated at fixed intervals during the mission. The abilities here range from healing, to instantly respawning your downed allies, as opposed to waiting for them their respawn timer to count down. In a pinch this can help turn the tide of a battle. Which is important as each mission has three additional optional goals, such as not taking damage or completing the mission under a certain time. These goals are represented by Haros on the mission select screen so you can easily see what ones you haven’t met yet. All that’s well and good, but in the end what do I think.
For me this was the most fun I had at E3, but a lot of that is because I really do like the Gundam franchise. Plus, there’s just something hilarious about blowing away Char’s Zaku with the Gundam Double X’s Twin Satellite Cannon, or watching the Master Gundam take out a Zeon carrier by punching and kicking it to death. Crossovers are always great for odd yet wonderful moments like that and this game is no different. If you’re curious as to what suits are in the game check out this page for a full list and be on the lookout for the game when it launches.
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