By Justin Guillou / July 27th, 2016
|Title||Gundam Extreme VS Force|
|Release Date||December 23, 2015(JP), July 12, 2016(US)|
Gundam Extreme VS Force has something of an interesting story to it. Gundam Extreme Vs. is a popular series of arcade games in Japan and even got a port on the PlayStation 3 that was well received. Eventually it was announced that Extreme VS Force would be coming to the PlayStation Vita. Naturally fans were incredibly excited as they anticipated having the fast paced arcade experience in the palm of their hands. The game came out and sold fairly well. The problem was many fans got frustrated by the lack of robots, moves, and modes in comparison to previous ports of the arcade game and as a result, reviews on sites such as Amazon were negative and the game quickly reached bargain bin status. However, weeks later Bandai Namco released a patch that not only polished the graphics a bit, it added new Mobile Suits, free Battle Mode and remappable buttons. This made several fans happy to the point where demand for the game actually increased! They also announced an Asian release with English subs which is the version I imported and wrote about a few months back when the update was released. Now it is available in the West as a digital download however from what I hear, it is identical to the Asian release. Thankfully all of the updates and extra robots should be included from the get-go.
Gundam Extreme VS features two main game modes in the menu screen – Extreme Force and Free Battle. Extreme Force is the main story mode while Free Battle offers the player the ability to fight the AI in either a VS mode or Course Battle, similar to the arcade mode in other fighting games. Extreme Force mode has you playing levels that are supposed to recreate moments in the Gundam universe, specifically the UC timeline from 0079 up to Unicorn. There is a nice variety of Mobile Suits for you to play as including the iconic RX-78, Burning Gundam, Gundam Unicorn, Hyaku Shiki, Turn A Gundam, Freedom Gundam and many, many more. Some of my favorite ones to control were Burning Gundam, G-self, Nu, Gundam and Full armor ZZ.
As for how the game plays, it is actually very similar to Gotcha Force on the Gamecube or the highly overlooked and underrated LBX on the Nintendo 3DS. Your robots have various abilities dependent on the Mobile Suit themselves. You pick a bunch of robots and have them fight in various arenas. Each robot has a certain cost and you cannot exceed your maximum capacity unless you extend that by earning Haro medals. These are earned by completing special tasks within the levels such as landing the final hit, winning the map very quickly, destroying a certain amount of Mobile Suits or completing the mission without taking damage.
Completing a mission will give your robots experience, and when they level up they learn a link skill. Link skills buff your robots by giving them more health, movement speed, or increasing their damage output. As for the missions themselves, victory conditions include defeating all the enemies, surviving for a certain amount of time, escorting a ship to a part of the map and taking control over several checkpoints almost like a capture the flag type of thing. I must say, this game looks great in motion. The graphics are really pretty and the machines really pop out. The game also runs at a surprisingly consistent framerate despite how intense some of the missions can get later on. The AI has a tendency of throwing lots of lasers and minions your way, so you need to be on your toes if you want to survive.
So lots of robots, fast action, good graphics and multiple mission types sounds like a perfect deal right? Well, there are a few issues that prevent this game from being truly great. For one, each Mobile Suit has durability which decreases each time you select them for a mission. Having decreased durability means that they will have less health when you use them. However they will recover durability if they are not being selected for a mission. This makes leveling units much more of a pain since you have to constantly keep switching out for them or spend GP (the game’s currency) to refuel them. Your teammates are also not the brightest. Sometimes they will just stand there and be destroyed or literally wait until the boss is nearly defeated only to steal the winning blow from you. Of course this is a minor issue but can be annoying of you are trying to get hard medals. Also the localization goes from alright to just plain unacceptable. I found dummy text, wrong mission names and even the music list is left entirely in Japanese! I also heard that this was not fixed in the English version. How is something like that missed? Some of you may just say “well don’t use that menu” or “it’s just the music but not the gameplay, so who cares?”, but to me, having an entire screen worth of selectable options un-localized like this is just plain sloppy and makes the otherwise competent localization look cheap. Seriously, Bandai Namco, try not to let this happen again!
For a quick pick up and play game, Gundam Extreme Vs Force is an alright game with a decent amount of replay value. The thing is, the game can benefit from some much needed polish. And the fact that they did not fix some of the localization issues in this release is embarrassing. Otherwise for Gundam fans looking for some action on the go, this game isn’t bad. The 10-15 hour mission mode has lots of unlockable missions and Mobile Suits for you to play with, and if you are playing the US version, you get all of the DLC right from the get go. So you are getting the better experience than those who had to wait for the updates.
Review copy purchased by author
GundamGundam Extreme VS forcePlayStation VitaPS VitaPSN