Friday, February 17, 2012

On Robots, Part One

If you know me well, you'll know that I'm a fan of things with robots in them. Small robots, medium sized robots, quite big robots and of course, giant robots. So it follows that I would watch a lot of shows with robots in them and play games predominately featuring robots.

Now I'm not going to go into any great detail about what exactly it is about robots that I find so damn fascinating. I will say that while robots are enough to get me interested in something, I'll never use the inclusion of robots as an excuse to forgive a show or game of core failings. The show should still be good, the game should still be solid.

This leads me to Gundam. You could write essays on the history and influence of Gundam. I won't here, I'll leave that for a talk I plan to give at some upcoming Anime convention. Briefly, Gundam is a franchise of tv shows, movies and comics which predominately feature giant robots of similar aesthetic design but otherwise are not connected either canonically or even thematically. Mostly. Recently I've been playing a new Gundam game and watching the latest TV show. Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 and Gundam Age respectively.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam is a pretty simple game. I'd never go so far as to call it good, but I certainly enjoyed it. It does exactly what it intends to do and with no small amount of polish. The player controls a pilot and a Gundam, or occasionally, a mass produced mobile suit. The set up is simple. There are countless numbers of enemy robots. Destroy them. Occasionally an ace pilot in another Gundam or high performance mobile suit will duel you one on one, but for the most part the gameplay is simple hack and slash. It could be described as repetitive, but for what it is, I enjoyed it.

The story of the game is a little silly. Characters from every series of Gundam show up and work together or against one another. The personalities clash together as characters from bombastic over the top kids shows meet with stern military generals from the original series while introverted teenagers from the series aimed at more female audiences mope and cry about the futility of war. It's a weird mix. Ultimately, it turns out they were all being manipulated by a sentient robot who wanted to see some big fights. On a quality scale of writing which runs from 0 to 9, this falls somewhere around the same place as whatever you scrawled on the walls with your crayon when you were four.

It's not a game I would recommend to anyone, ever. That said, I've put about seventy hours into it. The Dynasty Warriors style gameplay of mindlessly putting hundreds and thousands of low ranking enemies to the sword is something you will either enjoy or hate. I enjoy  it. DW:Gundam 3 has about 300 missions to play, including important battles from the franchise. They've included roughly 90 or so mobile suits to pilot, mostly various Gundams and about 55 or so of the pilots are playable. Add in the fact that the mobile suits are upgradable and customisable and you've got a lot for potential for longevity, provided you like it to begin with.

For what it's worth, I emjoyed it. If they make a new one, I'll probably buy it over a better game.

I'll post the second part to this in a couple of days, where I spend some time writing nonsense about Gundam AGE. I'll update this with a link to the second part then.

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