Despite its struggle with the repetitive gameplay that has attached itself to the franchise for years, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn manages to deliver an exciting, lengthy, action packed experience that, what it lacks in quality, makes up for in quantity.
Allow us to explain. Gundam Reborn, to be blunt, looks bad, at least during gameplay; however, each stage boasts an impressive number of enemies on screen, to the point where they often bunch on top of each other. It can admittedly look a little awkward, especially to passersby who are unfamiliar with the series and have no idea what’s going on, but it calls for some serious button-mashing confrontation that’s well noted nonetheless.
The game also offers very few modes. Official Mode lies at the bulk of the experience, which offers six story lines each covering a different Gundam series. It’s okay if you don’t even know what a “Gundam” is, because the narrative in between stages does well to keep players informed -- expect to do quite a bit of reading (unless you speak Japanese) because there’s no English voice work, though we prefer it this way. An individual story lasts about a few hours, equalling a roughly 15-plus hour experience in total. But with the Select Area option, as well as leveling and customization systems, players can easily get lost in a much longer endeavor.
Don’t expect much from the combat. It’s the same hack-and-slash experience we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Unless you’re playing on Hard difficulty, there’s really no reason to cease your single-button mash. Enemy Aces and Commanders alike will fall to your fast and frantic strikes with little effort on your end. Sometimes too quickly. There were a few Ace encounters where we defeated the enemy before the in-level dialogue finished, and they continued to blurt out insults while we anxiously awaited their tardy defeat.
Leveling in Gundam Reborn is done through level grinding or, if you have the cash for it, training. There’s no actual training stage or anything of the sort, just a screen where you spend a certain amount of cash on experience and team points -- the latter is spent on skills for your mobile suit -- which is immensely helpful since players will earn a ton of cash upon completing stages.
Only pilots are upgraded through leveling; mobile suits need to be upgraded separately. During stages, robo-schematics called “plans” are randomly acquired while in combat, which are then upgraded and combined with others to increase the suit’s stats including melee, defense, armor and more. Odds are you’ll obtain several plans each stage, so you’re constantly upgrading... and that rocks. Plans can also be sold for extra cash.
Ultimate Mode is the only other available game mode in Gundam Reborn. This throws over a dozen Operations at you consisting of more stages that steadily steepen in challenge as the player progresses. If you’re looking for a Free Mode you’re out of luck, and Ultimate Mode is the closest you’re going to get to it. You’re allowed to choose your own pilot, mobile suit and partner, but your freedom to choose any mission will only arrive upon completion of the Operation.
Local co-op is always a welcome feature, but in Gundam Reborn it can be a bit irritating without a large television. The vertical split screen is annoying once enemies start to crowd it. The SOS option during Ultimate Mode allows for online co-op -- which again is only enabled after finishing an Operation -- but, although this solves the cramped screen issue, it’s hard to find a match that doesn’t lag.
We’re not entirely sure how many maps are offered in Gundam Reborn, but we don’t actually care. The level design has to be the game’s absolute worst feature. Stages are simple and uninteresting, and most times we found ourself advancing to our next objective strictly using the mini-map displayed in the upper righthand corner of the screen. It was especially useful when our camera angle got lost in the chaos...which was often. Also, given the speedy nature of the gameplay, locking on to an enemy and maneuvering around the field would normally cause the camera to panic and whoosh past our target.
+ Character variety
+ Interstellar robot battles
- Poor visuals
- Lack of game modes
- Lousy map design
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn offers a fun time packed with more characters than you’d probably care try out and a deep customization system that’s just as simple to figure out as its combat. There’s just one layer here, and players looking for a deeper experience other than rapid robot action will be disappointed. But for those looking for an awesome button-mashing brawler, you’ll be wholeheartedly contended.