Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gundam Versus Review (PS4)

I’ve always had a strange relationship with the Gundam franchise because I absolutely love the mobile suits themselves but don’t really care for most of the animated series. I get far more enjoyment from playing Gundam videogames or building plastic models than I do from watching the shows. It’s a good thing for me, and fans like me, then that the latest Gundam game from Bandai Namco tosses the story out the window and focuses almost exclusively on giant robot battles in the massive open world 3D fighting game of my dreams. Gundam Versus features more than 90 mobile suits spanning the 35+-year history of the franchise, nice presentation, and addictive gameplay that will keep hardcore fans and casuals alike totally hooked. See our full Gundam Versus PS4 review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Developer: Bandai Namco
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: 3D Fighting
  • Pros: 90+ mobile suits!; fairly intuitive gameplay; great music; mobile suits look awesome
  • Cons: Drab environments; no splitscreen; intimidating for casual fans
  • MSRP: $60
Gundam Versus is a 3D fighting game that is essentially a big sandbox for Gundam fans to play in. If you truly are a newbie to Gundam, or want any sort of a story at all, this may not be the game for you because there isn’t any story to speak of. You can read tidbits about the mobile suits and characters when selecting them, and there are some brief intro movies for each series, but as far as digging into the deep storylines of Gundam taken from the last 35+ years over a ton of different series, Gundam Versus won’t help you. If you’re already well versed in Gundam lore, or don’t care and just want to watch giant robots battle, on the other hand, then you’ve come to the right place.

Modes include an Ultimate Battle mode where you fight through waves of A.I. enemies and a Free Battle mode where you select several mobile suits – up to 3v3 battles – and have a big free for all against the A.I.. There is no splitscreen multiplayer, unfortunately, though I do understand why it isn’t really viable, but you can play online versus matches on PSN that really amp up the action as human opponents can be much more satisfying to fight than A.I. opponents. The Ultimate Battle mode is also available online so you can play co-op against waves of enemies. I mostly played single-player and feel like there is plenty of content and fun to be had if you’re a solo player, though the game was clearly designed with online play in mind, which is something to consider before buying.

Gameplay is at the same time simpler and more intuitive than you’d think, but also more strategic than you expect. Most of the huge roster of 90+ mobile suits have unique weaponry and attacks so they all feel and play somewhat differently from each other. The combat – depending on each suit’s weapons, of course – usually consists of projectiles on the square button and melee attacks on the triangle button. Using different directional inputs along with the triangle button results in different moves and you can string together some pretty impressive combos. The aiming cursor is also smartly designed to change color and shape when you are in range for your projectiles or melee attacks to hit. You can also call on an assist character to lend a hand as well as launch super projectile and melee attacks when you build up enough meter. The basics in Gundam Versus are surprisingly intuitive.

The game is more than the basics, though, and advanced strategies create wide gaps between skilled players and novices. Because this is a 3D game, movement and positioning is vitally important. Using the X button do fly and dash and dodge around is key, as is taking cover behind buildings and rocks to shield yourself. Obviously, using your assists and special attacks at opportune moments, rather than just randomly, is also something you have to learn. Team composition is also important because teams share an energy pool that dictates if you can respawn when you die or perhaps respawn with low health. More powerful mobile suits (like all of the main characters) use up more energy when they get destroyed while grunts and side character use up less. Powerful suits can do more damage, but also cost the team more if they fall. It is an interesting setup that can play a big role in multiplayer matchups.

All in all, fights in Gundam Versus are a ton of fun. It can feel somewhat clunky at first when you’re getting used to the movement and learning how to do stuff, but it is also fairly intuitive so you pick it up quickly. The fights are fast and frantic and full of laser beams and energy swords and cool looking robots and it is a total blast. The sheer amount of unique mobile suits provides a ton of variety so every match plays out differently. It also has a fair bit of longevity, too, as each of the suits has to be leveled up individually in order to unlock new emblems and assist characters and stuff so it’ll take a long, long, long time of playing to unlock everything. These unlocks are mostly cosmetic – though assist characters can make a difference – so it’s more for hardcore fans and dedicated players to worry about than casual fans, but it’s nice that it gives you something to work towards and track your progress if you need some additional motivation to play besides just watching awesome robot fights.

The presentation in Gundam Versus is quite nice overall. The mobile suits are incredibly detailed and look awesome with great animation for their attacks and transformations. The backgrounds are kind of dull and plain, but there is a good variety to them. Fight take place at various places on Earth including cities and wastelands as well as on the space colonies and even in outer space. The music and sound effects are spectacular, though, as they are taken right from the various anime series. You can even select the battle music you want to play – taken from all of the series – for each mobile suit, which is a great touch.

Giant robot fans are in for an absolute treat with Gundam Versus. With so many unique mobile suits to choose from and such satisfying and fun 3D fighting gameplay, Gundam Versus is a dream game for a lot of folks. I’d probably put it just slightly below Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 on my list of favorite Gundam games, which is a huge compliment because I love Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3. Gundam fans and anyone who wants a giant robot brawling game, and won’t feel overwhelmed by seeing dozens of robots and characters they may not recognize, will have a great time with Gundam Versus. Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.