Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gundam Vs Gundam - PSP Review

Past Gundam related games like Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable, Gundam Battle Royale and Gundam Battle Tactics were all great games, specially the Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable with the latest mobile suits from the Gundam Seed series. Gundam vs Gundam, the newest Gundam game released for the PlayStation Portable in Japan (no date for North American release yet). Is this one worth buying at all? Read on.....

For those that haven't played the games or even heard of Gundams before, they are basically transformers but only look 100x better. The games mentioned above basically put you in one of the mobile suits, not necessary Gundams because there are different robots in the series. You will be controlling and fighting against one of the other sides, usually two sides each with different mobile suits and mobile armor (these are not necessary robots but can be fighter planes etc). Its really a third person shooter, just replace human/monsters with robots.

If I remember correctly, this game was originally from the arcade and it was ported over to the PlayStation 2, then to the PSP. Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable was a great game that offered hours of play time and great replay value because you can upgrade many of your mobile suits' stats such as how fast the weapon can fire, more ammo, more fire power as well as more health, jump higher and more booster power etc. This is pretty much level grinding though, which I think was necessary in order to pass some of the harder levels.

Game play
Gundam vs Gundam is really just the arcade version ported over to the PSP. At first I thought there was a story mode just like Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable. I should have figured that out from the name of the game, stupid me. The controls are basically the same or really similar to the other games though - jump, boost, shoot, melee, shoot 2, special shot, special melee and special. The three specials are hard to execute because you have to hold triangle, plus either the shoot or melee. The special move is slightly easier and its executed by pressing triangle, square and cross (might as well press your right thumb onto all four buttons)

I have yet to even execute any of them. How did I even figure out how to execute these hard to do moves? They are actually mentioned in one of the game options. I will update once I figure out how to execute them. I have never had such frustration over special moves from previous Gundam games.

[Update: I have mentioned to execute the special attacks (only when your special gauge is full) by pressing.....most of the buttons]

Aside from the standards, now you can assign orders to your computer teammate, commands like attack, dodge and surprise attack. You can also call in support where an additional mobile suit for a second and throw in a few more shots at your current target, as usual, the calls for support can be recharged with time just like recharging your gun's ammo. I find the support useful because, if I remember correctly it was able to take the hits for me as well as acting as a decoy for a short time.

Enough with the controls, the game has three game modes - "normal" mode (I call it the normal mode, was going to say story mode but its not a story) where you fight through 8 stages with the last stage as boss stage, quick play and multiplayer that supports 2 on 2 battles. I think the 2 on 2 is the selling point here, just like the arcade version, the fun is from shooting and slashing other human piloted mobile suits. Once you have selected a mobile suit from the list with 20+ of them and more can be unlocked by completing the "normal" mode. They range from the oldest 0079 series all the way to the newest ones from the Gundam 00 series. The objective of any of these game mode is the same, you and your enemies both have a life bar, you will lose if your side's life bar reaches 0. When you and/or your teammate dies (same goes for enemies), the amount of life your team loses is based on the mobile suit you picked. The stronger the mobile suit, the higher points its worth, which means when it blows up, your team loses a bigger amount of life. So that means its not always better to pick the strongest from the list. I picked my favorite Freedom Gundam and its worth 3000GP, I lost one of the games once by dying only twice!

In "normal" mode, you will fight in random locations and you will have a random computer mobile suit to fight along side with you. There are a total of 8 stages with the last one being the boss stage. The boss is huge, relative to your mobile suit and it took me 2 tries to beat it, I was one hit away from losing the game for the second time! I guess I just need to practice more with the controls, a training mode would be a perfect game mode for this game.

Quick play is no brainer, you pick your mobile suit and pick up to 3 other computer to fight with or against you. You can modify options like how long the match lasts for, how fast your special gauge fills up or different stages/music.

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to try out the multiplayer.

So as you can see, there isn't any level grinding here. Although you can still unlock more mobile suits, intro movies, endings and images for the multimedia galleries.

Graphics and audio
Graphics are again, PSP quality, the mobile suits are nicely detailed, environments are plain but the game is so fast paced you won't have time to appreciate or pay attention to, not that there is anything to appreciate here. Music is actually real sound tracks from the Gundam series, so based on which Gundam series' stage you are fighting in, you will be listening to that series' soundtrack. The soundtracks bring back a lot of memories by the way.

Final verdict
Overall I think this game is OK. I still prefer Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable because it has a story mode and level grinding although you can still unlock more mobile suits, maybe its just me. For those that are looking for fast paced arcade style game play, Gundam vs Gundam should suit your needs. Skills really matter in this game since there's no level grinding where you can easily overpower your enemies by powering up your mobile suits and weapons. If you have lots of Gundam loving friends with PSP, I suggest convincing them to get a copy so up to 4 of you and your friends can fight each other anytime without going to the arcade.


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