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Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3

Score: 62%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 leaves me conflicted every time. There are times where I can sit down and lose 2 - 3 hours wrapped in the cathartic bliss of carving through hundreds of enemies with little effort. Other times, I can play one mission and leave, frustrated by the stagnate, almost archaic, play mechanics that define the Dynasty Warriors series.

Regardless of my feelings towards the gameplay, it is hard to deny that Gundam 3 looks great. Anime-based games have been the greatest beneficiary from advances in cel-shading techniques. All of the Gundams, even the fodder, look amazing. Were it not for the stiff, terrestrial animation, Gundam 3 would look like a playable episode of the show. However, whereas most Gundam battles are fast, aerial shows of acrobatic grace, most battles in the game are slow and clumsy.

Dialogue, which is partially voiced by voice talent from the shows, alternates between smart and comical. True to the series, each character's philosophical mutterings are packed with melodrama. The snippets will, if message boards are any indication, find some sort of meaning in the out-of-context conversations based on familiarity with characters. Those not in the know will be hard-pressed to not laugh, or at least giggle.

Music is spot-on for the show. Tracks usually go with the level (as much as they can anyway), though I like the option to swap out tracks during missions if you have a favorite or just want something different in the background.


Everything you need to know about Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is summarized by its title. It is a Dynasty Warriors game starring Gundams. The core Dynasty Warriors series is probably the most change-resistant franchise in the industry, but that hasn't stopped it from gaining a hardcore following. It has more of a cult fan base than other games, but there is an audience.

True to its roots, the game keeps pace with other games in the series. Playing as one of close to 50 pilots (and their respective Gundams) from nearly every Gundam series to date, you charge through crowds of nameless enemies, occasionally trading blows with other Ace pilots. Battlefields are split into grids, with each team of pilots battling for control of each section. The ultimate goal is to coax out the other team's big general, though you also need to make sure your home base isn't snagged or your teammates don't die. Both will deplete your recovery bar, cutting off any chance you have to respawn.

Gameplay carries through numerous mission types. There's a core set of story missions, which attempt to puzzle out some sort of story involving the pilots tracking down a mysterious signal. Gundam aficionados will be able to make something of the tangle of clashing personalities, though really you're just moving from mission to mission. Even the mission briefings read more like philosophy texts than useful plot recaps.

Other missions are unlocked based on certain in-game conditions. Some, called Memorial Missions, relate to the number of enemies you kill or territories your capture across games. Others, like Friendship Missions, follow some sort of theme, such as placing you in a battle with Earth-born pilots. It's not that lots of missions are a bad thing, but Gundam 3 packs in so many meaningless, repetitive missions it gets dull. Considering the rich history behind the license, I wish Gundam 3 did more with it. There's a series of History Missions, though they only offer a shallow tour of the various Gundam plots.

Gundam 3 also offers a four-player online mode, which lets you take your leveled pilots into online battles. These are fun, but only when you can find one given the almost non-existent playerbase.


Missions are tagged with two difficulty designators. One is a Star Ranking displayed at the bottom of each mission. Although the rankings usually offer a good ballpark idea of what to expect, they are meaningless. I struggled with some two- and three-star missions, yet managed to blast through a couple of five- and six-star missions with no problem. Usually, success and luck went hand-in-hand. If I was able to avoid bunches of Ace pilots, I was okay. Otherwise, they would gang up on me and bounce me between their swords. Usually, you have some back-up, but most of the time, allied pilots have their own agenda, leaving you on your own.

Thankfully, your pilots gain experience even when they lose a mission. Failed missions usually don't yield a lot of experience, but it is still possible to make headway towards your next rank if you lose. Victory is usually rewarded with a few levels. I was sometimes able to gain 2 - 3 ranks off one mission. It is great, though experience points come at such a rapid pace, it comes with the same sense of achievement as a Tee Ball trophy; expected and empty.

The second designator is a more traditional "Easy - Medium - Hard" setting. I went through most of the game on "Normal" with little problem, though I would drop the setting during boss battles. They aren't particularly challenging, just cheap and not well thought out. Boss fights don't deviate very far from the core gameplay; you're just slashing away until you can use a power move. Bosses heal over time, so it can take forever to wear down a boss's health. Most missions last between 5 - 10 minutes; by comparison, boss battles can take between 15 - 20 minutes.

Game Mechanics:

For me, the most frustrating part of the Dynasty Warriors series is the lack of strategic elements. While I would love higher order strategy in the vein of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, I would be more than happy with a few troop commands. It doesn't have to be a complicated overhead HUD; just a simple "Push (Up) = Follow Me" would be a major addition.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 attempts to layer in some strategy by adding key areas to the battlefield. Capturing certain areas of the map yields advantages, like launchers or the ability to call in a partner. The idea is great, though it is hard to see it as anything other than a distraction from bigger issues. Look at this hand, not that one. It is hard to build any sort of workable, strategic battle plan. Allies make own way through each mission with little regard toward capturing key points. The encounters usually end badly, putting you at a major disadvantage since everyone shares the same deployment points. I hate having failure forced on me because I can't bring some order to my army.

Your sole motivation throughout the seemingly endless parade of same song missions is the prospect of unlocking your favorite pilot from a particular series, or finding a better version of your mobile suit. During missions, you'll find plans for new mobile suits. Even identical suits can have different stats, adding a slight bit of Diablo-style loot whore madness. Building plans unlocks new enhancements, which can increase certain parameters for your suit.

The system is a nice touch, but too much is assumed. The menu system is terrible and full of unnecessary redundancies. There's no way to tell which Gundams you've built stumbling through multiple menus. As a player who loves this sort of play element, I rarely touched it due to the associated frustrations. You're also able to assign "Operators" for each mission, though I was never able to figure out what they did other than fill the battle with more chatter.

To its credit, Gundam 3 is a refinement over other games in the series, though the refinements fail to address the series' bigger issues. It is the equivalent of putting racing stripes on a rundown, rusty station wagon. Fans of either Gundam or Dynasty Warriors probably won't notice issues, but everyone else will.

It is hard to recommend Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 as anything other than a guilty pleasure. It is not a great game by any means, though every once in a while, the thrill of carving through enemies overcomes the game's noticeable flaws. Unless you are a fan of either series, consider Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 a gamble.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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