The power of a good licensed game is that it can make you either a bigger fan of the license in question, or it can put you on the road to being a fan in the first place. The first Dynasty Warriors: Gundam did the latter, and this third installment does the former, to the point where I'm now borrowing series DVDs like a madman in a quest to maximize the immense enjoyment I'm having with this title.
Suffice it to say, this game can be dangerous.
(Here's hoping I don't start buying toys. I've seen where that rabbit hole goes and want no part of it.)
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 gets a lot right — more right than I've ever seen any Warriors game get right, quite honestly. It gets its basic mechanics near-perfect by making them simple, yet effective. Pressing buttons in an easy-to-memorize order allows for specified attack strings and chains. However, the order of the buttons pressed can be varied at any time to yield different attacks. Chaining of attacks by way of dashes, jumps and even cancels can result in impressive combination attacks from the air and ground, as well as the ability to quickly dash away from tight situations. Single button presses also result in impressive super attacks. All of this combines to create highly satisfying combat that is easy to grasp, but contains easily appreciated depth for anyone willing to look past the surface.
There's a lot of satisfying combat to be had here. DW:G3 sports a ton of content: over 300 missions spread over multiple shared story lines, dozens of pilots and machines to choose from (so long as you like the more popular Gundam series — if you're into something fringe or of a lower profile like 08th MS Team or G Gundam, you're out of luck), and everything's customizable to the nines via pilot level-ups and machine enhancements that you can purchase from shops. As all of the aforementioned are gradually unlocked over the course of the game, this makes DW:G3 a title that's easy to sink hundreds of hours into, and is infinitely replayable when the main story has long since been finished. While mission objectives are not very varied, the real fun of DW:G3 lies in tinkering around with the different pilot and Mobile Suit combinations to see how many ways you can stylishly kick robot butt.
The presentation maintains the same high standard, with a cel-shaded look to replicate the animated style of the "Gundam" series. Energetic music plays as you run around wrecking enemy robots, and while it's quite good, after three installments, it's a shame the original theme songs still haven't made it onto the disc for domestic players. The voice acting is also hit or miss. If you prefer the Japanese voices, it's perfect, but for people who like watching their "Gundam" English-dubbed ... well, some people put in decent performances here, and some most definitely did not. Still, it's nothing that breaks the experience: Most of the dialogue uttered in this game is either fan service or makes no sense in any context.
A game such as this is naturally more enjoyable when played cooperatively, and to that end, DW:G3 allows for two simultaneous local players via split-screen, and four online. The online works and doesn't really lag, but it has quite a few desyncing problems. You can get missions done pretty easily, but be prepared to see your allies in different places than where they actually might be, or possibly warping between environments. It's a weird thing, and it's suggested you play with headsets so you can communicate with your friends regarding your true positions on the map. The rewards gained for completing co-op online missions is easily worth putting up with a few glitches, though, as you get high amounts of money and experience while clearing more missions in less time since you're with friends.
For all of its assets, there is unfortunately one glaring flaw in DW:G3 that does its best to bring down the whole product. What's worse is that it's a series mainstay. The camera is quite fussy, and even with a camera-centering button in place, it will rarely keep an eye on what's ahead of you as opposed to swooping around behind you every other second. While you eventually get used to it as your units get better and your personal skills increase, you always wonder what might have been if you simply had the ability to lock the camera and your focus on enemy pilots. What's worse is that other games in this series, such as the long-since-released Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce, already sport perfectly implemented lock-on and lock-on homing dash features; they would have immensely enhanced DW:G3's already impressive level of mechanical depth.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is easily the best outing the Warriors series has seen in a long time, and it's exactly what it says on the box. If you enjoy feeling like a total badass as you wipe out hundreds of enemies with flash, speed and technique, then this game's worth full price even with its few flaws — possibly more so if you're already a Gundam geek. If you're not, though, beware: This game may turn you into one before you know it.
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