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Gundam Versus

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2017

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PS4 Review - 'Gundam Versus'

by Michael Keener on Dec. 13, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Take control of over 90 Mobile Suits spanning more than 35 years of the Mobile Suit Gundam universe In action-packed team battles.

Buy Gundam Versus

For newcomers and longtime fans, Gundam Versus is the newest addition to a massive lineup of games, where small teams and even 1v1 battles are fought to determine who is the strongest and most badass mech. This title has been built from the ground up exclusively for the PlayStation 4, and it features modes like boss hunt, ranked and casual matches, and various versions of trial running. The title includes about 100 different units, collected from 17 different works of the Gundam anime. Players won't find an immersive Gundam experience with story arcs and a purpose, but the title has some things going for it.

Upon loading up Gundam Versus, I was met with a handful of modes and menus, but little to no explanation regarding where I should start. Luckily, there's not much to learn about the game beyond controlling your Gundam. You're always in some form of a team, whether it's a player-versus-player showdown or a player-versus-computer match. Even if you play 1v1, the team concept remains because each mech has different degrees of skills and life points. For example, if you fight with a stronger Gundam, you may have 500 points before he's destroyed. If you have 1,000 team points, you can afford to die only once before you lose. If you fight with a Gundam that has 300 points, you can get three respawns — four lives in all — but your attack damage and mobility may not be as good. Taking damage doesn't deplete your team score, but respawning does. It's a simple system and allows for some strategy when it comes to making selections.

To dish out damage, you can rely on a melee attack, ranged attack, and a variety of secondary versions of those attacks. The camera is locked all the time, so you can only look at who you're targeting. Switching the target is as easy as pressing a button, but it means that free-aiming ranged shots is out of the equation. Some may like this since it simplifies combat, but it takes away some of the required skill. Evasion works by jumping and dashing around. Once you have used your entire boost, you're forced to the ground and are frozen for a second or two before you can move again. This is when you're most vulnerable, but your opponent isn't immune, so when the tables are turned, it's a great opportunity to attack.

This title is almost exclusively a multiplayer experience. Sure, there are a few ways to play it in single-player mode, but there's no story or campaign mode. You can participate in Ultimate mode, where you try to defeat as many enemies as possible in a predetermined number of waves. Easy Survival has 15 waves, Normal Survival has 30 waves, and Hard Survival maxes out at 50. There is a fourth variation, which is known as Boss Survival, and has you facing 15 waves of bosses. Boss Survival feels even tougher since the bosses can smack you down rather miserably if you're not prepared.

Once you decide which version of Ultimate mode is for you, you can jump into it with an AI partner, invite friends, or hope to get lucky with the online matchmaking. The game has been out for a couple of months, and unless you have a friend to join you, you'll find few to no online match-ups in Easy mode, which  is simple enough that you shouldn't struggle in tackling it solo. The online community is in the Hard Survival and Boss Survival versions, where matches can be found within a minute or two.

Trial Battle is another mode for solo play, and it's the closest thing to a campaign mode. It shows a few seconds of cinematics before the fights, but that does very little to tell a tale. In this mode, you make your way through 10 different routes, each with several stages, and as you do so, the difficulty ramps up significantly. This would feel like a pretty fun game mode, except that all 10 routes are unlocked from the beginning. If you're capable of beating route 10, why would you try the other nine? If you got stuck on one, you can just skip it. That's the entire game in a nutshell: It's open and free to do as you please, but there's no real goal to work toward.

The only real goal one can have in this game is to unlock everything for the Gundams. As you battle, regardless of whether you win or lose, you gain Gundam Points, which cannot be purchased with real world money and can be used to upgrade any Gundam. The only prerequisite is that you must use that Gundam enough to have leveled them up. A possible upgrade unlocks every level up until 10, and then you get the last two at levels 15 and 20. They're not always related to a weapon upgrade, but they can include new emblems, navigators, pilots and titles. Upgrades can cost upward of 500,000 GP.

There are casual and ranked versions of the versus mode, where players square off against other players in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3. The 3v3 is about as dead as can be, which is unfortunate because it's the most intense one. It's easy to find a match for the other modes. The competition from the players in the community is high, and you will get beaten pretty badly during your first few attempts. If you can stick with it, you'll get better. It wasn't until my second game that I killed someone, and it wasn't until the fourth game that I won. Of the title's many multiplayer offerings, the versus mode will have the most longevity.

It seems like there is little difference from one Bandai Namco publishing to the next in regards to visuals, even though there's a variety of developers. Gundam Versus follows many of the typical Japanese RPG art styles, with anime-like graphics and cel-shading. The explosions look a little outdated, which lessens the dramatic feeling when you finish off an opponent, but since the game doesn't shoot for realism, it can be overlooked as a small graphical underperformance. The highlight was seeing my Gundam whip out a giant rifle and shoot bright pink beams everywhere, or his sword shining orange as I dash up to an enemy to slice and dice them. The developers did a great job of making every attack look and feel powerful. In regards to the audio, everything is voiced in Japanese.

The online performance suffers from stuttering, tearing, and lag if you are matched up with someone who has a bad internet connection. I found this problem in my very first online match, and it was a common occurrence thereafter. Occasionally, I had smooth-running games with good fps.

It's tough to say whether Gundam Versus is worth the purchase at full price. It lacks content, especially for those interested in single-player modes, and the multiplayer portion can easily be tarnished if you're matched with someone who has a poor internet connection. When the stars align and everything is functioning properly, there's a lot to love here. It doesn't make any efforts to impact gamers and bring in new players. When you have a small community to begin with, the only way to go is down. The only reason to buy Gundam Versus is if you have friends who will play it with you, or if you feel you'd get enough use from the single-player options to merit the purchase.

Score: 6.0/10

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