The Dynasty Warriors series is one that never likes to change much about its core formula, and Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is a prime example of that. If you have played a Dynasty Warriors game before you know exactly what to expect, it sticks to the exact same formula that Koei has used for nearly a decade. As much fun as I’ve had with the series up to this point, I do find the Dynasty Warriors games becoming a little stale at this point. That’s not to say that there isn’t fun to be had with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, it just doesn’t turn out to be the step forward that Dynasty Warriors 7 was earlier this year.
If you’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game before the concept is simple; you take control of one super powerful warrior and then proceed to hack your way through hundreds of enemy soldiers and generals across expansive battlefields. The only difference here is that in this game all of the characters are giant mobile suits. This only causes a few minor changes like the inclusion of a dash for every character as well as ranged attacks.
The major difference from most Dynasty Warriors games is the objective and layout of most battles. The maps that battles take place on are made up of things called fields. These are special areas controlled either by your forces or your enemies, and to capture one you have to defeat a certain number of mobile suits inside of the field. Some fields have unique properties as well, such as your HQ giving your generals the ability to respawn. The ultimate end objective of most battles is to take down the enemy general, to do this you are going to have to make him appear. The only way that an enemy general will appear is if the enemy’s battle gauge has been reduced to zero, you can do this by capturing fields or defeating enemy leaders. You have the ability to respawn if your own battle gauge has some remaining, but if it is empty when you are defeated its game over.
Battle is overall pretty simple in Gundam 3 just like most Dynasty Warriors games. You have your basic attack mapped to the square button, charge attacks as well as beam attacks are on the triangle button, you can dash with x, guard with L1, and circle activates your special attack. New to the series is the inclusion of partner attacks, when the partner gauge fills you can call in your selected partner character to help you with a quick super attack. As simplistic as it is, it takes a while for the battle system to get old. You start out with a short chain of available attacks, but as your character levels up higher chains and combos are made available to you.
One thing that adds a lot of variety to the game is the huge amount of selectable pilots and mobile suits. Pilots all serve the same basic function, and result to nothing more than personal choice in the end once you can purchase licenses for any mobile suit but the different mobile suits and gundams are all nicely varied. Most have a distinct feel to how they play and you will quickly discover your favorites. Game play takes place through missions; you have story missions and a multitude of side missions as well. Unfortunately missions all take place on a handful of maps, and you’ll find yourself playing through the same map a lot of times. As you progress these missions become increasingly difficult, and by the end any mission you undertake becomes a true challenge no matter how much you’ve leveled your character.
Speaking of leveling, pilots gain experience through each battle you use them in and gain levels accordingly up to level 50. Mobiles suits on the other hand have to be upgraded with items and money that your receive from battle.
By far the biggest shortcoming of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 is the story. The series isn’t known for its storytelling in the first place, but after the great job that was done with Dynasty Warriors 7 I was more hopeful for this entry. Unfortunately, nothing ever really comes from the story. It basically turns out to be a muddled and confused affair, whose only purpose is to fill the slot for missions and provide Gundam fans with interaction between their favorite characters. While I can ultimately live with the lack of story, it definitely would have been nice to see something decent put together here especially with the great amount of content you have in the Gundam series. On the other hand, the absolutely massive amount of missions to undertake as well as an online co-op mode and various mobile suits provide more than enough content for fans to sift through.
Sound is sort of a shaky area for this game. Music, while it is decent, doesn’t have much variety and falls below the bar for a Dynasty Warriors game. Voice acting is on average pretty bad, although there are some exceptions to this. Sound effects on the other hand are handled well, and they sound perfectly true to the Gundam Series.
Graphics is the one area where you can see a definite improvement from the previous Gundam games. The game has been given a brand new cel-shaded art style and it works really well for it. The mobile suits look great and their animations are perfectly fluid, it even felt at times like I was actually watching an anime. Environments on the other hand, are completely dull and lifeless. They aren’t something you’ll find yourself wanting to look at for hours on end. The few cg cut-scenes that you get scattered throughout the game are a nice addition as well. What’s impressive is that the game manages to keep a silky smooth frame rate all of the time. Not once did I experience any slowdown, no matter how many characters and effect were onscreen at once.
In the end, I found Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 to be a bit disappointing. It isn’t an awful game, but certainly not the evolution of the series that I would have liked to of seen. There’s still fun to be had here, but only fans of either the Gundam or Dynasty Warriors series will find themselves playing it for hours on end. If you enjoy hack-n-slash games in general you might consider picking this up at some point too, it’s easy to soak a ton of hours into the missions and it’s at least nice to see Koei games making the graphical leap to the current generation.