I went through a lot of phases playing Gods Eater Burst, as one often does when playing a complex, in-depth game. First I was confused, and then oscillated between liking it, not liking it, and flat out not getting it. It became pretty apparent that, unlike me, you have to know what you're getting into and know what you want out of a game like Gods Eater before jumping in.
So what exactly should you look to get out of it? Let me try and explain after the break.
Gods Eater Burst (PSP)
Namco tried to duplicate Capcom's Monster Hunter with Gods Eater Burst and there's no way around that key fact. It's a game where you and up to three other insanely dressed, giant-weapon-wielding teenage God Eaters go on monster killing romps, after which you harvest the monster's body parts which you use to create more giant weapons to kill more monsters.
I really don't know if that bit I mentioned about the costumes is an adequate complaint for two reasons. First, there are people who are genuinely into that sort of Tetsuya Nomura-esque crazy fashion that's been showing up in Japanese games recently. I'm just not one of them. Second, the women in this game are ridiculously sexy. Just... seriously, wow. No complaints from me.
The game has a lot of English voice acting with no Japanese option, and is competently performed for the most part. However, in the intro when everyone is introducing themselves they noticeably pause before and stumble through their Japanese names as if they had just read them for the first time. Some of the voices get a bit irritating and repetitive during missions, though this can be mitigated somewhat by not choosing the teammates with annoying voices. Strangely, though, whenever any character capable of shooting attacks fires a shot they shout "Perforate!" A very odd word choice, and it happens all the time.
You play the role of a God Eater tasked with hunting down and destroying Aragami, the monsters that showed up suddenly on Earth many years ago and quickly reduced it to a near ruin. You can choose a sex, hairstyle, face, voice, and outfit for your character, and I made mine look a bit like me with a ponytail just for kicks.
Your character is special because you are a New Type God Eater, capable of carrying a God Arc of variable type. You always have a gun, blade, and shield equipped, and each equipment type comes in three styles which basically boil down to small, medium, and large. During missions you have the ability to switch between your chosen blade and gun, though your shield can only be used when the blade is equipped. Your companions consist mostly of Old Type God Eaters, who's God Arcs are a set type of weapon that can't be changed. When you accept a mission you get to choose which of them to accompany you, picking different partners with different weapons to better match the Aragami you're fighting.
The basic flow of the game has you going from hub world to mission and back again. Actually, that's really all that happens. At the main hub, the Fenrir Far East Branch, you can select missions, talk to teammates, buy, sell, organize items, craft, and upgrade your equipment. On missions you have a set target monster or monsters to kill, and you can also pick up collectible loot or fight non mission-specific monsters that may inhabit the area. After the target is destroyed, you go back home and do it all over.
I know very few people with PSPs and absolutely nobody else with Gods Eater Burst so I was unable to test out the ad-hoc multiplayer, but the AI controlled characters are pretty decent. Your companions pretty much do what they need to do without getting in your way. There's a strange sort of halfway friendly fire in this game where getting hit with a shot fired by an ally will knock you back but not hurt you. It gets annoying if you choose the one partner with a flamethrower-type weapon, but is otherwise not a big problem. Even better is the fact that partners use their own healing items when they get hurt instead of yours, so you never really feel like you're babysitting a bunch of idiotic lemmings who mainline all of your restorative injections whenever they get scratched.
The same can't be said for the camera controls, which you'll be fighting through the whole game. There just aren't enough buttons or analog sticks on the PSP to give you really good control over 3D free-roaming games while also mapping unique actions to each button. You use the analog nub to move and the d-pad to control the camera, and you physically can't do both at once with your left thumb even though you really need to. Instead of being able to adjust the camera freely as you move, you have to constantly tap the L button to center the camera if you run any direction other than straight ahead. You can also use a lock-on function if an enemy is near and you have a blade equipped, but its usefulness diminishes if there is more than one enemy present.
There's a story that tries to tie everything together, but the setting seems conflicted and lazily put together. The world has been devastated by the arrival of the Aragami, who devour anything and anyone in their path. Most of the population lives in ghettos outside of various headquarters of the Fenrir mega corporation, who seem to be the only ones with the technology to fight the monsters. They periodically select members of the population with the proper genetic matches to wield giant God Arcs, weapons made of the same 'Oracle Cells' that compose the Aragami. Despite the nominally harsh background of the God Eaters, they seem to have no trouble wearing the upscale (and in many cases outright ludicrous) clothing that they do, and one of them prattles on about some TV show that he enjoys. You never actually see anything of human civilization in the game other than the Fenrir office and the mission areas.
At any given time you have a list of missions to complete: most are done for the sake of the item rewards, but one or two will be story missions, and completing them will advance the plot a bit. Even then, the whole of the game is a very repetetive loop of you going to fight, coming back to mess with your items a bit, and going back out. This is where it's crucial to determine if this is what you want in a game. Gods Eater Burst is made for the types who like to micromanage their inventory and keep advanced spreadsheets of what items they have and need, or draw up item crafting trees.
If that's not your cup of tea, then it will feel like you're jumping through hoops arbitrarily and selling hours and hours of your finite lifespan in exchange for a wimpy pat on the head and some valueless virtual goods. There is a bit of skill involved in fighting the Aragami as you have to learn some of their tells before they attack, but fights drag on long enough to feel like you're just chipping away at a monotonous task.
If you don't want a time sink then I'd recommend you avoid this game, but if you really dig what's going on in these screens or 'grind fest' doesn't make you feel icky, then maybe give it a look.
Score - 5.0
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