The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is a franchise known worldwide and is often dubbed as Japan's equivalent to Star Wars, this long enduring saga since its debut in 1979 has spawned a multimedia empire with thousands of TV episodes, merchandise of all kinds, and is considered to be somewhat of a household name in Japan when it comes to giant robots. Video games are abundant when it comes to Gundam and it has been a while since we had one in the west.
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is the newest entry in the Gundam VS video game series that originated from the arcades in Japan. It has garnered a very competitive following in the arcades and home consoles in Japan and it has now miraculously made it to the west for Gundam fans to finally try out without having to import to get their slice of intense robot-on-robot action.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force (PlayStation Vita) Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment Publisher: Banday Namco Entertainment Released: July 12, 2016 MSRP: $39.99
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is the first time that the long running Gundam VS game series from Japan has ever hit the overseas markets. First thing to make clear, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is not a one of the many third person shooter games that litter the gaming landscape these days nor just a simple action game at first glance.
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is more that of a competitive fighting game, and can get technical with each Gundam unit acting as its own unique playable character with its own moves and style of play. Another thing that makes this game different is that the controls are more arcade action game which is no surprise since this game first started out as an arcade game then came to home consoles. This may turn off those wanting to pick up a Gundam game expecting to be a bad ass and start blowing stuff up like in the many previous games in the franchise.
The game is split between two types of play: "Versus" type, where you and a partner fight two other opponents at a time in small arenas; and "Force" type, a MOBA-like mode that focuses on different objectives to win the mission.
Versus type is a head-to-head duel with an AI partner against one or two opponents, sometimes even more. This mode focuses on solely trying to defeat the enemy force until their bar depletes to zero and they cannot respawn anymore.
Force type is a tactical mode wherein two sides fight to take over different points on a battlefield. Captured turret points spawn minions that provide a little bit of resistance to the enemy side but can help contribute to winning missions. Win conditions can vary from destroying all enemies to capturing all the points in the map to escorting allies to points. This mode gets even more tactical with capturing points yields force points that allow power ups that can increase your side's attack power or defense to even using your ally spaceship's large gun to attack the enemy ship.
The main campaign mode new to the series in this game, Extreme Force mode, will let you go through a series of Force mode scenario missions with some Versus mode duels sprinkled in the game. The missions in the game can be replayed with mini-goals that increase replay value, these vary from finishing it under a certain time, taking no damage, not losing any units, etc.
This single player mode has a very lean story used as framing device as a way to allow you to replay various story segments primarily from the main Gundam universe, with a few from the alternate Gundam universes, and some original "remix" missions unique to the game.
Each mobile suit has a unique style and weapons with most mobile suits handling differently from each other such as certain mobile suits focusing on melee combat while others excel in projectile and ranged combat. The controls do take getting used to and learning each one does take a little bit of time but sometimes new missions will drop you into the cockpit of a new suit that completely controls differently than the last and will not let you switch to any familiar suits until you beat that mission. Though this seems counterproductive to player progression, it does let the player try out the different suits and helps out in finding one that suits your style (no pun intended).
The degree of learning and involvement that required to progress with the game may slow down some players, but the option to somewhat brute force your way into the game by trying different tactics or even spending extra points on some a temporary boost can help quite a bit, which I did while trying to learn the different Mobile Suits.
One gameplay mechanic that is integral in surviving in the game is dodging enemy fire by using your mobile suit's boosters to dash quickly, which takes some practice to get down and can be a challenge, sometimes it seems like you need to be psychic (or a newtype) to be able to dodge the barrage of enemy fire. The lack of right stick aiming might turn off players but the auto-targeting makes all about timing your shots carefully.
I'm not a fighting game fan and I somewhat steer clear of fighting games because of the sheer technicality and depth found in the genre that impresses and intimidates me at the same time because I don't think I will be ever good enough. However, this game has me hooked and has me coming back for more.
The aforementioned control system is very much designed for fighting in an open field with one or two enemies, this is perfect for versus mode where this system was designed in mind whereas it might trip you up in Force mode when enemies aren't focusing on just fighting you.
The lock-on also becomes a bit of problem when disengaging a lock-on with an enemy that flies past you while you still want to move forward. The whole control system reminds me of those old Gundam games on PlayStation 2, but much more refined and surprisingly works well for establishing a uniform control system for all the mobile suits despite the uniqueness of the suits.
Gundam fans will enjoy this game with the lineup of mobile suits from the original series all the way to the latest entry, Iron Bloded Orphans. Gundam fans will enjoy it more than non-fans, knowing the characters and settings adds to the experience but is not really necessary for those wanting some robot action.
Visually, the game looks good on the PlayStation Vita's screen while in motion (as well as PlayStation TV), the screenshots in this review do not give it justice. I don't recall any slowdown while playing this game and does keep up well with the intense twitchy action. One thing that the game does lack is an online enabled multiplayer mode with only an ad-hoc mode available for multiplayer.
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is not for everyone, but do not let this scare off anyone interested in wanting a game that rewards those willing to learn all the ins and outs without much hand-holding. Nowadays, more and more games are leaning towards that direction and this game came at the right time for those looking for a bit of depth in their giant robot action game.
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Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force reviewed by: Red Veron
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. I like it. I don't want to be with it forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested, and I'll be revisiting it to relive the fun sometime down the line.