One would think that a long-running franchise like the Gundam series with so many iterations and so many giant robots would have no trouble cobbling together an enjoyable experience of some sort. Yet, time and again, most games that bear the mark of Gundam have fallen quite short of the mark of real quality. Unfortunately, New Gundam Breaker continues the time-honored tradition of offering up something that sounds like a cool concept from the outside but lacks the proper execution on the inside to be anything more than a mediocre gaming experience at best.
Back to School
New Gundam Breaker’s story is quite odd to say the very least. Players take on the role of a new student at a high school specifically for kids who are adept at building Gundam plastic models (Gunpla for short) and fighting with them in VR combat scenarios. At some point, the original student council was usurped and taken over by a benevolent new group of students. It’s up to the players to help form a resistance, make allies, and help turn the school back into a Gunpla utopia for all.
Players will take on the student council through a number of Gunpla battles in order to restore balance to the school. During combat with other mechs, players will be able to knock parts off of their opponents and augment their own models with the new parts either right there in combat or they can be stored and added to a player’s parts collection for later customization. The combat itself is somewhat akin to Dynasty Warriors titles with a third-person hack-and-slash motif that throws in some booster rockets and laser cannons for good measure.
Battles mostly take place in 3-on-3 matches that pit the player and their two AI companions against an opposing team in a race to garner more mission points than the other side before time runs. Missions can involve things like defeating a certain number of specific Gundam model types that spawn around the area, collecting special parts, opening supply crates, or taking out larger boss-sized enemies. Missions can end when the timer runs out or the main mission is completed. In other matches, it may be necessary to complete enough side missions in order to reach and complete the main mission before time runs out.
While many of New Gundam Breaker’s features sound great in concept, unfortunately, its execution is nowhere near as on point. Control mechanics in combat are lethargic
The challenge level does amp up a bit here, but the only time I really lost matches was due to being disoriented by a new map or not fully understanding the need to complete a Main Mission versus just accruing more points than the other team. There’s not much overall variety to the combat either, it’s pretty much 3-on-3, or not-3-on-3 and the tasks you’re given are invariably the same for both. I also found it odd that missions areas would fluctuate between settings like classrooms where the mechs felt like their miniature Gunpla counterparts and areas that felt like a real combat zone, like an icy tundra or desert plain.
It doesn’t help that there are usually several scenarios for any given battle that revolve around different supporting characters. I felt like instead of adding to the game’s replay value all it did was force completionist players to do the exact same mission two or more times in order to fully progress. While each scenario does have different cutscenes, that’s hardly a bonus as the story is rather bland and not enthralling at all.
Just about every aspect of the story plays out like a very dull dating sim with lots of static images of the characters laid in generic backgrounds with some hard to read
Strike a Pose
The one thing that I felt that New Gundam Breaker nailed on the head was the model building aspects. Collecting and redesigning combat mechs was the most enjoyable part of the game for me personally, but I admittedly am all about character customizations. Not only can players make unique Gundams, they have a ton of paint and detail options available to them as well.
Players can give their Gundams things like leopard print or checkered design patterns, make custom color palettes, add gloss or dirt and grime effects, and use the internal base parts to modify their models for their type of gameplay. And once a player is all done building the perfect mech they can choose from a number of poses and backgrounds to take some pics with. It’s just unfortunate that this depth doesn’t seem to carry over to any other aspects in New Gundam Breaker.
Beyond making models and the story mode there’s not much else going on with the game. There’s an online mode, but I was not able to connect with anyone to try it out. But the multiplayer option was essentially a chance to play 3-on-3 mode with strangers or friends on the internet. I highly doubt there would’ve been anything in those matches that could have changed my mind about the overall quality of the game.
New Gundam Breaker definitely has some great nuanced aspects to its core concept of mix-and-match mech model making, but what it needed was more variety to spice up the gameplay. While last year’s Gundam Vs was nothing mind-blowing it was a much more solid and mixed combat experience. If New Gundam Breaker succeeded in anything, however, it would be making me want another Dynasty Warriors Gundam game. If you’re a hardcore fan of giant robots you may want to pick up a copy to keep your collection complete, but other players may want to wait for Bandai-Namco to build a better Gundam game