While I'm not a hardcore anime fan, I do find some pleasure out of the Mobile Suit: Gundam series. After all, brave pilots taking control of enormous robot suits has some undeniable appeal.
Dynasty Warriors with Robot Skins
Bandai Namco has taken a familiar route when it comes to its Gundam games, as it's taken Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors gameplay style (where hundreds of thousands of soldiers die by your blades) and successfully wrapped the anime series around it. As a result, the Gundam games have been fairly entertaining, even if the general sense of repetition just can't be shaken. That's a feeling that continues to sink in with the latest chapter of the series, Reborn. It's fine those who enjoy the anime or Dynasty Warriors series, but innovation is nowhere to be found.
The story is pure psychobabble, with heroic soldiers taking on renegade soldiers who continue to use the same sort of tactics to take over areas, despite the fact that they've failed before. Oh well, if at first you don't succeed, right? Fortunately, it's available in traditional Japanese voice acting, so you don't have to listen to the same breed of cornball actors that make the other Dynasty Warriors games so laughable.
From there, after choosing your Gundam suit (from an array of various series in the brand, a nice touch), you'll head into battle, flying your way through a limited stage and wiping out areas overrun with powerful (yet overall useless) enemy Gundams. Once you clear enough of them, you re-take the area and move on to the next one, eventually cleaning house on enemy occupancy until the "boss" characters show up.
Most of the time, these guys are easy to manage, as you guard against an incoming attack, then unleash your own, with a few well-timed strikes and perhaps even a super-charged technique to score an even bigger combo. However, only a particular few offer any sort of genuine challenge. It's like your Gundam suit wasn't built to lose, making you wonder why anyone would go up against it in the first place.
Bash, Bash, Bash (Repeat)
And that's Reborn's biggest problem. Like the previous Gundam games, it doesn't really evolve in any way. You head into a stage and bash, bash, bash, check out what post-story comes from it, then head into the next stage and bash, bash, bash. That's how Dynasty Warriors games have worked over the years (and how they will continue to operate), but I couldn't help but think Bandai Namco could've added something more with big robots at play.
The modes are plentiful, with an Ultimate Mode that opens up various corners of the Gundam universe (something fans will enjoy more than general audiences), and plenty of side missions where you can rack up kills by the hundreds. You can also open up new Gundam suits to try out, although, again, you really won't be doing much with them. It's like having access to all of these race cars, and yet you're forced to drive the same granny training course over and over.
However, the co-op isn't as well implemented as it should be. While split-screen co-op can be a good time, online co-op is held back, due to the fact that you can only join others who have completed the same levels as you. Worse yet, once an online co-op session is over, either you or your buddy are kicked out, and you need to go back in and reconnect. This is a terrible restraint that should've been done away with altogether.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn is sure to be a welcome return for some, but the rust is clearly showing on this series. The presentation is loyal, but also recycled (I swear I've seen some of these animations before); the gameplay is effective but hardly revolutionary; and the modes have something to offer, although co-op can be a frustrating affair if your buddy isn't right beside you. It's decent for anime fans, but you'd think that saving the universe would be a less boring affair.
RATING: 6 out of 10
This review is based upon a PlayStation 3 review code provided by the publisher. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn is available for download now on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3. It is rated T for teen.