reviews\ May 4, 2009 at 8:00 pm


I love reruns. Who doesn’t? Next to first-time experiences, there’s nothing better than re-playing your favorite game or re-watching your favorite film or TV show.

There are times, however, when reruns don’t work. We all know the moment: a new game is released, we take it home, tear off the plastic, and pop it into the console. We pick up the controller, start to play through the first few levels and start to wonder, “Did I put in the wrong disc?”  We pick up the game box and read the text. “There’s a ‘2’ in the title. It’s got to be the sequel.” We eject the disc and discover that it has a ‘2’ written on the front as well. “Hmmm. Maybe they put the wrong game on the disc.”

After wondering what went wrong, the truth is slowly revealed: this isn’t a rerun. It’s a rehash. The difference between the two, of course, is that the former is already in your possession and can be enjoyed whenever you please. The latter is packaged as a sequel and must be purchased at full game price. By now, Dynasty Warriors fans have come to expect that. The core games – those outside of the Gundam spin-off – haven’t evolved in years. But with Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, the developers had finally taken a few steps forward, starting with smoother controls, an improved frame rate, and vastly superior enemy content (more enemies were crammed onto the screen than ever before). Thus, it was only natural that we’d assume – or at the very least hope – that DW: Gundam 2 would buck the rehash trend of its non-Gundam predecessors and continue down the evolutionary path.

If more of the same is what you’re seeking, Gundam 2 isn’t likely to disappoint. There aren’t any technical or gameplay advancements, just a new set of battles that closely resemble those of the first game.

The mobile suit content seems to be about the same as the first DW: Gundam. Two years later, that isn’t too impressive, especially when other games have already pushed character integrations to their limits. But the model details are still amusing, if not downright eye-catching, and the attacks are still represented with anime-quality animations. It’s about what you’d expect the Gundam series to look like in a 3D world, occasionally surpassing the effects of Gundam’s other 3D outings.

Once again, battle engagements revolve around the relentless hacking and slashing of nearby combatants. Dozens are dropped into each area, and unlike the non-Gundam DW releases, these baddies aren’t ruined by a lack of complexity or coherency. Not to say that these guys are smart – you can launch a direct attack and they’ll very rarely know how to deal with it. (That’s probably because there isn’t much they can do except take the hit and hope they don’t die.) But the enemies won’t just stand there and wait to die – they’ll launch a few attacks of their own, hoping that the whole “strength in numbers” theory proves to be true. Boy, I sure hope they haven’t seen the movie 300…

SP attacks (AKA those that are “special”) is another returning feature. And just as before, it’s a superior, albeit limited, attack that can give you a fighting edge when you need it most. Normal and charge attacks, as well as the quick-moving boost feature, are also present in this edition.

Official Mode, the primary game type within DW: Gundam 2, is not that different from the story-based content of the first game. Choose a character from the original Gundam saga, read (and listen) to a few story tidbits, and enter the battlefield for hours of button-mashing carnage.

Mission Mode provides another opportunity for proving your hack-n-slash supremacy. As you can imagine, it involves a series of individual missions and mission types (such as the collection of items). If you want to battle with a friend, Versus mode lets you do that offline. If that’s not enough – and it rarely is for gamers these days – the Dynasty Warriors series has finally upped the ante by including an online mode where up to four can compete simultaneously. It’s not an exquisite inclusion by any means, but for DW fans that have been craving this sort of development, this gives them a reason to play the Gundam sequel – even if the many rehashed elements turned them off.

DW: Gundam 2 follows in the footsteps of the other Dynasty Warriors games. It’s a sequel that is unavoidably more of the same. You won’t find any significant gameplay changes or advancements. If you enjoyed the last game – and have not yet had your share of the DW gameplay style – this is worth renting. However, if you invested several hours in the first release, and several additional hours in DW’s other iterations (offshoots included), DW: Gundam 2 is somewhat of a drag. You’ll have fun for the first few missions and spend the rest of the game wondering, “Is this it? All of it?”

Review Scoring Details for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2

Gameplay: 6.4
Have you played any of the non-Gundam Dynasty Warriors games? This one is just like them, minus the frame rate issues of the PS2 releases. And if you've played the first DW: Gundam, this is essentially the same game all over again.

Graphics: 7.9
Still a good-looking game, but the improvements are minor and hard to spot.

Sound: 5.9
The music is a little better this time around, but the voice-overs aren't too impressive. This game was another missed opportunity to improve upon and evolve the many Gundam storylines.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Returning Dynasty Warriors players won't be challenged by this offering.

Concept: 5
Just like the first game: it's Dynasty Warriors with Gundam characters. The only difference now is that the merging of these two properties is no longer fresh.

Multiplayer: 6
An improvement over the last game but not by much.

Overall: 6.2
Few button-mashing, kill-every-enemy-in-sight video games (typically known as brawlers or beat-‘em-ups) have lasted as long as the Dynasty Warriors series. DW: Gundam 2 isn't the game-changing sequel it should have been, nor is it as big of a step forward as the first DW: Gundam was two years ago.

Above Average

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