With the exception of Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors, the Gundam spin-offs of the Dynasty Warriors series are probably my favorite musou-style games. Granted, this was only the second one I've played, but it has lasers and giant robots, and aside from scantily-clad anime women, those are pretty much the two most important criteria with regards to whether or not I'll like a game. Despite my love of the concept and my fairly newly found love of Gundam, I had some mixed feelings about Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3. It was a fantastic concept, but some of the execution left a bit to be desired. Fortunately, Koei fixed pretty much every single complaint I had when they made Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn, and result is what I consider to be the greatest musou game not on a Nintendo platform.
Visually, Reborn is a good step up from 3. If you're familiar with visuals over the range of the PS3's lifespan, then you'll probably know what I mean when I say that 3 looked like a relatively early PS3 game whereas Reborn looks like a late PS3 game and what a difference that can make. The pre-rendered cutscenes, anime cutscenes, and actual gameplay all look fantastic. The sound design is even better than the visuals. All of the dialogue is voiced in Japanese, but the music is absolutely amazing. Play it through a soundbar and speaker system, and you're in for an amazing experience.
The game has two primary modes, Official and Ultimate. Official Mode takes you through EXTREMELY abridged retellings of the stories of Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, Unicorn Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. This is the mode in which I spent most of my time. Ultimate Mode plays a bit like Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3's bizarre "pilots from all over time and space" story and is framed in a combat simulator rather than real events. There are a massive 189 missions in this Ultimate game type, so there's definitely no shortage of content here. While I preferred playing through the Official storylines more than the Ultimate mode, I do have one complaint with it: the storytelling. Having seen the three compilation movies of the original Gundam series, I followed along with the events of that series' campaign no problem. I haven't seen the other five, though, and while knowledge of the characters and context let me follow along fairly well with Zeta Gundam and Char's Counterattack, I was completely lost in Unicorn Gundam, SEED, and SEED Destiny. Basically it's abridged SO much that if you've seen the series the campaign is based on, you'll follow along no problem, but if you haven't, absolutely nothing will make sense. On the one hand, that's kind of obnoxious for relative Gundam newcomers like me, but on the other hand, it didn't really spoil much of anything since I had no idea what the hell was going on anyway.
Hands down the best of the Gundam musou games, Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn is almost everything you could want out of the genre. Your attacks are much more substantial than in the previous game, making your mobile suit really feel like the massive weapon it is, and the difficulty is scaled back so that Hard still offers a fair challenge but Normal is a relatively relaxed "blow shit up" experience more than a harrowing gauntlet of survival. Unfortunately the game is only available digitally in North America, but I imported a European copy of the game fairly inexpensively - something like $20 or $30 if memory serves? - and the PS3 is region free, so that's an extremely accessible option for collectors like me. No matter how you play it, though, if you're a fan of Gundam and/or the Dynasty Warriors series, this is definitely a must-play.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.