Sunday, May 1, 2016

My thoughts on Gundam Breaker for PS3

I recently got my hands on a copy of the original Gundam Breaker for the PlayStation 3 and I've had a lot of fun playing through it. If you're not aware, Gundam Breaker is a game where you build, customize, paint and fight with Gunpla. In a lot of ways this is the video game equivalent of picking up your Gunpla and slapping them together in some epic fight until they fall apart. It's repetitive, but it's also a lot of fun and I appreciate how well the customization is integrated into the game play. This isn't a clever or thoughtful game and it doesn't claim to be; it's loud, clunky and awesome.


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If you're in the US you probably have two important questions that you'd like answered before I go any further:

Can I play this game on my US Region PlayStation 3?


Can I play the game if I cannot understand written or spoken Japanese?

The answer to both questions are "yes". The PlayStation isn't region locked; you can play this and probably most other Japanese games out there.  The controls and mechanics for this game are very easy to understand. If you want a crash course you can check out the guides that I found to be helpful here and here.

I only have about eight to ten hours into the game so far, but I feel like I can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect if you pick this game up. The game has two basic areas, you have the hanger and the mission areas. In the hanger you can select missions and customize your Gunpla. The mission areas are where you battle it out against waves of enemies. The locations of the battles will vary and include: deserts, Jaburo base, icy mountains, aircraft carrier, a Gunpla workbench and a roulette table. 

The hanger is where you select missions and build and customize your Gunpla. You gain new parts during missions by literally breaking enemy Gunpla. Once you have obtained parts you will build the parts in the hanger, then assemble and customize your own Gunpla. You are able to choose different: heads, bodies, legs, arms, backpacks, melee weapons, ranged weapons, items, special moves and modules to customize your Gunpla. You can also paint each of these areas separately and add predetermined decal schemes. The painting also allows you to add pre-shading, camo and weathering options. 

Progression happens in a few ways. As you defeat enemies your OS level increases, this allows you to use more powerful parts. As you build new Gunpla parts your Builder level increases providing you with more powerful versions of a part. In the early stages these levels increases quickly, but as the game progresses that rate decreases. The slowdown can make progression feel a bit "grindy" at times.

The performance of your Gunpla is driven entirely by the stats of the parts you use, but different parts also have different effects. For example: using more parts from a Zaku will increase your compatibility with heathawks (axes) or equipping a set of legs from the Dom will allow your Gunpla to hover instead of walking. You can build your kit anyway you like and over time you will develope a preference. I normally like to build a well rounded machine in games like Armored Core, but I found that specializing in melee combat was more effective and engaging than shooting from range in Gundam Breaker.

Missions seem to break down into a few generic categories. You can fight your way through several map areas towards a more powerful boss type enemy, fight waves of enemies on a larger map, battle huge mobile armors or Perfect Grade kits or defend nodes from enemies. Ultimately, the game-play is the same for each game type; you battle it out until only you or your team's Gunpla are left standing. 

Combat in the game is fairly straight forward. Mobile suits will have different melee and ranged attacks based on the equipment you select. Most melee and ranged weapons have two type of attacks mapped to the square and triangle buttons. You can combine both attack types for combos to juggle or stun lock opponents. You can also use your Gunpla's verniers to jump and boost around the map using the X button. As you progress in the game you will also unlock special types of attack or support moves by using the circle button. At a certain point in the game you will unlock a hyper mode type ability that allows you to do more damage and gradually recover hp.

Combat is repetitive in the same way games from the Dynasty Warriors series are repetitive. However, if you like that type of play style then you will probably like this game as well. At some points when my weapons started to fall a bit behind, enemies started to feel a little too willing to soak up damage. This game feels at its best when you are able to quickly dispatch the weak enemies while still feeling like the mini-bosses and end bosses still present you with a challenge. 

Final Thoughts:

I personally have had a lot of fun playing this game, but I know it's not for everyone. It can be a thoughtless button masher at times, but it's also really empowering to see the custom Gunpla you built mowing down tons of enemies. I absolutely love the customization that this game has to offer and I will definitely pick up the two sequels to just to see how far they pushed this feature. If you can find a copy of this game for under $25 I'd recommend picking it up.

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