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Gundam Versus – Review (PlayStation 4)

There are few things more satisfying than seeing giant robots fight. Huge, hulking machines, using state-of-the-art weapons, facing off against each other without a care as to what is destroyed around them.  Gundam has been a franchise all about these immensely powerful machines.

Since its inception in 1979, Gundam has captivated audiences all around the world from the original Gundam to Gundam Wing to the recently released Gundam: Iron- Blooded Orphans. Spanning decades, the themes of war, strength, love, and power permeate in what can best be described as an epic space opera, spanning multiple iterations and designs.

No matter what is going on, each series has revolved around the Gundam, a cutting-edge mobile suit made out of the rare Gundanium alloy. possessing remarkable strength, these machines are equipped with the latest firepower and capabilities. It takes a highly skilled operator to professionally pilot them, which brings us to Gundam Versus, the newest fighting video game from Namco Bandai.

Gundam Versus

Completely skipping the story, Gundam Versus is a mecha fighting game, similar to SEGA’s Virtual-On series. As the original Gundam Versus found remarkable success in Japan, Namco Bandai has managed to bring the game here to the United States. The end result is something, solid, fun, and quite remarkable, but could have used a little more.

Gundam Versus is unique in that it is a 3D fighting game that will have players running and boosting across the battlefield, all in an effort to successfully defeat their foes. Players will use close-range melee weapons, ranged weapons, support items, and their quick evasive tactics to engage and successfully defeat their enemies. It’s a fast and frantic combat experience, requiring swift relexes and awareness of your enemy, as well as the capabilities of your machine.

The fighting roster spans almost the entire Gundam universe from the original Gundam to Gundam Seed to Gundam 08th MS Team to my personal favorite, 1995’s Gundam Wing. Each machine has its own unique combat capabilities so no two machines are really the same. Each machine has set of unique moves set by simple two-button combos, as well as a GP cost, depending on the type of suit you choose. Players are also capable of choosing their support item, which can range from a mobile suit providing sniper fire to a drone firing rockets. After a simple training mode, players can set out into the game.

Gundam Versus has a single player trial mode, a training mode, an endless wave mode, and of course, local as well as online multiplayer.  Players can fine tune their skills in the trial and endless wave modes, as each battle yields experience to unlock new items and characters for your mobile suit. Multiplayer will be the bread-and=butter of the game, and players will have the options of going 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 in various environments that span the universe of Gundam.  Each suit as a GP point limit, which will be essential in matches. The higher the GP unit, the more advanced the suit and the higher the cost of the suit in battle. However, if you die midmatch, that will decrease your GP unit threshold, inching you closer to defeat.

The presentation feels ripped right from the anime. Sunrise Animation Studios gave Namco Bandai access to their archives and allowed not only incredibly well-designed recreations of the mobile suits but also direct sound sampling. The footsteps of the Gundams, laser rifle fire, boosters, and even Wing Suit’s trademark sound effect when using his particle cannon are all directly sampled here, making the experience an incredibly nostalgic one. Even the original music from the respective eras of Gundam play as well, which oftentimes gave me a very nostalgic feeling midmatch.

The gameplay is fast and frantic, which may leave players slightly disoriented. However, if they are familiar with the frenzied chaos of Super Smash Brothers, they may feel at home here. Battles happen incredibly quickly, and players will have to pay attention to the locomotion of their Mobile Suits. Each move, whether its a melee attack to ranged, leaves them exposed to counterattack. Knowing when and how to deploy your attacks is quintessential to victory. Though, in the heat of battle, when lasers are flying over your head, it is incredibly fulfilling to be able to successfully land a combo with your beam saber or range attack.

Each Gundam will have a learning curve as well. For my playthrough, I chose Wing Suit Zero from Gundam Wing and found him powerful, but a little difficult to figure out with his various attacks. Though, after some time, I managed the learning curve. Whether you are playing single player modes or multiplayer, players are sure to enjoy themselves with gameplay in Gundam Versus.

However, Gundam Versus isn’t without its faults, and that is the glaring lack of a single player campaign. How and why this is the case is unknown, but it feels like a total missed the opportunity. As the Gundam franchise has spanned over thirty years, a cohesive single player campaign would have highlighted the unique talent and various experiences that the Gundam franchise has had.

From the epic space battles of Mobiel Suit Gundam to the Vietnam War-like battle of Gundam 08th MS Team, a campaign would’ve highlighted much of what makes the franchise still popular decades later. Additionally, finding 3v3 rooms was difficult online, and there was some lag in 1v1 and 2v2 matches that hindered the fighting. However, for the most part, I was able to enjoy my online experience, though, for players without online, they will be missing out on quite a lot of content.

Gundam Versus is a swell fighting game with a deep roster, unique combat mechanics, and a stellar presentation. While it lacks in single player content, there is always the hope that more content will be added to the game, and that the success of Gundam versus may pave the way for more Gundam video games here in the United States. For both older fans and newer fans, as well as those looking for a new fighting experience reminiscent of Virtual-On, you can’t go wrong with the thrills that are a part of Gundam Versus.

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