Reviews: Gundam Extreme Versus Full Boost (9/10)

gexfb_coverNot long after the first game was released on console, Bandai Namco announced a new arcade game would follow. That was nearly three years ago and in that time Full Boost has been a huge success in the Japanese arcades. Since coming back to Japan we’ve availed ourselves of the omnipresent arcades and naturally played a large amount of Full Boost too.

As we come from a game development background, primarily that of design, it’s interesting to see how much work went into Full Boost. To look at, the game doesn’t appear to be doing all that much new and could even be regarded as just a shallow cash-in. In reality though, that is a painfully inaccurate appraisal. There’s an enormous amount of improvement across how the game operates, consequently this is one of the most engrossing and rewarding versus games we’ve played in a long time.

Compared to the arcade original, a fair few engine optimisations have occurred in the console port. Much of which beneficially effect the game’s input framerate as well as some nicely nuanced rendering changes. These aren’t huge improvements but still noticeable and are thoroughly welcomed. However, the bulk of the important changes have occurred in the design department.

Now when we say design, we don’t mean high concept idea nonsense. Design is fundamentally about making the game work on a mechanical level. This means getting into the guts of the game and changing all manner of variables as well as changing whole rulesets. It’s arduous and specifically quantifiable work. This is where the majority of Full Boost’s improvements have occurred.

The biggest changes have been to the range and melee balancing over the previous game, namely that melee combat is not as potent as it once was and shot accuracy and power have been decreased. This has brought the whole game into a more mid-range affair and allowed more leeway in terms of dodging incoming shots for the player. To free things up some more, the area of each of the arenas has been slightly increased as well.

The other substantial change is that the EX Burst was split into two types; Assault and Burst. Put simply, Assault takes the offensive aspects of the old EX Burst (but has a shorter duration) whereas Blast takes the defensive elements instead. This means the usage of EX Burst now has a very different tactical make-up and isn’t the last ditch game changer it originally was. In that you can now use Blast burst to create or press an advantage, rather than just curb stomp someone.

The corollary of all these changes is that Full Boost has become far more of a tactical game than its predecessor, as well as facilitated the four player aspect to be less random (as you get spammed a lot less now). Considering these changes had to be balanced across close to a hundred units means the game has had a substantial amount of work done on it over the years. To not notice this kind of very obvious body of work would be frankly idiotic.

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This is not to say that this console port doesn’t have a large amount of new content. The all new mission mode is a lot more manageable now, as each mission has a variety of difficulty options rather than the crazy map setup from the previous game. There are also nowhere near as many insane difficulty spikes in the missions compared to the previous games. Skills also have to be unlocked from certain missions and you can customise them to a greater extent now. Specifically that each skill can be upgraded but only a certain amount of upgrading can occur per unit. This means you can cherry pick what elements that will best fit that mobile suit.

The online options are also great and the netcode is very smooth regardless of connection (though we should be upfront that we’re playing this in Japan). Players are also very polite and thoughtful, mirroring the arcade scene.

As for the downsides, the new “Navi” system can be pretty creepy. In that you can purchase a character, often female, to give feedback after each match as well as in the front end menus. If you get the game at launch you get a Haro Navi for free and that’s pretty cool. However, the female Navis are a bit maid cafe-tastic and that’s just unsettling. Admittedly your mileage may vary on this but from our standpoint it’s a definite minus. Thankfully you can turn the Navis off entirely.

This also partially feeds into the DLC and online setup in general. The DLC pricing is, as you’d expect from Bandai Namco, pretty excessive. All the HUD variants, Navis and character portraits are pretty damn expensive. The unit DLC is also similarly overpriced and, to make matters worse, very generic. To clarify, there aren’t that many new units and instead we’ve been graced by all manner of sideshow clones from various series. This means that many of these DLC units actually share the same movesets as mobile suits already in the game. So you’re almost buying units again that are already included in the game.

The last aspect to the online, and arguably the most disappointing, is that Bandai Namco have attached an online pass to this game. So if you buy the game second hand or borrow it from a friend you’ll need to buy an online pass to play the online multiplayer. If you buy a new copy you obviously get the pass included but this kind of draconian measure is just very disappointing.

The game also comes in two varieties, a standard version and a Premium G Sound Edition. The latter features a lot more licensed music and has an increased price tag to probably cover the license fees off. Both games are functionally identical in terms of game content though.

Overall then, Full Boost is a marked improvement over the previous game and is a huge amount of fun to play. However, all of these improvements have been marred by Bandai Namco basically being greedy bastards when it comes to how the online and extended content has been handled. That aside though, Full Boost is again testament to the fact that there are thoroughly excellent Gundam games out there. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the Gundam mythos these games are still really bloody great.

Tamashii: 9/10

The version reviewed was the Premium G Sound Edition but the standard edition is effectively the same, just with less music. We also played the game with a DualShock 3 as well as with a HORI Real Arcade Pro stick.

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42 Comments

  1. My copy finally came and I was horrified to learn that split screen mode is plagued with horrid framerate issues, something that wasn’t a problem in the previous entry. This is especially disappointing given that my buddy and I spent hour upon hour playing campaign together in ExV and were excited to do so again.

    It could be that you didn’t fiddle with this mode, but it feels like something that should be mentioned in the review.

      1. I have the base version. Also after having spent more time with it, it’s not as bad as I first thought. It really depends on the stage. Moon moon has especially bad slow down for example.

        Still pretty disappointing that there’s any slowdown at all. In a nail biting competitive title like this that can be a dance with frustration.

          1. I have done the data install. Lets see what else. . .

            I’ve only been doing splitscreen arcade mode, not versus. Maybe the slow down is exclusively an arcade mode thing. Start with 1-D, the first mission of that path was the one that had the most performance issues so far.

            1. Okay, tried a bunch of maps out (including 1-D) and not seeing anything bad on the framerate front. It’s pretty much the same as the first game. What type of PS3 are you playing the game on?

              1. I can also confirm the immense near constant frame-rate drops on both splitscreen and online co-op (so 2 different PS3s). I can also assure you it’s not lag.

              2. That’s curious because I can confirm it happening on multiple PS3s (and the commenters up there AND my skype gundam EXVS group and facebook groups have all commented on this). Long story short, I’d score EXVS a 9/10 but this definitely not. Maybe 7/10. It’s like EXVS, but less. By the by, I mentioned lag to rule out that it could be that. Try E-Ex and Boss rush.

              3. This… is actually odd as I have had the opposite happen. I am using a digital version of the game, and I have not had frame issues in the splitscreen or online co-op, but I have had issues in normal Ex-Vs on disc. Me and a friend who normally played the splitscreen noticed this. With ExVs it would drop down the frame rate significantly, on this one, if it is happening, it’s not noticeable on my end. On the lag end of things, I’ve even had better online matches, with those being less laggy than Extreme Vs.

                On the streams I am on with SoulBroRyu on Fighters Ready, we’ve not noticed any kind of frame drops on Boss Rush I don’t think. Him and Fredrex did a stream recently of Boss Rush and it seemed fine.

              4. I prefer the mission mode on two counts; the layout is a lot more intelligible and no idiotic difficulty spikes. That aside there’s loads of design work that seems to have been overlooked by a lot of people (who just look at graphical content, sadly).

              5. Like what, exactly? All the DLC? Less missions? In EXVS there were missions with in-engine cutscenes, you had a map to explore, emblems to collect for actual use in online (the trophies are useless). I’m sorry, I really cannot agree with a 9/10 for this game when single player is crippled and online is stunted by an online pass that kicks out players during running matches once every now and then.

              6. Noting “Some commenters have mentioned this and that” wouldn’t be disingenuous, right? I mean, it’s your review and all, but I’m just letting you know what me and others have noticed.

              7. I still fail to see how the DLC is a negative point. For me, DLC is only a negative point if it takes away from the game by NOT having it. This DLC doesn’t greatly affect or break the competitive meta, and it doesn’t feel like you are missing anything by not having it. Again, for someone like me, DLC like Shin Matsunaga’s Zaku (Who I prefer more than johnny ridden), and fun things like the Zeta Zaku, are worth it. Patrick’s GN-XIII is also a really fun unit, and is entirely new, and so is JOhnny Ridden’s Zaku II. Kamille’s Mk II is a unit that comes from a previous game, and again, we’ll probably see the Maxi Boost units by the time Maxi Boost is fully released.

              8. I don’t agree with that. The DLC are things already on the disc and we have to pay about 280 USD to unlock everything on this disc we paid about 90 USD worth in YEN to obtain. The only “freebies” we got were a Haro navi and Johnny and an IJ clone. They’re not even really /free/ because Johnny and Lacus are going to be pay only in a little while. I think gamers are way too lenient with the way the gaming industry treats DLC. Does anyone even remember expansion packs? For 20 bucks you’d basically have a new game built on the old.

              9. But the DLC is still mostly all cosmetic and whatnot. It’s not NECESSARY to have it. If they released all the Maxi Boost new announced units as DLC in the first 3 months would that be any better? It would break the competitive online meta and feel even more cheap.

              10. It isn’t necessary but 90 dollars isn’t the price for a barebones experience. They ripped out emblems from EXVS but put nothing back for it. If you want a costume that would be an unlockable in any other game you have to pay 300 YEN, what kind of sense does that make? And yeah, I know it was like that for the arcade also, but guess what? Those people were also ripped off (especially considering those things aren’t applicable in Maxi Boost anymore).

              11. ((Sorry for the multiple replies, Disqus is being really weird on my browser and isn’t showing my replies going through))

              12. Erm.,… well, 1. For the people in Japan, it isn’t a 90 dollar game. That’s the price after markups for importing. 2. Did… emblems even matter? They were just kinda there and didn’t really add anything. 3. All these things (Sans the MS) are cosmetics that don’t really affect gameplay. You aren’t losing anything by not having Loran Cehack dressed in his dress. It doesn’t take away from the gaming experience, I would hope, given that it doesn’t change the gameplay. So I don’t see why it’s a big deal. The gameplay didn’t suffer because of the DLC, the gameplay is exactly the same regardless, so why is it so bad? If you don’t really want it, couldn’t you just not buy it and move on? It’s not like the game is incomplete because you don’t have a female character narrating your actions. Or because your gauges look fancier, or because your occassional character cut-in is wearing different clothes. And the DLC might be a bit expensive but it’s probably not normal for someone to have the need to BUY it all. It’s a small price to pay for one element you might wanna change or use.

                Again, I feel more okay with this because it doesn’t feel like you need to pay to win at the game after you already bought it, but rather, you just pay for some small niceties that are completely cosmetic. It’s not something assholish like “We make the MS move slower, but if you buy our THRUSTER PACK you’ll move faster!” or “The original gauge is super convoluted and hard to read, here’s a super accurate thing with MORE HUD OPTIONS THAT GIVES YOU THE ADVANTAGE.” Maybe it’s because I am used to more cynical DLC like this because of games like Dead Space 3 which sell things that are essentially in-game cheats or weapons and stuff, or games like Dragon Age that taunted you with an entire quest line built into the game only to tell you ‘Oh by the way this is DLC you cannot proceed until you buy it.’ but to me, having a couple of fanservice things that only a few people would really want doesn’t seem nearly as bad. Exploitative, yes, but the game doesn’t suffer because of it.

              13. I truly understand your point of “it’s not changing the core game so that’s okay” but I feel that a video game is more than just the 2v2 mode. I mean, if you put it like that then why have fancy menus at all? Why not just boot the game into character select and into online? Why even have music? It doesn’t change the game, right?

                A video game, especially a large budget game like this that’s already based off of something that already made loads of money can and SHOULD do its best to deliver a pleasant experience and not try to milk every penny out of its customers. Customization /is/ fun even if it doesn’t change anything and if it really didn’t matter I wouldn’t be discussing this here with you, would I? I’m not the only person unhappy about this.

              14. I understand. And I can understand wanting customization in the game. I disagree, but I don’t necessarily think I am right. I just wanted to have a bit of a debate with it though. For me, it doesn’t bug me, and I was just listing why it doesn’t bug me. However, I can see what you mean though. You have a point about the menus and whatnot.

                I guess what it comes down to, is what you are going into this game for. For me, as someone who mostly focuses on just doing the ranked multiplayer/matches with friends on a stream, those things don’t bug me as much. However, for someone going into the game for the single player experience and for the missions and whatnot, your complaints aren’t unfounded at all. For what you paid for the game I can understand wanting more (It doesn’t help that with me, well, with birthday and christmas near one another I had a decent amount of money and plus I have sources that can help me get things for a bit cheaper). Still though, since those things don’t bug me, it’s harder for me to fault the game over them even though for others, they are glaring points.

                As someone who focuses mostly on the multiplayer and fighting game aspect, in both the first and second games of the Extreme Vs titled series (Mostly because I don’t think the game engine/type lends itself well to non-competitive mode, and for those I prefer something like Gundam 0081, or the Unicorn game), the game was overall an improvement. However, with how you see it, I can understand it being lesser. I felt that way after buying Street Fighter IV on release, since traditional fighters aren’t my thing, and since I bought it for 60 dollars… yeah. Since at that time I had router so no online play at all, the base game was really… well, boring. Why did I spend 60 dollars on something to just do matches CPU matches and a rather straight up arcade mode with a limited amount of characters when I could have spent that on, say, Tales of Vesperia, or Mass Effect, or even like Fable II which would give me a lot more hours and replayability?

                I guess this is why it’s a weird thing for me to argue about though. Games are a strange thing to debate just because people look for different things in different games. For what I was looking for, Extreme Vs Full Boost completed the job and is still fun for me, hence why I always do the regular streaming and whatnot. It’s something I can be competitive for, so I really enjoy it. For you though, you look for different things in it and so… yeah, it’s just a different set of rules for judgement. Anyway, SOrry for the debate ^^; Just am kinda in a bleh mood and well, bleh mood = bleh attitude.

              15. 90 USD was maybe a little too much. I think that was Premium G, actually. It was 48 euros for me because I was an early bird on AmiAmi.

                But yeah, I agree with you, I’m definitely into for the competitive scene and I am definitely enjoying that (1-star bronze right now with 68% on free matches) but I’m just disappointed in everything but that. Good debate though. I’m just a little worried that this will carry over into games where the competitive part isn’t enough to make up for the rest (like the next senki, for example, though it seems that Sidestories is shaping up alright, no DLC announced yet!)

              16. Yeah, the premium sound G wasn’t worth it. They did the same thing with the Kamen Rider Battride game. Since you have custom soundtracks anyway, you could just put the MP3 of the music you wanted in.

                Anyway, I’m sorry for being a bit debatey/defensive about the game. I’m just… kinda like that with Gundam games. I hate that ‘Gundam Games are all terrible’ stereotype, and I’ve seen MANY people seem to turn on this game and treat it like the worst thing ever because of the DLC. And well, given that this is the internet, extremism abound.

                I guess I felt this would happen because it’s a common fixture in Bamco games. While I really enjoy a lot of Bandai Namco games (Tales, Tekken, I used to like Soul Calibur before 5, and of course Gundam being my favorite general franchise), they have this tendency to do lots of cosmetic DLC (Though Gundam games, sans Battle Operation, tend to have really decent pay schemes). I guess for me, I’d rather have DLC all be cosmetic though, than what has happened to me with several games with the ‘DLC tease’ as I call it, like my Dragon Age example, which is one of the most annoying ones I’ve run into.

              17. Nah, don’t worry. I think the Gundam Vs. games are the best/second best Gundam game series around (the other best being the Senki(-esque) series for me and the 3rd place being the G Gen games). I don’t think it’s a bad game even after DLC, but 9/10 implies something amazing everyone should have played and maybe EXVS was that but I don’t think is a proper follow-up to earn that 9/10.

                Also, the worst DLC I know of is the one in SMT4, a story-based JRPG with story related DLC, that’s ridiculous. Same with Dead Rising 2, the true ending was locked behind Xbox only DLC, seriously.

              18. For me, if the DLC is coming around a fair bit after the game was made, and the DLC was made after the game was released, that’s when it’s okay and good. So even under my definition, FB’s DLC isn’t good. However, for me it’s workable, and it doesn’t make me dislike the normal game, but yeah. The on-disc Mobile Suits (like how we know about Doan’s Zaku), that to me DOES feel kinda shitty, but at least the game even without those units is still near double the unit count of the previous game.

                I guess what I was defending more was the integrity of the base game moreso than the DLC. But anyway, yeah. Sorry if I offended or anything, I wish I could have been a bit more civil earlier on ^^;

              19. No worries, you were plenty civil. I don’t think the unit DLC is /that/ terrible, by the way. It’s the rest that bothers me. I always knew there was gonna be unit DLC and since they’re mostly clones I don’t feel particularly inclined to buy any of them (Which in turn saves me money).

              20. But the Navigators and whatnot aren’t really necessary and are kinda creepy, and I don’t even want them. They are fanservice for fanservice.

                Yes, I think that them having the clone units on disc as DLC is a pretty shitty move, but I’d think it worse if the units were all the new ones introduced in Maxi Boost and we had to pay for those in the first 6 months since that would completely change the competitive meta. And the game, for me at least, still stands pretty well without the DLC. So that’s why I don’t see the DLC as a negative point. To me, the game was solid, fun, and worth the price I paid for it (Though I paid less than 90 total given that I was able to get my PSN cards from a friend with no markup, so I only paid around 70).

              21. Literally the entire game is fanservice. It’s a video game for the fans. Now whether you find the navis creepy or not is entirely up to your discretion but fact stands that they’re crazily overpriced. 350 for a navi and 300 for a damn costume? I’m not saying they have to put in Maxi Boost units in in week 3. EXVS did it differently, they had entirely new units as DLC. Ontop of that unlike for Full Boost, with EXVS, Full Boost didn’t launch less than a month after the EXVS console release (severely cutting its hype and value).

                EDIT: the added bonus of new units in EXVS DLC not from FB was that these could be added to FB on release as added incentive to play those units.

              22. That’s fair. But I think it’s also fair to at least mention it in the review when so many people are dealing with it.

  2. Hi, can you please tell me the difference between the Japan version and the Asia version? They have price differences too, Japan ver is $30 higher.

      1. Thank you for the reply, just one more question: will I be able to use the dlc from my japanese psn account on the asian version, or do i have to get the japan version to use it? sorry if this sounds confusing.

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