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Reviews: Gundam Seed Battle Destiny (7/10)

Posted on : 05-07-2012 | By : | In : Reviews

Hardware:

7

Despite the ongoing and thoroughly erroneous myth that all Gundam games are awful, it’s always nice to play a new Gundam Battle game by Artdink. Pretty much every game in the series has given us hours of gaming pleasure (to a greater or lesser extent obviously). So to finally have another Gundam Battle game after Universe announced for the PS Vita, we were more than a little excited. Interestingly though instead of using the Universal Century timeline, the game is solely based around the Cosmic Era from the Gundam SEED saga.

Despite what many think, changing up to develop from PSP to Vita is no mean feat for a developer as small as Artdink. As the handheld is closer to PS3 levels of development, which means exponentially more art resources and greater code risks. Picking SEED was a relatively “safe” choice as after the original Gundam as it’s one of the pantheon’s most successful entries and if Artdink ballsed it up then the precious UC timeline brand would be untarnished on the new platform. Not to mention that Gundam Assault Survive didn’t really help Artdink in securing more UC timeline work.

In any case, we are very happy to report that Artdink didn’t balls up this new game at all and in fact it’s rather good indeed.

For those that haven’t played the Gundam Battle games over the years, these are succinct mission focused games based around a fixed tethered lock-on setup with both ranged and melee combat. Effectively, Artdink distilled the latter PS2 Gundam games (especially that of Lost War Chronicles) into something that could be played in short bursts on the move. The only slight issue in the first few games however was that the upgrading structure for your mobile suits was a bit of a grind. In subsequent releases this was lessened and by the time of Gundam Battle Universe it wasn’t a problem at all.

Since those games were released, Artdink moved over to make Macross games for the PSP. These were also thoroughly excellent for the most part too and improved the upgrade setup by having it separated out in the front end menu, rather than before each sortie.

Now with Gundam Seed Battle Destiny, whilst there have been all manner of progressive changes there are some similarly odd regressions. The menu system especially is very much like the original Gundam Battle games, with the upgrades done prior to each sortie, which feels unwieldy after the Macross games. In addition the old school grind has returned somewhat, punctuated with some pretty hefty difficulty spikes in places.

These would normally be huge problems if it weren’t for the improvements elsewhere. The biggest and most noteworthy change is that now the game has access to a dual analogue control setup finally. This means you can pretty much play it like a normal third person shooter with a tethered lock-on. Being able to control the camera with the right stick makes a huge difference in not only acquiring targets quicker but also assessing the danger around you. You can still toggle through your targets like you used to but the camera control does make the game a lot more manageable.

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Following on from that the (optional) touchscreen controls for weapon selection are also very helpful. Instead of using a shoulder and face button combination (or d-pad), you can directly select your main weapons by touching the screen. The placement is handled nicely too, as it’s directly next to the face buttons. You can still use the button toggle but we found the touchscreen setup to be quicker and more precise.

The most important concession though is the fact that you now have lives per mission, so you can respawn mid-battle. This helps with a lot of the game’s occasional difficulty spikes. Though more often than not the defense missions are still pretty challenging.

The biggest improvement the game has over its PSP counterparts though is its visuals. Closer to a PS3 game, it has some very impressive depth of field effects going on as well as a lot of similarly lovely anti-aliasing. The mobile suits all look wonderfully detailed but also very clean. The large ships also look very impressive and the environments aren’t bad either. Considering how small the team is, the game looks very good indeed.

Feeding into the new visuals is all the feedback on various impacts as well as Gundam SEED’s usage of phase shift armor. In terms of that latter, mobile suits have an amount of hits they can sustain before the phase shift armor wears out and the mobile suit turns grey. In addition, upon impact you see very clear delineation between active phase shift armor (hexagonal textures) and also when it is in-active. This stylistic approach is also present across pretty much all the in-game particles; simple but clean and subsequently very informative in terms of the messaging.

There are a few annoyances however, as each time you come to the end of your boost gauge a warning klaxon sounds and there isn’t an invert Y-axis option for the right stick camera control either. Admittedly, we’ve tried to find options in the menus to correct these matters but thus far our efforts have been proven to be fruitless. The amount of boost you have is also quite limited initially. So not only do you hear the klaxon quite a lot on account of maxing out your boost but your movement is also pretty encumbered. Later units as well as upgrading the starting grunt mobile suits does help to assuage this lack of boost but after Gundam Battle Universe it feels a bit too restrictive.

Overall then this is in some ways a return to form; with both functionally progressive and regressive attributes but all the while looking suitably swanky. For the first game on a new platform, Artdink have taken the Gundam Battle series very securely forward. If you’re a fan of the Gundam SEED saga, something we’re not overly, then this will definitely hit the spot otherwise you may want to wait for next and inevitable UC timeline entry. In summation then; a solid and engaging Gundam game and one that has done a good job of using the new host platform.

Tamashii: 7/10

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Comments (7)

Out of curiosity, has the melee combat quality increased in this game? in Gundam Battle Universe it wasn’t as bad, as there weren’t many melee focused suits, however, in Assault Survive, which added a few MS that should have been effective in melee such as the Exia, the melee combat felt… bland?

If they did adjust or change it, may I ask which ways it was changed?

It’s basically the same as GBU and GAS really in terms of close combat. If you want a Gundam game with complex close combat mechanics then you should play Gundam Extreme Versus.

Hrm, alright, thank you. It’s not really necessary to the gameplay to me, I was just wondering if it was actually viable while playing.

It’s viable, as I use it, but close combat is still pretty basic.

Personally i’ll refrain from buying the game since i can’t stand seed and seed destiny. But this does make me excited for the next installment(if there is one and if it has UC and other alternate timelines)

It’s thoroughly wishful thinking, but I hope a game in this series focuses almost entirely on side stories and MSV stuff. Minding all the various functional quirks of the various MS would help the variety immensely, even if overusing the Gouf Flight prototype’s boost would blow you up instantly.

Or firing 4th Gundam’s beam more than twice makes you explode.

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