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Reviews: Gundam Senki 0081 (8/10)

Posted on : 14-09-2009 | By : | In : Reviews



gundam_senki_ps3_coverWhen the PlayStation 3 launched in Japan back in 2006, one of the available games was that of Gundam Target in Sight. Put simply, it was pretty awful. It ran at a hugely inconsistent framerate and was deeply unbalanced in the initial part of the game’s learning curve, often pitting you in sub-standard hardware against well armoured foes that could kill you with one shot. Couple that with the framerate and you rarely saw the shot that actually killed you. Unsurprisingly the game was wholly panned upon release and didn’t exactly do the PlayStation 3 many favours, as it was a platform exclusive.

Now fast forward to the recent Japanese release of the PlayStation 3 Slim and again another exclusive Gundam game has been bundled with it; that of Gundam Senki. However, despite using Target in Sight’s engine as a base it’s a completely new game and much like the PlayStation 2’s Lost War Chronicles (which we’ve also reviewed) this title has a lot more going for it than many may appreciate or initially realise.

It’s probably worth covering at this point the narrative background the new Gundam Senki is placed within, as instead of having it set during the One Year War of the Universal Century timeline it’s actually fulfilling an actual aspect of the wider narrative. The game’s subtitle should give it away somewhat, as the plot is centered around the events during UC 0081. This is an interesting date as it places the game squarely between the prior events of the One Year War (UC 0079 – 0080) and the later aspects seen in Stardust Memory (UC 0083). As a consequence, the story is a fully fleshed out part of the Gundam canon and the production values in the game are equatable to a modern anime OVA. You have beautifully animated cutscenes and even more impressive is the usage of anime cutaways, a Gundam staple, used in-game. This means the game feels very much grounded in the UC timeline Gundam mythos in a way that few games ever have. There’s even a dedicated one shot OVA that frames the back story for the characters in the game, which is available via the PSN store with a download code you get with the game.

Separately and quite interestingly is how Gundam Senki utilises parts of the M-MSV (or MS Collection) back catalogue of mobile suits. Notably that of the RX-81 and RX-78-7. Up and till this point, these were merely designs penned from the mind of Kunio Okawara. Now they fulfill a tangible narrative purpose as they cleverly preface the technology utilised after UC 0081. The designs have also been subtly updated by mecha magnate Hajime Katoki and the final results look positively beefy.

Despite the very well thought out and executed narrative, the game itself is actually surprisingly good. I say surprising, as the engine it’s based upon was pretty dire the first time around. That said, it’s clear now that Target in Sight was barely half way through its development when it was released and Gundam Senki is clearly using a very polished and thoroughly optimised game engine. As such the engine runs at a consistently high framerate and with far more effects than it previously did. The only downside is that the draw distance can be a little short at times, as bits of the environment will fog out and certain shaders produce a strange pixellation effect when seen up close. Bar those aspects, visually and functionally the game is already in a far better state than its predecessor.

The main bulk of the game is based around piloting a variety of mobile suits from a third person viewpoint in a selection of missions. Combat is mixed between ranged and melee and you also have two wingmen along that you can issue commands to. The latter is especially important the more you progress through the game but more of this latter. Prior to each mission you have a garage section that allows you to select your mobile suit, its armament, optional parts and finally attend to the pilots themselves. In the garage you can also assign different wingmen commands from a suitably large menu, tailoring this on a per mission basis can make a huge difference and choosing wisely (as you only have eight slots to use in-game).

Despite all this, the garage section is very much streamlined compared to the unnecessarily complex nonsense that was in Target in Sight. The optional parts are very simple and straightforward in their effects and don’t need a stupid amount of micro management. You literally pick your mecha of choice and then proceed to blow up anything daft enough to get in your way. That said, the more you progress through the game the more attention you apply to the number of ammo magazines you pack can make a very important difference.

This is down to the fact that a default suit only has one extra magazine. This means you’re often having to re-supply your ammo and often the tactical element of placing yourself near enough a supply point so you can do this becomes overly apparent. It also forces you to engage in melee a lot more than you would otherwise, as that’s all you have against a team of five Zakus once your machine gun makes that fateful clickety click sound.

This is where you wingmen come in, as stemming the enemy tide whilst you re-supply is something your wingmen (once sufficiently powered up) are very well suited for. In addition, when the difficulty curve apparently spikes (in that you face a veritable army of mobile suits) it’s worth remembering your wingmen aren’t just there for show. Applying as much care to them in the pre-mission setup will pay great dividends in the later parts of the campaign.

Missions are varied enough as well, not only in terms of the environments themselves but also the objectives within them. There is a modicum of texture tiling but the geometrical layout of the levels themselves makes up for that. In the final section of the game you also end up on the Moon and the game changes gear somewhat as the reduced gravity makes boosting around a lot easier.

Despite all this, the biggest and most impressive addition is the very thorough online option. With up to eight player online multiplayer. You can either play through a co-op type of campaign or go head to head in a number of versus options. That said, due to the location of the servers and that the vast majority of the people you’re playing with are half way around the world, getting into games can take a while. However, if you set up your own games this issue of online geography is mostly negated.

Overall, the new Gundam Senki, like its PlayStation 2 namesake before it, is a very solid and enjoyable ground pounder of a mecha game and unlike Target in Sight it’s a game the PlayStation 3 should be proud to have in its library.

Tamashii: 8/10

Final Level Video


Comments (24)

Great review!
Except for one, tiny, mind numbing thing.

Clips are those old, exposed ammunition, strips.
Think back to the m1 garand.

The word you’re looking for is magazine. nothing in gundam uses a “clip”.

Done, thanks for the heads up.


Thanks for review . can you tell me how to
lock on ?

Press the Circle button when in range to lock-on to an enemy.

Thanks I really love this game especially RX-81 series
and I like your reviews I wish you make some
a topic about why robot games has declined
or lack of revaluation in terms game design

I only speak and understand English. Will it still be possible for me to progress through the game, without facing too much of a language barrier?

Functionally, you shouldn’t have any problems. Plus, there’s a FAQ for the game now too:

Except for understanding the story where else will I face a problem? Thanks for replying to my Precious message.

Nowhere really as the FAQ I linked to covers everything anyway.

Will this be coming to the US? If not…will i be able to import it and get the benefits from the PSN Store on my US PS3?

There’s no word on whether this game will get a US release, so I can’t say. As for the DLC, as long as you have a Japanese PSN account and a valid credit card you’ll be able to access the DLC fine (you can create a Japanese account on a US PS3 btw).

Also, the extra mission DLC is all free, you only have to pay money for the suits.

I am in Australia, I play the game last year, it is very good, because the support of phyx, u really can feel force, when u got hit or hitting the target,

unlike armored core, shit game, without clear guid line, plot and missions seems rediculous, and it lagging in the ps3 version.

the only downside of the gundam senki, it only got jap version, not english sub, and most players are in the jap region, so it is hard to have online player to play with me.

hope in the future version of their game, can have an option with english menu, and english sub,
i originally prefer the orgin jap audio,

it is a great game, in the hard mode it is really really hard.
zeon side of story is harder in compare with the earth

This Gundam Senki 0081 was really amazing for celebrating 30th anniversary as the best action-shooting Gundam game.

For foreign people who have any problems on playing this game. Please try to visit my YouTube account, MichikoZaku. I make gameplay videos or walkthroughs of this game including English translation.

I welcome to help everyone who has this awesome Gundam game. Please feel free to ask. 🙂

Playing for enjoying, sharing for fun.

So, I know this is pretty darn old by now, but if anyone sees this….well, my favorite Gundam game was Federation Vs. Zeon on the PS2. Is this the game I should get for PS3 if that is the kind of Gundam game I want? I’ve seen Breaker And Gundam VS, but neither of those seem much like Federation vs. Zeon.

Can’t you tell by the gameplay? This, Gundam UC, and the Gundam Battle series are all less clunky versions of what your looking for.

You’re after the latest console version of Gundam Extreme Versus then –

Are you sure? The Gundam Vs series was pretty much a standard action game till GvG.

More a standard arena battler and still is, mostly.

I dunno. That strikes me as more of some kind of mashup fighting game, more than a story based dual sided single player campaign game, like Federation vs. Zeon was. Was why I am thinking that Senki 0081 looks to be the closest to what I’m looking for.

You may also like Gundam Side Stories.

Gundam Extreme Versus has the same story mode btw, the original Federation vs Zeon was a multiplayer game though really.

Yeah, I know this is old as crap but… the AI wingmen suck bawz. I can take the RX-78-2 through 99% of the missions on HELL mode alone. I won’t even talk about how bad Alex owns. And that’s with MS-specific weapons.

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