by Rob Chase,

Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam

PS2 / Bandai

Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam (PS2)
Seven years after the end of the devastating One Year War... The victorious Earth Federation has become corrupt and oppressive, and the elite Titans police force has taken on dictatorial powers. As the A.E.U.G. rebel group struggles to defeat the Titans, the heroes and villains of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series find themselves on the same side of this new conflict. The focus, however, is on a new hero named Kamille Bidan, the pilot of the transforming Zeta Gundam.
Some women say all men want is sex. Well, that's not quite true. If, as an alternative, we could do battle in a giant, sleek looking robot with an oversized ray gun or energy sword, we would give it a lot of consideration. There's something to be said for a simple game where you can sit back and blow up a bunch of big, armored, humanity destroying machines. But, whatever that something is really depends on what you're looking to get out of this game. It probably won't be filling up your weekends, and if it does, call me. You obviously just need a friend.

Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam plays like a standard third person shooter, staged in an oversized arena. If you're just looking for some big robots to blow up, you could easily lose track of the hours as you toy with the game's plug 'n' play characteristics. Right out of the box, you're able to choose from a set of forty some brand-spanking-new destruction-ready machines. I would almost consider the game worth playing just for the arcade mode. There are still some unlockable specials if you choose to play through the story, but for the most part, everything is good to go from the beginning. This means regardless of whether or not you play the disappointing afterthought of a story mode, you'll still have plenty to amuse yourself with. And that's really a good thing.

The word “Gundam” has become synonymous with reluctant pilots fighting a politically confusing war. GvZG continues this legacy pretty well, and for the first ten minutes of playing through the “Universal Century” (story) mode, the tale gets to be pretty involved. Three factions are in a mad struggle for inter planetary power: the A.E.U.G, Zeon Titans, and the Axis. It seems most practical to play through the three in that order to get the most out of the story. If you choose to do so, your first missions will involve Kamille Bidan, your typical pacifist Gundam warrior who is called upon to become a beacon of hope for the A.E.U.G. As you play through his story line, you'll unlock other playable characters intertwined with Kamille's story. Eventually, you'll be able to play through about eight simultaneous storylines per faction.

Because the game focuses on basically the same story for every character, you'll be stuck playing the same mission eight, sometimes eleven or twelve times over. It gets old. While it's good that no two Gundams are the same, and every machine has a completely unique battle style, the missions still feel the same and eventually render themselves pointless. The characters you'll play as generally have little more than a one sentence profile describing their background, but even if you bothered to read them, it doesn't feel like a new perspective on the same event. It's a shame, because it almost merits an interesting storyline, but after playing it a good ten times over, it's hard to care much for it. So, like I said earlier, stick to the arcade mode. You can still play with all the game has to offer and not have to worry about a completion percentage.

If you got a chance to play Federation vs. Zeon back in 2002, you'll be pretty familiar with how the game plays and feels. The basic components to combat involve a main weapon, used by pressing square, and the signature Gundam laser sword for close combat, triangle. Of course, some don't have a sword and might throw Gundam grenades or just punch the other guy in the face for close combat. There isn't really much room for creativity combining the two, so if you get bored with the same programmed sequences for one machine, move on to another one. Each Gundam has something different to offer in battle, but it's basically the same controls across the board. The auto-targeting system comes standard for everyone and is really nifty, especially while fighting in zero G, submerged in 360 degrees of action in all directions: left, right, up, down etc. Just tap circle and you'll lock on to the closest enemy. Also, every Gundam can "fly" at will, but will fall back to solid ground once you release the boost button, or your boost power runs out. This type of simplicity may be a turn off for some, but I found it quite efficient since I could learn how to play the game in ten minutes flat and get right into the action. Because the game does have a number of multiplayer options, it should be fairly easy to convince friends and family to come fight robots with you for a couple of minutes. I was also pleased with the delightfully interactive environments. Someone over at Bandai was brainstorming, I could tell, and decided that in fact, it made sense for a simple steel-framed building to show some scars when an ungodly amount of damage-intended death rays blasted through it. While the presentation of this idea isn't always perfect, it's the thought that counts,and provides a plus in my book.

I didn't have high expectations for this game, but at times it pleasantly surprised me. It has simple gameplay, pretty well done (though generic) graphics and character voice acting that's rather standard, but I enjoyed it…for ten minutes at a time. There isn't much refreshingly original here so it's not really worth buying if you're not a fan. That doesn't mean that if you're not a fan you won't enjoy it, but you should probably stick to the ten minute rule. Have some fun flying around and blowing stuff up and then get back to your life. Check it out on the rental shelves.
Production Info:
Overall : C
Story : B
Animation : B
Music : B

+ Simple controls and a lot of unique machines to choose from
Painfully repetitive story mode

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