The popular Gundam Extreme Vs game is now heading to PlayStation’s handheld device, but can it stand on its own as a great Gundam game?
Gundam, a well-known part of Japanese culture gets yet another game adaptation as expected. Fighting with giant robots to decide the fate of the world is an idea many would think would be fun and Gundam is one of the best at it. This time with a bit of a twist. A game series known for arcade style play, the latest addition named Gundam Extreme Versus Force (aka: Gundam EXVS Force) gets a much stronger focus on a single player with its release on the PlayStation Vita. While I would very much welcome the idea, I have to say that it is a weak entry in the series. To reach a better understanding of this, read on.
Production (2.5 / 5)
- Graphics run smoothly
- Features original OST and VA voice-overs
- Lots of simplified textures and animations, not particularly impressive
- PSV Screen looks cluttered with traditional layout with lots of new items
I guess the best I can say about the graphics is that it’s acceptable, it basically makes use of many assets already present from previous releases of the series, so I don’t know if I can say it’s really something to the title’s credit.
There’s also some obvious pain points with the porting of the game to the PSV system. Textures and animations seem simplified and fails to impress on a smaller screen compared its home console counterparts. The visual layout of information on the game feels poorly planned with important information scattered around the screen and name tags flooding the center of the action. While the audio of the game is great as it’s directly from the animes the game features, this was already done in its previous versions. If there’s anything that I would credit this game for, it would be its smooth frame rate while being a port.
Mechanics (3 / 5)
- Controls are very much like from its EXVS predecessors.
- Makes use of the successful formula from previous games
- Adds the new ‘command mode’ that is very much like the BLiTZ system from Valkyria Chronicles
- Grind is highly repetitive, artificially adds value to the game
The game picks up from the generations of development that the title had picked up since Gundam Federation Vs Zeon, so it brings us a lot of the original action that we all enjoyed with the improvements that the series has created through the years, then it backpedals. Yes, it does take the control scheme from its predecessors but makes a simplified version of it for the PS Vita, you get to pick from 3 control schemes instead of being able to customize them, two of which can’t fully function when you patch the game. I found this astounding and extremely frustrating since I didn’t like the default button configuration. This design decision has also caused specific functions for certain Mobile Suits to be changed, some remapped, some situational, others removed completely.
An interesting part of this game is the addition of the Command Mode, where you manage up to 2 squads and a command ship over the map, this means there can be a 6 on 6 battle on the map plus two warships. A system that feels quite inspired by Valkyria Chronicles’ ‘BLiTZ System,’ you can even buff and repair allies as well as launch unique attacks from this mode. This plays into how missions will require you to take control of base points over the map that will spawn minions for you and help you in dominating the map, making it easier to achieve the mission objective. If that last part sounded like a generic MOBA description to you, that’s exactly how it plays out. In fact ‘Force’ type missions drop the use of resource bars and replaced by respawn times, instead.
There’s also two ways of developing your game, one is by unlocking missions and increasing your ‘costs limit’ with Haro Medals. The other is by levelling up your mobile suits, giving them a stat upgrade for every level they get. However, doing either simply leads you to repeating the same missions several times. You gain Haro Medals by getting achievements in a mission like not dying or getting hit, or using a specific mobile suit or using only a certain type of attack, while the maximum experience you get per mission is the same. I find this a very artificial way of increasing the lifespan of the game. Finally, your unit’s base HP decreases for every mission you complete, which can be repaired. But I don’t see why you’d want to reward and punish grinding at the same time.
Content (2 / 5)
- Features a lot of extra MS aside from featured ones in the campaign
- Features a healthy variation of maps
- Plays through several UC scenarios (again)
- Missions are generally copy-paste scenarios with different names
- Game attempts to ease the players into the system.
As expected of every version of this series, Gundam Extreme Versus Force features quite a roster of Mobile Suits, featuring a total of about 68 units in all. Each one with unique stats, set of upgrades and move sets. While you may find your favorites in matter of a few hours, it’s rather appealing that you get to fight as and against almost every unit available one way or the other in the game. Or at the very least, it’s possible.
Maps are also quite healthy in terms of variety, even if some maps are simply cropped versions of the larger ones. Each one is used in a way that fits the mission featuring it, so at the very least you can tell some thought was put into how they were being used.
Gundam EXVS Force makes use of an excuse of a plot to let the player, yet again, play through the popular, overused episodes of the Universal Century. It features side missions that allows you to play and acquire the opposing side as well as units from alternate universes within Gundam. Difficulty tends to jump from easy to ridiculous without any real pacing, and there’s no difficulty setting to help you in case you find something a little too much to handle. I honestly find it difficult to call this a campaign as the game is more like featuring key points in a story than actually allowing you to play through one. There’s no real investment for you in the story as you play a role of an AI that’s basically skimming through history notes.
To be fair, it attempts to guide the player through new features of this spin-off and still teach the traditional stuff of the game. Hinting that this isn’t just for veteran players but for people interested on getting started. Which again, makes me wonder: “Why put together a campaign that only seasoned fans would appreciate?”
Features (1 / 5)
- Features AdHoc multiplayer versus, no coop
- Makes use of your grinded characters, takes out the arcade feel of the game
- Lacks a free battle mode for you to figure out how to play the varied types of MS
While it meets the expectation that AdHoc multiplayer is available, it only makes PVP possible with the units you have attained through your campaign. Some features like coop or an arcade style versus, which you would expect to be there, are not present which leaves me less reason to actually want to play this with others.
Overall (2 / 5)
- Game system feels good like its previous games
- Content feels uninspired as its just running through UC events
- Should feature a game mode that really makes use of the game’s better content
- Game is meant for avid fans of Gundam and fails in introducing it to new people
- Patch was introduced in the Japanese version which will solve many issues of the game
In the end the system feels good to play despite some shortcomings in terms of UI and controls. The new features, while they do feel simply tacked on, do make battles more interesting and are somewhat refreshing. They do add a new dimension to the game, and would be excellent if it was further refined. It plays well for the campaign it had planned but it was simply too short. There’s no way you can appreciate everything the game has to offer when there’s not much room to play with. As if it’s trying to do something new but isn’t quite sure if it’s doing it right.
This is probably where root of the game’s issues lie. So much of the content created from EXVS predecessors are designed mainly for arcade and multiplayer play, yet Gundam EXVS Force attempts to make it single-player focused. While it did build mechanics that meant to enhance a single player experience, the game rushes through everything in an attempt to pack as much content as it can in a set of about 10 missions (including side missions) per major arc. Perhaps had this been presented in a different way, like focusing on character arcs or alternative timelines, rather than just a set of events where you play each side, it would have been a more meaningful experience for the player.
While the Gundam EXVS Force has a great roster, there’s no avenue to really have them featured. With the way the game is setup, you can add as many Mobile Suits as you want but it doesn’t change the game, it fails to hit points that would make the game better. Perhaps adding something like a free battle mode, a challenge or survival mode would allow the title to play better to its strengths.
At the time of this writing, it is known that a patch came for the Japanese version of this game which answers the bigger issues I had while playing it like adding a Free Battle Mode. Offering much better value for its money. I’ve updated the game to 1.01 and have yet to see this, hopefully the English version doesn’t lag behind for too long.
Game Rating: 2.1 / 5
Gundam Extreme Versus Force is available on the PlayStation Vita through retail as well as PSN.
Review by: Allen “Lentropy” Silva