Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is very obviously a game made for the cross-section of the gaming population that enjoys Gundam anime and Dynasty Warriors games. You’ll take your chosen character from one end of the board to the other, claiming squares along the way. Arrive at an unclaimed square and units loyal to your cause will pour out of it. Arrive at a square claimed by the opposition, however, and you’ll need to clear the area of enemies before claiming it as your own.
The Dynasty Warriors side of the equation is well-implemented here. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Gundam side. Gundam 3 is beautiful to look at, and cel shading is used to great effect here making the action look like it something to be watched instead of something to be played. However, the cast and timeline are all over the map, and only the most hardcore of Gundam fans will really understand what is going on. Between 52 playable characters, skipping back and forth through time to various campaigns and protagonists, the whole thing devolves into “kill the blue team because they are bad,” and that’s a shame. There are great stories to be told here, but Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is too ambitious. Instead of trying to tell every story in the universe, zooming in and really concentrating on one conflict (or chronological set of conflicts) and introducing and fleshing out characters along the way would make for a much more coherent experience.
Where the Gundam license really shines is in mecha customization. In other DW games there isn’t a huge focus on loot, as characters are often defined by their weapon. Here though, you play the pilot, and the mecha can (and should) be customized to suit your play style and preferences. Defeating enemy generals yields new equipment and mecha schematics, and each mecha has upgrade slots allowing you to increase melee damage or missile damage or block percentage. The combinations seem endless, and if you like avatar customization then you’ll be grinning from ear to ear here. Sadly, you can’t take your customized mecha online. There are a set of pre-set missions for up to four players available, and while you can take your pilot online he can only fly off-the-shelf mecha. This really cuts down on the appeal of the online as most of the fun, for me, lies in creating the perfect instrument. Deny me the ability to use that instrument online and I won’t be playing online very often.
Like all other Dynasty Warriors games, Gundam 3 suffers in the long-term as nothing new is really introduced in the late game. You find yourself absolutely stomping the AI once you’ve mastered the combat, and once the challenge is gone, so is the drive to continue. Still, it is fun to customize your mecha, and the levels are short enough that the game can be enjoyed for 30 minutes at a time while still making progress.
Pros: both wide and deep customization options, visuals feels like you’re controlling an anime
Cons: impossible to follow the narrative, can’t take custom creations online