Gundam Breaker - Review

Gundam, it's a name known across the world. Since it originally came out in 1979, the Gundam series has taken on many forms, and over the years has gained quite the fan base. Although the series stayed in Japan for quite some time -- when it was released in the US (thanks to Cartoon Network and Toonami) it's popularity in the west grew quickly. Before we knew it, we were getting Gundam shows, Gundam movies, Gundam toys, Gundam games, and so on. Of course we never reached the same popularity level as in Japan (which even has a life sized Gundam), but it did become a large part of our world -- and with good reason too. For anyone who doesn't know, the Gundam series is what set the standards for "real robot" fiction. While many shows were putting out what are known as "Super Robots," ones that are extremely powerful and couldn't exist in the real world, Gundam took things back and gave us something more realistic. Robots that have ammo limits, can break down from sand getting in the joints, and ones that pilots aren't even that safe in. They were nothing more than giant war machines that could be destroyed just like your everyday tank. Sure the series has always had sci-fi elements, such as space travel, but it handled everything else in a realistic way, and truly revolutionized the real robot genre. Although, this can't be said for every Gundam series.

Although there's a main timeline, Gundam is a series that spans many sub series. You have the main timeline which takes the more realistic approach (for the most part), but then you also have spin offs where you see things that are just flat out crazy. For example the newer Gundam 00 featured mechs which could not even be damaged by normal weapons, and they could simply fly through the air and lay waste to everything in their path. Series such as Gundam Wing also got crazy at times, but even with such "Super Robots," the series does avoid taking it too far. Even so, the series features a wide range of mechs, a wide range of weapon types, and it has been broken into many sub series -- one of which actually looks back on the other series as fiction, and is completely based on toys. This is the world Gundam Breaker is based off of.

In Gundam Build Fighters, people build gunpla models which are basically Gundam building kits. They buy parts, put their models together, and then bring them to life as they fight in a virtual battlefield. The series features mix and matches of Gundams found across the entire series, and follows the story of a young boy striving to become the best builder out there. He builds his gunpla, his friend pilots them, and together they shoot to be the best in the world tournament. It's a unique entry in the Gundam series (although it was touched on once before), and like other Gundam series before it, it was only a matter of time before it was turned into a game.

Gundam Breaker isn't actually a Build Fighter game, but it does follow the series in a way. Rather than putting you in the shoes of the main character, you are your own person building your own gunpla to wage war against others. It's a game where long time fans get to live out their dreams and pilot their favorite mechs, as well as make their own by mixing and matching parts. Of course this game was never released outside of Japan, but don't let that stop you from playing it. Gundam Breaker is a game worth playing if you're a fan, and you are about to find out why.

The Story:

The Story in this game really isn't much as this is not actually a story based game. To put it simple, you are a Gundam fan, and you decide to build gunpla and fight with them -- that's basically it. The game's story is what you make of it, where you play the role of yourself, and do whatever it is you want to do. You're living in a world where gunpla fight each other in a virtual world, and as you progress through the "story" new locations from Gundam's history unlock, and a wide range of enemies appear to stand in your way. In short, this is not a game you play for the story, because there really isn't one here.

The Gameplay:

Gundam Breaker is a game that is completely focused on it's gameplay. It has crazy fast paced action, very deep customization (with millions of possible combos), a large focus on co-op (although it can be played solo), and loads of fan service. It's a game made for Gundam fans, but it's also a game anyone can enjoy -- even if they have little to no knowledge of the series.

The main gameplay of Gundam Breaker comes from you customizing your gunpla, and sending it out into battle. Like many games of this nature, before you enter a stage you'll find yourself walking around a hub area which is where you'll be able to customize your gunpla, select missions, and even invite friends to play with you in co-op and chat with them. Of course when you first begin the game you are limited on customization options, but the more you play the more becomes unlocked for you. Once you're ready to go into battle, a mission can be selected from the terminal in the center of the stage, and you can go over to your gunpla to "ready up" to start. If you're playing alone you'll instantly be sent into the mission, but with co-op players you'll have to wait for everyone before it starts.

Missions in Gundam Breaker are similar to what you might expect from a hack and slash game. At the start of the level you'll appear at a spawn point, and you'll be given some sort of mission objective. Sometimes you'll be asked to clear all of the enemies out in the area, other times you'll be asked to destroy specific targets, and for some missions you'll even be asked to either guard a specific point, or capture other points. These type of missions are team based, but as mentioned before they can be completed solo. As for the gameplay itself, well, it's what you make of it.

When you first start your gunpla will have very basic actions. You can walk, you can jump, you can boost forward, you can attack with a long range weapon, you can attack with a melee weapon, and you can bring up your shield (assuming you have one). With your melee weapon you have both fast and heavy attacks, and alternating between the square and triangle buttons will pull off different combos, and even your long range weapon tends to have an alternate firing mode. These combo attacks, and long range attacks are the basic actions you'll have to start out with, but your actual fighting style, and what you'll be fighting with will be up to you.

Although you start out with a basic beam rifle, and a basic beam sword, you can replace them. You can remove your gun if you want to, you can remove your melee weapon, you can remove your shield, and you can replace them with alternate forms of attacking. For example, rather than using a beam sword, you could use a Zaku's axe, or you could even use the 00 Raiser's dual physical swords. There's also whips, machine guns, rocket launchers, dual guns, shot guns, and just about whatever else you may want to use at your disposal. Basically, whatever your preferred fighting style is, Gundam Breaker has something for you.

On top of your weapon's standard attacks, there's also EX Actions which can be unlocked and upgraded as well. When you first start out you have three basic EX Actions to use, but as you use them and advance in the game, stronger versions unlock, and completely new EX Actions begin to appear as well. These actions can be many different things, and once again it's completely up to you to pick ones that suit your play style. Some of them are attacks, such as a rapid sword slash that sends blasts forward, but others are for support (such as the one that heals you and your teammates). Of course whatever the case is, EX Actions do have their limits, and can only be used every so often. Once an EX Action is used a cool down will start, and you'll have to wait a set amount of time before you can use them again.

Another attack option, or even support option, comes in the form of, well, "options." As strange as it may sound, the options tab is where you can equip items to your gunpla which do a wide verity of things. Some items are actually items to use (health up items is one example), but other items are actually attacks -- these actually are controlled by the parts your gunpla has equipped, but some can be bought in the store. For example, if you have arms with missile launchers mounted on them, then you can equip the missiles in your options menu and fire them at enemies in battle. If you have a back part which allows you to store an extra beam sword, then you'll be able to use some sort of extra special attack (one of which actually launches enemies into the air and allows you to jump for an air combo). Others, which aren't controlled by your parts, include items such as grenades that you can throw at enemies, and other types of explosives. The only down side is, such items do add weight to your gunpla, and there is a limit to how much you can hold -- all of which depends on how strong your gunpla's legs are, as well as other parts.

To get parts for your custom gunpla, and to customize your gunpla, you first need to get the data from fighting. As you destroy enemies, especially larger ones, you always have a chance that parts will drop from them. These parts are random from the most part, and their strength depends on their quality, and on your building level. Early on you'll be getting a lot of basic Zaku and GM parts (the basic mass produced Gundam), but typically each stage also has at least one special boss unit. These boss units can range in size, some of them being giants, and tend to be one of the key mobile suits found throughout the Gundam series. One early example of such a suit is the Strike Freedom Gundam which appears in the casino stage, but killing one of these doesn't always mean you'll be getting enough of its parts to build it -- or even any good parts for that matter. Once you do get parts though, doesn't matter if they are random or from a boss, you'll be ready to actually build them and customize your gunpla.

Before you can use your parts, you need to build them. At first your skills as a builder will be a low level, but as you build parts your skills will increase, and you'll be able to turn your parts into much higher quality ones. In other words, even if you get five or so of the same part drop, that doesn't mean when you actually build it they will all turn out the same. Stats will be different most of the time, and as you build the other parts and level up, the later ones will most likely be stronger. Due to this it's always worth building all of the parts you receive, and even parts dropped in earlier levels may end up being worth something.

As for the customization itself, it is very deep -- as I've already mentioned. You can change your gunpla's head, body, arms, legs, back, shield, melee weapon, ranged weapon, EX Actions, options (items), and even equip special modules which alter its stats. There's really no limit to what you can or cannot equip to your gunpla, as in you can mix and match all you want, but you do have to pay attention to the weight limit. If parts are too heavy for your gunpla's legs or body to support, you won't be able to use them. This means you can't go all out with heavy weapons making an overpowered gunpla, but instead you have to really consider what it is you want to do and sacrifice some things for others. Want to use that awesome looking shield with a ton of defense? Well, you may have to remove that cool gun if you want to hold it. It makes you think and plan out your gunpla, and it keeps you from just randomly throwing stuff together. Other than that though, you can mix it up as much as you want. 00 Raiser head, crazy Zaku arms, Strike Freedom back, Zeta Gundam body, and God Gundam legs -- if you want to do it, you can.

Besides the parts themselves, each gunpla can also be painted and have other visual effects added to them. Each part has four colors that can be changed, and each part has it's own set of effect sliders as well. These effects do things such as making your gunpla shiny, or even adding battle scars and dirt. While it may not seem like much, it helps you make your gunpla look how you want it to, and mixed with the color options you can make one that looks truly unique -- which you can then save. Once you've given it a proper name that is.

The Good and the Bad:

Gundam Breaker is a great Gundam game. With it's wide verity of parts, and color options, it is a game that allows you to make your dream gunpla, and take it into battle. The game itself is very fast paced, it has a single player mode which can be played through alone or with friends, and it has a wide verity of mission types to help keep things from getting stale. It's really a great game, but it also isn't a game for everyone.

Although the game has a wide verity of customization options, it is still a hack and slash at it's core, and some people may get bored with it because of that. The game itself does start out a bit slow, you're limited on the areas you can go to at first, and you only have so many attacks to use and weapons unlocked, but as you continue on it does open up. You're given a lot to help keep the game from getting old, but if you're the type of person who dislikes hack and slashes, you may not find this one to be too much different. You'll kill hundreds of enemies, fight bosses, pick up new parts and use them to change your gunpla, and then head back out and do the very same thing -- it's just this time you may have new combos to use. This isn't a bad thing at all, the game becomes insanely addicting, but again it's not for everyone.

The only real downside to Gundam Breaker is the fact that it has a slow start, and that some of the controls can take a bit to get used to. Dashing and jumping are tied to the same button, and whichever you do depends on how long the button is held down; however, both do use your boost, so you can't just jump or boost forever before being stopped. While this isn't much of an issue itself, the lack of control over your jump and boost once you pull them off can be a bit annoying, and it does take a bit to get used to. The good news is that the sequel allows you to turn while boosting, but sadly in the first one that is not the case. Also the game does suffer from a lack of areas. While each area in the game does have multiple sections to them, you'll be revisiting the same places time and time again. It's not a big issue either, but it would have been nice to see some more maps -- or at least not have it so a few missions in a row send you to the same place.

Other than these small issues, Gundam Breaker is a top notch Gundam game. It's a shame that it was never released in the West, but the good news is that the menus are in English, and it is easy to go through the game without knowing any Japanese. It's a fun game that's import friendly, and it easily deserves a 9/10. Not quite perfect, but great aside from a few smaller issues. If you're a Gundam fan, get this game. (It also has an amazing opening theme by Back-On! That's always a plus!)

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