Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam Preview

We rewrite Mobile Suit Gundam history as we check out a near-finished version of Bandai's upcoming action game.

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Scheduled for release at the end of this month, Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam is an action game in which you'll get to take the controls of and battle against around 50 different "mobile suits." We had an opportunity to check out some of the game's multiplayer options at E3 last month, and more recently we've been playing solo in its arcade and universal century modes.

You'll choose two mobile suits to play with--one for ground missions and one for space combat.

In Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam's arcade mode, which features multiple difficulty settings, you can choose to side with either the E.F.S.F.-A.E.U.G. or the ZEON-TITANS faction. You'll then get to choose two mobile suits from a roster of around 50--one for use on ground missions and one for use in space. The weapons and attributes for the mobile suits are quite varied, but unfortunately you're not given any indication on the selection screen as to which will be well suited to your style of play. Once you get them into battle, you'll find that most of the mobile suits boast two different ranged weapons in addition to an arsenal of powerful melee attacks. Some of the mobile suits in the game also have the ability to adopt vehicle-like forms that allow them to move more quickly.

Given that they're essentially giant walking (or hovering) tanks, mobile suits aren't particularly agile, which can make controlling their movement in Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam feel quite unresponsive at times. The game also doesn't let you rotate its third-person camera manually, but instead it lets you lock on to enemy targets with a single push of a button--even if the targets are behind you and haven't come into visual range yet. The auto-targeting system does help to keep the action fast-paced, but it also makes the combat in the game feel even more simplistic than it would otherwise. Once you're locked onto an enemy, the only thing you need to worry about other than going on the offensive is double-tapping your directional pad (or analog stick) to perform an evasive maneuver whenever you're attacked. When playing solo, you'll invariably be accompanied on your missions by another mobile suit that you can give basic instructions to on the fly, but we've rarely felt the need to do anything other than just leave them to do their own thing. Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam's arcade mode also supports split-screen cooperative or competitive play for two players.

The universal century mode's timeline always features a number of different missions for you to attempt next.

If you're playing Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam on your own, you'll inevitably end up spending most of your time in the game's universal century mode. After choosing to side with the A.E.U.G., the TITANS, or the AXIS forces, you'll be presented with a timeline that marks the dates of significant missions in Mobile Suit history and lets you take part in them. Every time you complete a mission, you'll unlock the next mission that your current character took part in, as well as missions for numerous other playable characters who become available as you progress through the game. The universal century mode essentially lets you rewrite history, and playing through the same missions from the cockpits of different mobile suits serves to highlight just how different many of them are. Individual missions generally take only a few minutes to play through, but there are literally hundreds of them here, and the numerous routes through the game that the multiple timelines afford you are sure to add some replay value.

Beating missions in both the arcade and universal century modes awards you battle points that you can use to purchase unlockable content. There are more than 400 pieces of additional content for you to purchase in total, including music tracks, illustrations, character profiles, and 3D models of just about everything in the game so that you can view them at your leisure. None of the models are detailed enough or textured well enough to warrant such close inspection, unfortunately, although some of their animations in-game are very good. Expect a full review of Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam as its release date closes in.

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