Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 Hands-On

Do enough damage to robots to match the gross domestic product of a medium-sized nation in the latest Dynasty Warriors title.

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If you've always been a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series but couldn't help feeling that ancient China could use some towering robots locked in fisticuffs, you were probably a fan of last year's spin-off, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Therefore you're probably equally excited about the upcoming sequel known appropriately as Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2. Indeed, the world of hulking robots is as hostile as ever, because there are still battles to be fought, feuds to be settled, and gameplay updates to be added. We've been battling our way through a preview build of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2--our first look at it since October's Tokyo Game Show--in order to get a better feel for what to expect out of these updates when the game arrives on March 24.

Attack, robots, attack!
Attack, robots, attack!

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 offers a pair of different campaigns. Official mode is the default choice, allowing you to take part in storylines from various incarnations of the Gundam anime series, while Mission mode allows you to play fast and loose with the Gundam universe by taking its characters and mixing them up in new and different ways. Official mode begins with an initial selection of characters that includes Amuro Ray, Kamille Bidan, Judau Ashta, and Char Aznable--a roster that allows you to play the same missions from different sides of the good-versus-evil fence.

Jumping into your first mission reveals a style of gameplay that should feel very familiar to those who've invested any amount of time in the Dynasty Warriors series. In essence, you control a character who parades around a battlefield mowing down dozens upon dozens of similar-looking enemies in rapid, rhythmic succession. Combat is broken down into normal attacks, ranged charge attacks, and SP attacks that you pull off after filling up your SP gauge. The latter can be performed on the ground or in midair and vary in power depending on which SP level you're at or if you're on the brink of death and thus able to let out a hyper SP attack.

At certain points during the battle, you'll need to break from mashing the normal attack button to rush over to enemy commanders who provide a temporary spike in challenge. You'll need to use your full repertoire of moves on them and will often find yourself engaging in a quick-time event that prompts a series of button inputs when the two of you become deadlocked in battle. Successfully completing these missions lets you upgrade your character's level, unlock new characters, and find new parts that you can bring to your friendly neighborhood Gundam mechanic in order to upgrade your mobile suit.

Yes, the action itself ought to feel quite familiar to Dynasty Warriors loyalists. So where should you look to find new content in this sequel? The answer lies primarily in the aforementioned Mission mode. Hardcore Gundam fans ought to squeal with glee at the way this mode will let you submerge yourself in the anime's ecosystem of characters and mobile suits. It begins with a roster selection of such diverse names as Heero Yuy, Milliardo Peacecraft, Seabrook Arno, and Üso Ewin. From there, it's essentially a career mode for your Gundam pilot. The main lobby lets you choose from a variety of missions, alter your suit in the Mobile Suit Lab, dive into your character's stats and bio in the Lounge, and exchange messages with other pilots in the Terminal.

Expect to see lots of enemies on screen.
Expect to see lots of enemies on screen.

Missions in this mode are broken down into story missions that let you advance your character's plot, but they also include collection missions designed to let you find new parts, friendship missions for increasing your relationship with other pilots, and license missions to help unlock new classes of mobile suits. But if you'd rather just cause some ruckus, there's also a free mission option. Between the mission choice, pilot interactions, and customization options, Gundam nuts should enjoy this part of the game quite a bit. However, if you're not a Gundam nut and you think the name Char Aznable sounds like an ancient form of Aztec rugby, there's probably not a whole lot for you in Mission mode.

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 is slated for release on March 24 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2. You can expect to see our review right around then.

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