Hands-on: DC Mobile Suit Gundam

The Milkman gets his hands on Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From the Ashes for the Dreamcast.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From the Ashes. Quite a mouthful of a title, for sure, but another chapter in Bandai's never-ending mech-opera. Originally started as a criminally expensive three-piece saga on the Sega Saturn, Bandai continues with a graphically overhauled version for the Dreamcast. Anyone familiar with the giant mecha series will know that in the game you assume the role of a Gundam pilot and take to war-ravaged Earth. The first-person shooter gives you a more authentic feel for the series than those super-deformed Super Robot War games ever did.

Upping the ante of the series, which originated on the Saturn, Rise From the Ashes adds a little Assault Suits Leynos to the mix. You command a series of Gundams from the get-go (sort of like in Rainbow Six) and instruct them on how to counteract the enemy. You can also customize your crew's weapons to some extent (hence the Assault Suit comparison). You view the battle through the eyes of the Gundam you pilot, and you use every button on the DC controller to achieve victory. While the controls take getting used to, they work very well once you get to know them. The Jump Pack also provides ample recoil for every shot squeezed off from your considerable arsenal.

The cinematic cutscenes are handled very well, and they add a theatrical slant to the game that wasn't really possible on the Saturn. Giant mechs accompany half-tracks and armored-personnel carriers, as well as little polygonal soldiers. The presentation is very well done here. The opening movie is also handled well and is worth watching repeatedly. The in-game graphics concentrate mainly on the mech-models, leaving the backgrounds fairly blah and not very detailed. This doesn't matter much, since Rise From the Ashes is more of a FPS/Strategy game than anything else. Simply put, the game is really fun. While not exactly Half-Life, this would make a great game to bring to the US library. If you like this sort of game, give Sega of America an earful. This title is already under consideration, and some fan support would likely push it over the top. Heck, if Seaman can make it to the US a pile of clanky robots should too!

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