TGS 06: Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire Updated Impressions

Namco Bandai shows off a more polished version of its upcoming PlayStation 3 game.

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We last saw Namco Bandai's Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this year, where we got a taste of what to expect from the upcoming game featuring the popular mechs. The ensuing months have found the game gaining a new name and a new layer of polish. We recently had the chance to try out an updated version, which served as a teaser for its upcoming showing at the Tokyo Game Show.

Crossfire will offer the basic structure fans of the series have come to expect from the army of Gundam games that have hit over the years. You'll play as a member of the Federation or the Zeon and embark on one of two focused storylines. If you play as a Federation soldier, you'll be tasked with engaging the Zeon, and vice versa. Though there were only four levels on display in the version of the game we tried, they gave us a sense of how Crossfire's missions will unfold. Namco Bandai reps noted that for the purposes of the event demo the development team included straightforward pick-up-and-play missions that focused on dealing with a basic set of enemies. However, the final game will have a more diverse array of missions for each storyline to test your skills.

Rest assured, Gundam is coming to the PlayStation 3
Rest assured, Gundam is coming to the PlayStation 3

As we noted in our previous look at the game, Crossfire will drop you into the cockpit of the massive war machines that are central to the franchise. The control has been improved since E3 and is on its way toward striking a balance between conveying the massive weight of the machines and offering good gameplay. Movement still has a lumbering feel to it, though you'll be able to zip around with your suit's jets when you have places to go in a hurry. You'll have two sets of ranged weapons and, when you need to get up close and personal, a trusty energy blade. You'll be able to perform simple three-hit combos with the powerful weapon, which is great for taking out an enemy quickly.

Two cool technical features enhanced the gameplay. The first is a location-specific damage system, which lets you systematically take out individual sections of enemy suits. This goes both ways, though, so you'll have to be careful you don't experience the tragedy of having your arms disabled during combat. If such a thing happens, you'll have limited options to continue the fight--if your arms get taken out, you'll have to kick your way to victory. The second feature, a sniper mode, complements the location-specific damage by letting you concentrate your fire on specific parts of your foe. The handling wasn't as tight as we wanted, but since the game is still in development, the handling should continue to be tweaked.

Location-specific damage will make sniping a joy.
Location-specific damage will make sniping a joy.

The visuals have been polished since E3, with the environment now featuring robust effects to show off displaced dust and the destructible elements in it. Your mobile suit is an attractive number with a well-stocked arsenal that efficiently demolishes anything you unleash it at. The massive battle machine has a nice "lived in" look that gives it the appearance of having been around the block a few times. There were some nice touches in the demo version, such as a pleasing array of things to blow up. In addition, a sampling of enemy units ably served in their role to be demolished horribly. One of the cool features is the sniper mode and the quick transition to it. We noticed that the frame rate is sluggish in spots, but it continues to improve, which is a good sign.

Based on what we played, Crossfire appears to be packing a good deal of promise, and the game's representation of the mobile suits is well done. Look for more on Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire in the coming weeks as its release date for the PlayStation 3 nears.

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