Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review #106: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS - Full Boost

 "Kamille's a man's name, and I'm a man!"
  Finally, after two years of waiting, the sequel to one of my favorite games of the last generation arrived(And the sequel to this sequel got announced at the same time the PS3 port was announced, fun!). The sequel boasts tweaks to the 60+ returning cast, over 30 new mobile suits(20 if you bought the DLC from the previous game) for a total of 97(Not counting DLC), and a revamped system, but does it completely over shadow its prequel?

 Extreme VS is an Arcade Game through and through, there's no real story to it, but it doesn't need one, and it's the kind of game that you can just pick up and play, even though mastering its nuances, like properly managing your boost gauge to make the most out of your movement will take a while. The game boils down to a two on two arena fighting game, though that's selling it a bit short. There's a 6000 point gauge for each team, and you pick from 90+ units with different costs(1000, 2000, 2500 and 3000), where dying deducts from the 6000 point gauge, your objective? Drop your opponent's gauge to 0.
 You get four buttons: Boost(Used to jump or dash), Beam Rifle/Projectile, Beam Saber/Melee and change lock on. The change lock on button changes who your target is. The other three are pretty self explanatory, but certain mobile suits have up to three other sub weapon gauges(Sometimes there are more than one sub weapon for a single gauge) that are used by mixing either of the other three buttons, and sometimes they get different moves that need charging either the Projectile or Melee button. Most weapons have ammo counts that recharge either by swapping the weapons cartridge, through time or only start recharging after the ammo counts goes to 0. Boost also has its own Gauge, so you have to be mindful not to enter "overheat", which means breaking to a stop wherever you are, and having to wait about a second for the gauge to fully recharge. Resource management is the name of the game. There's a secondary Gauge, the Burst gauge, that increases as you take and deal damage, you can either pull a Half Burst, when the gauge is at 50%, or a Full Burst when it's at 100% that lasts longer and gives better bonuses(Plus, can be activated while taking damage), by pressing the three buttons at the same time. The previous game had  a single Burst Mode, but now you get to choose Assault Burst or Blast Burst, the former favoring rush-in units, while the latter helps units that prefer to fight at a distance.

 Arcade Mode got completely revamped, while it plays just like vanilla Extreme VS did, all routes are different now. There are five routes with 8 stages each, plus, alternate, harder unlockable EX stages. Arcade Mode can be played in Single Player or Multiplayer, both on-line and off-line. Off-line means split screen, which tends to have some framerate issues, not as bad as the previous game though! I also experienced a couple of instances of slowdown in Single Player, but these cases were very rare, and only when a lot of stuff was going on at the same time. Mission Mode also makes a return, but it's a shadow of its former self...
 In vanilla Extreme VS, Mission Mode gave you around 300 different missions to be played in Single Player. Out of the box, now you get 45 missions, but they've been unlocking some every now and then, and we are up to 65 at the moment. These missions tend to be much shorter than the ones before, and they tried to overcompensate the lack of missions by forcing you to play them on four different difficulty settings. Forcing? You see, in Mission Mode you can level up your mobile suit of choice, thing is, there is a level cap unless you unlock its figure, and these are unlocked by playing a certain mission at a certain difficulty(Luckily the game tells you what the price is for each difficulty setting). Another thing you have to unlock are the skills themselves, which are the stats that you can level up. So you'll be playing and replaying each missions for a while, not cool. A small, and probably worthless, bonus, is that using specific mobile suits on specific missions(If you are familiar with Gundam, you'll probably notice on your own which unit to use), which toggles special dialogue between your pilot and the enemy pilot!

 So yeah, the lack of missions is a problem, know what else is? On-line Pass. The developers gave some very lame excuses, but the thing is, in order to access any on-line mode, you need an on-line pass. Mission Mode has exclusive missions for On-line play, and know what's hilarious? You can play these with a CPU partner, but you still need to go on-line to do so, with an on-line pass. And you have to do these missions in order to unlock every upgradeable skill in Mission Mode! Very, very cheap. Another change for the worst, in the previous game you could earn upgrade points with any unit, and they went into a pool that could be spent on anyone. Now each unit earns points towards themselves, want to upgrade your partner's suit? Too bad, you have to play as it in order to earn points for it. Arcade mode? As good as before. Mission Mode? Terrible, when compared to the last game's. On-line Mode? Got better, a ton of new bells and whistles, and you can play every mode on-line now, but Off-line mode got the short end of the stick by a long shot.
 Visually, it's the same game as before, it's a very flashy and colorful game, even if some of the special effects could've been better. It's no graphical marvel, that's for sure, but it allows the game to maintain an steady pace, so I'd say it's worth it. Music... is a somewhat different selection from before, but it's overall pretty good, and no, the Premium G sound edition isn't worth it, it doesn't really add songs as much as replace the other ones. Plus, they are accessible from the disc, it's just a piece of paper with a code! As for the voice acting, every voice actor reprises their role from the anime series, pretty cool.

 As lacking as the Single Player offerings are, I'd say the game is still worth it over vanilla EX anyways. I loved playing with the newly rebalanced units, some even got new moves! The game mechanics also got a bit of an overhaul, the game does feel different. And I had fun playing with the new units, I have a new favorite! The game's focus was never Single Player Mode, not that it's an excuse for such a shallow Mission Mode when the last game's was so robust, but Mission Mode was never the go-to mode for this game and never will be.
 9.5 out of 10.

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