Friday, March 18, 2016

Review #311: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS - Force

 Bandai Namco misses the mark.
 It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Gundam VS games, Extreme VS and Full Boost being among my favorite games of the past generation. Extreme VS has received two major revisions, Maxi Boost and Maxi Boost ON, but us console gamers have been left in the dust. We've waited years for the next console port, only to be greeted with... this.

 What is the Gundam Vs games known for? For the 2 on 2 fighting. Every console port of the series has included at least Arcade Mode and Offline VS(Player and CPU), ever since Federation VS Zeon on PS2, and most of the time, they also included lengthy Missions Modes for Console players. Extreme VS Force only has Mission Mode.  Oh, there's offline VS too... but not against CPUs, only other players via ad hoc. What the...? They made a mode that's always been an extra, that's been a diversion, the main course. The only course. And it's only 93 missions long. Extreme VS' mission mode had over 100, and I think Full Boost had almost 100. But they also included Offline VS CPU, Online VS and Arcade Modes with multiple routes. This is a problem.
 So, what's 'Force Mode' all about? It's a collection of missions with various goals. Usually you have to defeat every enemy, defeat the enemy ship or capture all bases before your ship is destroyed or the enemy captures all bases. Missions have different requirements, depending on the missions you'll be allowed to take up to five units with you, divided into four teams of twos, and sometimes, even a ship unit. The A.I, when engaging in fights, is decent, but they won't move unless you tell them to, which you do by tapping L. You can't tell'em to go after a unit, but you can pinpoint them to key spots on the map, and they'll fight anything that comes their way, which is a bit weird to say the least. Destroying enemy units will net you Force Points which can then be used in the Strategy Menu, which range from temporary damage buffs to healing. There's no real depth to the game, but it can be fun.

 It can be fun because the engine was not made for this type of game. For instance, the camera and the lock on target is terrible. This works in the 2 on 2 battles the engine was meant to run, but when there's up to six targets on the screen, locking on to your desired enemy can be a bit of a pain. Sure, you can use the right analog stick to direct the lock, but it's still not very efficient. While not locked onto a unit, you can rotate the camera with the right analog stick or press R+O to set it behind your back. R+O is also used to release the lock. It's a bit cumbersome, but it can be managed.
 Finishing missions grants your units experience points, which makes them stronger as they level up, and grant you GP. GP is used to unlock certain missions or to buy buffs before missions. They are also used to restore your machines. Y'see, the game wants you to play as the other units, so using the same machine more than once in a row will lower its max HP for the next mission. It's dumb, because it's counter-intuitive. You want to level up your units, so you have to use them, but if you use them too much they deteriorate. And why did they do it? Because this is the only way to play the game there is, and they don't want you to get bored by relying on the same units over and over again. Which would've been fixed by having a VS CPU mode, like every other game in the series, because even the word 'Versus' is on the title, but Namco just couldn't be arsed. So many times did I unlock a new unit and thought to myself 'Cool! Now let's try out on a fight!'... only to remind myself that I had to play one of the missions. To be faire, there's a few 2 on 2 fights among the missions, but it's always against the same units.

 And then there's the character roster. Vanilla Extreme VS had over 60 units. Full boost had over 90. Let's go even before that, Gundam VS Gundam on the PSP had over 60 units as well. Extreme VS Force only has 40. The other games also had more modes as well. And the saddest part is I could've done with the reduced character roster if only it had had offline VS CPU at least.
 On its own, Extreme VS Force is a decent game. On its own. But as part of the Gundam VS franchise, this is so underwhelming. So lackluster. It's not up to the series standards. All that said, the game is receiving a steady flow of free patches with Arcade, Offline VS and more units. But I don't have any of those yet, so I'm reviewing the game as is. Once there's more meat to it, I will come back to it and rereview it, because I love the series, but as of now, this is shameful towards the franchise..
 4.0 out of 10

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