A lack of varied game modes and a repetitive combat system make Gundam Versus a mech-based fighter that runs out of fuel more quickly than it should.
Developer: Bandai Namco
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review
Few things are as exciting as giant mechs, especially when they’re flying around in space while shooting laser cannons at one another. This sort of high-flying action fits a flashy action game perfectly, which makes Gundam Versus feel all the more disappointing. While it’s packed full of passion for the Gundam franchise and its fans, Versus is an okay third-person action fighter that becomes dull far too quickly.
There’s no story mode in Gundam Versus as the game instead focuses on its Arcade (Trial) and Survival modes (which make up the vast majority of the game). Trial mode has you battle a set number of enemies in a row, while Survival mode has you fight waves of enemy Units and weaker grunts. Trial mode was the mode I preferred, as it can be played in shorter bursts and often lets you try out more than one character per session. There are often “extra” rounds in each Trial mode that let you try out other Units and even Boss units on occasion, which makes for a more varied playthrough. There’s the occasional branching path as well, so you can choose to face different types of enemies from different series. It isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s fun in bits here and there.
Survival mode has you fight waves of enemies, providing an intermission every few rounds so that you can spend points earned in battle on stat improvements and special gauge refills. I found that even the shortest Survival mode somewhat overstayed its welcome, as there was little to no variety in the enemies you face. I didn’t notice much of a difference when I increased my stats either, so Survival mode began to feel repetitive very quickly.
The main combat in Versus has you pilot one of countless Gundam units from throughout the years and different series that fans have come to know and love. Each mech has its own moveset and specialties, and I found them to be unique enough to warrant plenty of experimenting if you should want to. You’ll primarily run/fly your mech around a large open arena, sometimes with a partner, as you try to destroy the enemy units around you. You’ve got a few special attacks to go alongside the standard ranged shots and melee attacks, many of which are quite visually dynamic.
I actually rather liked the sort of resource management needed while playing the game, as it felt like quite an original idea. You have a set amount of missiles, jet fuel, and other commodities in each battle, though they recharge rather quickly. Since these resources are limited in a way that prevents you from spamming, you need to be smart with how you use your attacks. While it slows the game down a bit, I can appreciate the novelty behind the idea. The “Blaze” and “Lightning” modes appear as overdrive-like abilities that make your mech radiate while letting you do some particularly spectacular attacks. I found this to be quite a lot of fun, as it often led to the few times where the combat looked as action-packed and dynamic as the anime would. Otherwise, the pace of battles feels a bit stilted due to the clunky controls.
I found the controls to be somewhat overwhelming, as certain buttons did different things depending on your remaining ammunition/energy. This made it difficult to get a handle on things, as I would often fly around or stand in place awkwardly when pressing a button that typically fires off missiles and the like.
Visually, Gundam Versus is quite strong. The models and environments give off an animated feeling that suits the various styles from the source material, while the models mix this style with an impressive amount of detail. This sort of detail goes a long way when combined with the gorgeous mech designs that Gundam has specialized in for so many years. The addition of 2D pilot profiles in the style of their respective shows is a very nice touch as well, as it somehow evoked a sense of nostalgia from me despite my woeful lack of Gundam experience. Versus is clearly made with hardcore fans in mind, and I guarantee they’ll really appreciate the commitment to detail that’s present in the game.
The sound in Gundam Versus is just as exceptional as the visuals. Every laser blast and mech explosion is sharp and over-the-top, perfect for the arcade-y feeling that Versus has. The voice acting for all the different characters is great as well, as their melodramatic yelling and exclamations really sell the lovingly crafted anime aesthetic, especially when paired with the Gundam opening themes that often play throughout battles.
The Final Word
Bandai went the extra mile with the presentation in Gundam Versus, it’s just a shame that the game itself doesn’t stand out. Dull gameplay and a lack of interesting game modes makes Gundam Versus a buy for only the most hardcore of Gundam fans.
-MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average