Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force is now available for Playstation Vita owners, thanks to Bandai Namco’s continued support for the system. Here’s our review.
You’d be forgiven if the Mobile Suit Gundam name doesn’t ring any bells, but it’s actually part of a huge franchise in Japan. Under the Gundam name, you’ll find loads and loads of mangas, (visual) novels and videogames. It just so happens that only a very select few of all those have come to North American and European markets. Because of this, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force only has a relatively small fan base of existing Gundam gamers to appeal to – and will have to impress others based on its own merits. The delayed European release does come with a major advantage though, because all the updates and DLCs that were previously separate are now included with the base game release.
For those unfamiliar with the Mobile Suit Gundam series, or those who only know them by name, the game can be described as a mix of mech-based combat (Mobile Suits are essentially Mechs) and an arena brawler. In that sense, it might be the closest thing we’ll ever get to having a Transformers game on the Vita – except for the transforming, of course. The game’s main mode is called the “extreme force” mode, which is a mission-based campaign with two types of missions to complete: Versus missions and Force missions.
In Versus missions, you (sometimes with a teammate) square off against other Mobile Suits inside a battle arena, and it’s your typical “last man standing” scenario where skillfully dashing and keeping the right distance between you and your opponents is often the key to success. It’s simple, recognizable, and turns rather repetitive after a while. The most interesting dynamic is balancing the cost of your robots/suits and your health bar, because stronger suits will also cost you more health when you’re taken down.
Force missions are much better in this regard, as mission objectives are far more diverse. Teams can consist of up to 8 Mobile Suits, and your objective can be anything from capturing a base to safeguarding your mothership – or destroying an enemy structure. There is some degree of team control where you can issue orders to your fellow Mobile Suits, but the AI isn’t that great and I usually kept them defending our base while I would go on solo attacks. You’re probably thinking that this is a situation that lends itself very well to multiplayer gaming, and to a degree you would be right. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force does support multiplayer, but not of the online variety – you can only team up with people using ad hoc mode. Perhaps performance was an issue here, but it’s a real shame.
When a force mission involves a lot of Suits battling it out, things can get hectic. A little too hectic, even. The scenes look a little cluttered on the Vita’s small screen, but perhaps this is just a design flaw since the camera doesn’t really cooperate either. The game does manage to keep things fresh by allowing you to unlock additional missions and more Mobile Suits though – and the inclusion of post-release DLC means there’s a lot content to discover here.
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force is an okay action game, but it doesn’t feel like it got the AAA-treatment that a popular franchise like this deserves. There are too many rough edges to recommend this to gamers who aren’t Gundam fans already, with better arena brawlers readily available on the Vita – and a few of them from Bandai Namco as well!