This solid battler fails to push the bot out
At first glance, this looks like the ultimate piece of wish fulfilment. Blasting around an arena in a highpowered mechanical monstrosity, pulling off outrageous special moves until your foes explode into flaming balls of death while your anime pilot chuckles – it’s an exhilarating power fantasy. Initially, though, unless you’re particularly au fait with previous Gundam titles, you’re more likely to find yourself cast as the exploding mech than the slick hero. While first impressions might suggest a lighthearted, cartoon-inspired hack-and-slasher, real discipline is required here, and button mashing will see your mech turned to junk in all but the easiest modes. The standard movement speed of all the robotic mobile suits (known in-game as MS) is sluggish and leaves you no time to avoid incoming attacks, forcing you to traverse each map using boosts and dodges to remain even remotely safe. However, it becomes quickly apparent that this drains your power meter, so you learn to land your MS regularly to recharge.
A savvy opponent will work out the rhythms of your movement and time projectile attacks to hit as you land, so it becomes important to vary movements, blending jumps, dodges, and landings in unpredictable ways. And so it goes on: every time an opponent kicks your robotic derriere, they simultaneously teach you a new flaw in your strategy, though as time goes on it becomes less about techniques or thumb dexterity and more about the psychological metagame. This is most evident in matches against a single human opponent – in more frenetic modes, skill is sometimes trumped by sheer luck.
In those 1v1 matches it’s not dissimilar to a fighting game like Street Fighter, though there’s no need to memorise character-specific moves or combos, which is lucky because the MS roster is ludicrously large, drawing from an extensive back catalogue of anime. Each suit is customisable, too. Adding a strategic layer, each MS has a numeric rating. The higherrated machines boast more firepower, but put a larger dent in the team’s collective health bar when they’re destroyed.
The number of modes is limited – the offline options are stage- and wave-based battles against the CPU, while online you have a choice of casual or ranked 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 matches. While there’s longevity in developing your competency online, plus a decent smattering of unlockables, it does feel barebones. It’s also technically not brilliant, with lag a frequent annoyance online, and framerate drops in the busier offline moments. None of this ruins the experience, but the significant time investment needed to get the most out of Gundam Versus might be better spent elsewhere.
“BLASTING AROUND IN A MECHANICAL MONSTROSITY IS A GIDDY POWER FANTASY.”
For fans of the franchise, or anyone with an urge to battle robots, there’s much to love here, but its technical flaws and stingy mode options may disappoint others. Alex Jones
Bland visuals don’t stop the music from being highly catchy. Shame you can’t hear it in print.
FORMAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB BANDAI NAMCO DEV BANDAI NAMCO