It’s been a long, long time since I played a Gundam game. The last one I reviewed was Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire for the Playstation 3. I won't be able to compare it too directly to more recent games from the Gundam franchise, but let's go ahead and break down how I enjoyed my time with this most recent one!
Going into Gundam Versus I knew next to nothing about the game. There are so many Gundam games that it can often be hard to keep up with what’s coming next. Luckily, Gundam Versus is a straightforward experience. It can be summed up as an arena-based 1 v 1, 2 v 2, or 3 v 3 fighting game. Unlike a traditional fighting game, Gundam Versus puts a lot of emphasis on mobility. The fights occur in small arenas where you have the freedom to move laterally and vertically. It also keeps the controls insanely simple, with boost on the X button, movement on the left analog, and the rest of the buttons dedicated to your various attacks.
For someone like me who is coming in with almost no experience, I spent some time in the single-player tutorial. My big complaint with Gundam Versus at the start is that it doesn’t give you any strategic help at all. It will teach you the very basic move set but that’s it -- I actually had to go online to get some tips. What I found for my playstyle is that movement is key. It wasn’t until a couple of hours into the game that I finally got a grasp of the ebb and flow of matches. A lot of that was just experimenting with different mobile suits and trying different tactics. I found that I really struggled with range attacks so adjusted my style and mobile suit choice accordingly.
Unfortunately, the package is rather barebones when it comes to ways to help you practice. Gundam Versus does not contain a single player story at all. I’ve only passingly seen some Gundam anime but it seems like a world that’s so incredibly ripe for opportunity. Instead, we’re left with Ultimate Battle, a wave-based mode that has you go up against up to 50 waves of computer AI. It’s not a bad way to spend time, but the AI becomes predictable and once you learn their style its easy to blow right past them.
In reality, the big draw for Gundam Versus is multiplayer, which is all online. I spent the majority of my time in 3 v 3, a mode of pure, joyous chaos. There are mobile suits flying every which way and very little strategy to be had. You’re forced to engage, maneuver the best you can, and you'll need a healthy dose of luck. The smaller matches are where I began to realize how overmatched I was. I’m not sure I won more than two 1 v 1 games. The game did manage to run smoothly, though -- for about 90% of my games, I ran into no lag issues when playing the multiplayer.
Gundam Versus has a very simple design, but one that over time you can learn and get incredibly skilled at. I for one was complete rubbish with ranged weapons, so I instead focused on more agile suits, which I got used to and was able to navigate without taking much damage. When you do die in Gundam Versus, which will happen, you have to choose whether or not to respawn. You start each match with a certain number of points and those points are decreased every time you die. There’s a set number of points allotted to each mobile suit which is how much it will cost your team if you die - first team to run out of points loses. It makes the choosing of the right mobile suit an interesting one and also makes your strategy on who to take out one to think about.
One thing that struck me throughout my time with Gundam Versus was the amazing art style. I absolutely adore the look of the mobile suits. Given how many there are in the game it's really impressive that there’s that level of polish and sophistication in each suit. The same sadly can’t be said for the environments which are muddy. Look too closely at any of the detail on a map and you will notice right away that this game lacks much visual polish. The game looks pretty good and runs really smooth, though.
Gundam Versus is a really interesting fighting game, if not a little barebones. There aren’t any overarching features or modes to keep you engaged. There is just an absolute slew of mobile suits, a very competent move set, and opportunities for some really engaging battles. It’s going to come down to how much you like the fighting system and whether you want to really get into the competitive scene. Sadly, the last couple of days, finding matches online has become a lot harder and if that doesn’t improve, you’re not left with much else. Fans of the long-running series might have enough here to keep them, but for average fighting fans, the market is just overcrowded with great alternatives to necessarily warrant a heartier recommendation.
I'm the Owner & Editor in Chief of Darkstation.com. After spending seven years as the reviews editor I took over the site in 2010. The rest is history. Now I work with our amazing staff to try and bring you the best possible video game coverage. Oh and I really like sports games.