Someone might say that peace can be had if everybody were to stop fighting. But what if that weren't enough? Maybe people don't need reasons to wage war. This would certainly lead to chaos, a state of war that is so terrible that people will fight and continue to kill one another until nothing is left. On the other hand, it is because of this chaos that the Dynasty Warriors franchise thrives. Heroes from all times and worlds are placed in constant battle. This is so that the player can earn better weapons, more experience, plus all sorts of special pieces of equipment and powers so their next kill can be quicker and more spectacular than their last.
The speed and pacing of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 are without peer.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 focuses on capturing the moment. This moment is one where all of the problems, all of the hatred, and practically everything that could lead a man to kill can be found. The game then creates a dimension where many of the heroes and villains that make up the various Gundam series are drawn, all of them overcome by this moment. The pilots of these Mobile Suits have incomprehensible power in their hands. They're also gifted with unique abilities or happen to have exceptional talents. What makes them most dangerous, however, is that they're mentally and emotionally unstable.
Typically, over the course of a Gundam series, the characters undergo development. Maybe their problems are settled, they talk things out, or they kill somebody they dislike, but at least - for better or worse - they change. This game takes special care in only carrying over the worst elements of everybody. If one of them were to bump into the other and did not apologize this would lead to a fight; some flimsy evidence and vague information is more than enough reason to go to war.
It should be no surprise that the story for this Gundam entry is practically nonexistent, since it is a crossover game and thus makes a good excuse for sending everybody's favorite Gundam characters out to fight one another. Progression in this game is determined by the completion of missions, of which there are over three hundred. In the interest of sanity, these missions take only about five minutes to complete, which still won't stop you from spending many sleepless nights playing this game. There are multiple types of missions, some with the focus on telling a story, others with the sole intent on assisting player growth, and still others catering to the fans.
Before you decide on a mission, you should start with a pilot. As per Dynasty Warriors tradition, only a few Mobile Suit pilots are selectable at the start, but over time the number jumps dramatically. Each pilot has a specific Suit he can call his own, but through the purchase of licenses the player can opt to have his favorite pilot take any Suit of his choosing.
The selection of Mobile Suits in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is quite impressive. The newer additions, like the 00 Raiser and the Unicorn, knock things out of balance somewhat. While a decent number of the Suits are strong in their own right, the advantages that these particular Gundams have will make them hard to ignore. This is all right by me in a way, since Haman Karn is my pilot of choice and whatever she flies is awesome. Even the lowliest throwaway Mobile Suit is accounted for, and you'll likely find yourselves using them to unlock even more missions. It is fair to warn you, however, that at times you'll have to use specific pilot/suit combinations in order to progress. Thankfully, the process isn't painful at all thanks to shops that allow the purchase of training to build experience, and the blueprint system that I'll go into a bit later.
About all of the missions have the same goal: conquer the enemy headquarters and then defeat the leader. Each map has numerous areas that can be held by either side. Some even offer benefits like catapults for reaching faraway areas quickly or restoring the armor of you and your allies. Standing in your way will be hundreds of Mobile Suits, a handful of ace pilots, and possibly a Mobile Armor or two.
The hundreds of Mobile Suits sound daunting, until you're reminded that this is a musou game and these soldiers exist solely to die by the dozen with every press of the button. These are the sort of guys whose last words are, "IT'S A GUNDAM! AUGHHHGHblizzzz," and most likely you're destroying them so you can take over an area of the map. Otherwise, it's best to deal with these nuisances before or during confrontations with ace pilots. These foes are at least somewhat comparable in strength with you and are not to be taken lightly, since if left unchecked they will attack your bases and severely decrease your chances of winning the mission.
Mobile Armors are behemoths that are generally near-impossible to take down. Unless you're really overpowered, defeating these gigantic enemies requires the destruction of numerous weak points. This will cause them to lose access to certain attacks as well as decrease the strength of their armor.
The process is formulaic. Go through all of the steps necessary to complete the mission, unlock the next, and continue for however many hours it'll take to unlock everything. This likely won't deter you from making this game your new addiction however. There is always something to look forward to when a mission is completed. For instance, upon completion of any mission, blueprints will be doled out for nearly every Mobile Suit you destroy. These blueprints lead to the creation of new Mobile Suits with differing stats. Upon completing particular missions, you'll unlock up to four tiers of blueprints, which will lead to some incredible Mobile Suits. Furthermore, Suits as well as pilots can be augmented with special equipment and skills to add new abilities.
While I'd love to decry the nature of this system and its reliance on "carrots" that keep the player going, I have found this game to be impossible to put down for any length of time. Omega Force really knocked it out of the park here, because not only is its method of unlockables and level-building perhaps the most well-done in any of OF's games, the actual core of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is excellent. This is coming from somebody who hated the first game in the series. Due to this, I missed out on the second game, so I'm likely unaware of the changes that were made in the interim - but the actual battles and feel of fighting in this game are excellent, so it is obvious quite a few changes had to have been made.
What I found most appealing about the combat this time is how quick and streamlined it is. Battles with ace pilots move at a rapid pace and the methods of healing and armor have been changed. In a system somewhat similar to this generation's Ninja Gaiden II: when damage is taken, the majority of it can be recovered if the player avoids further attacks. This leads to less time spent looking for healing packs as well as more dangerous fights due to the increased damage everyone can do. Enemy combos can be devastating, so if you're caught in an attack you can boost out of danger at any time. The streamlined aspects extend to the handling of the regular soldiers: to avoid the boredom of having to seek out every single enemy to clear out an area, you can use charged or special attacks when destroying them. When soldiers are blown up in this manner, the explosion will affect any of their nearby comrades, potentially causing them to explode as well. These chain reactions are always satisfying and they really help to deliver that thrill that comes from piloting a Gundam.
The characters of the Gundam franchise are also quickly becoming one of my favorite aspects of the game. As I said earlier, everyone is transported to this strange dimension and without so much as a word they all decide to fight one another. Even if you're familiar with many of the characters and the series that they hail from, you'll be just as confused as they are as the battles rage. There is a distinct lack of context, and during battle it will lead to your enemies and allies trading insults, complaining, suffering from existential crises, or making some head-scratching profound statements. Many of the lines in this game are hilarious on their own, and at times the randomness of the battles catches on and inspires conversations that don't even make sense. Whether this is intentional or not is irrelevant because I think it's absolutely brilliant.
Before I forget, yes, this game does support online play. Originally, this game was released prior to Dynasty Warriors 7 and it shows. While co-op for up to four players is supported, the missions boil down to little more than everyone running around turning enemies into scrap. Playing online is useful for raising easy money and experience, since missions tend to be even shorter than usual. Unfortunately, as with Dynasty Warriors 7, the players don't sync properly most of the time, so even if it looks like you're fighting an ace pilot by yourself, his armor meter will likely be draining even when you're not hitting him. While the online mode is an afterthought at best, you can still play couch co-op. I recommend this, since the both of you can partake in the three-hundred-plus missions instead of the mere fifteen offered online.
If you're a fan of Gundams, the musou genre, or both, I figure you've already purchased this game and you're enjoying it immensely. I've played nearly every game the genre has to offer, and through all of the factors I've gone over in this review I must conclude that Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is one of the best. While it lacks the depth of the Sengoku Basara series and the level-design is lacking compared to the other Dynasty games, the speed and pacing of this game are without peer. Coupled with possibly Omega Force's best implementation of its character-building sub-systems this becomes a game that will consume your time, free or otherwise. I should warn you, though: do not get caught in the trap, because I imagine you'd hate your last words to be "Just one more mission."