If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I personally thought that the formula for the Breaker games was perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect, but pretty dang close. So why change it? Marketing perhaps? Or maybe Bandai dared to do something different for the new crowd of gamers who weren’t willing to import yet still wanted to experience the battle, break, build! formula. For those unfamiliar with the series, Gundam Breaker puts you in the cockpit of a Gundam of your own building via virtual reality. The purpose of the game is to battle other Gundams, break off their part, and build your dream mech. Rinse, wash, repeat.
So what’s “New”?
Part limits. Previously you were able to pick up as many parts as you wanted on the battlefield. New Gundam Breaker gives you a limited inventory with the option of depositing that load into a recovery point that moves to a new location every time you use it. This doesn’t help the flow of things in the slightest. The series is about fast hack and slash combat, but also about building the very best Gundam you can by gathering parts. Having to juggle both means one will inevitably become secondary.
Quests. You now receive a ranking based on how many quests you’re able to complete in the allotted time. Quests are objectives to complete while fighting and usually include destroying a specific unit or containers. High battle rankings result in better rewards. Unfortunately, this idea is flawed from the ground up. For one thing, quests will require your immediate attention because some are timed and even the ones that aren’t timed can be completed by the end first and therefore you don’t gain points while they do. Another annoying issue with these quests is the fact that the AI cannot be given any instruction on how to approach them. While you’re attempting to complete quests for a higher battle score, the AI will oftentimes rush the main quest, ending the battle before you can even get enough points to score the S-rank. This gets old quickly as you’ll need to replay levels and basically run around like a chicken with your head cut off in order to outpace your own teammates who happen to be working against you in your high score venture.
Frame type. These effect the Gundam’s class, so to speak, and there are five types.
Balance Frame– versatile and easy to use. Average abilities with no strengths or weaknesses.
Striker Frame– Good at breaking parts. High reaction speed, endurance, and stun resistance.
Gunner Frame– Glass cannon with high attack power and low durability.
Enchanter Frame– Specializes in EX skills. Attack power is low, but can take a lot of damage.
Searcher Frame– Best suited as a support unit. High speed with exceptional recovery EX skills.
Each Frame has two EX Skills available while awakened. Awakened mode can be triggered by pressing L3 and R3 simultaneously when the red-orange bar at the lower left corner of the screen is full. It serves as a super strong form that lasts for a brief period, but allows your Gundam to employ graphically fantastic skills that can turn the tide of combat if used correctly. You can also pick up experience from containers and destroyed units, which powers up your Frame and gives you access to the other EX Skills that are tied to your parts. Parts fit into one of the following categories: head, body, legs, arms, backpack, shield melee weapon, and ranged weapon. Each part has a skill tied, though some have multiples from which you can select one in the build screen.
There are no requirements for building a Gundam other than for it to consist of one of each of the categories I mentioned. You can use any parts you have acquired, meaning there are some amazing looking bots you can build. Of course, you may end up sacrificing looks for stats and vice versa, but there’s a huge amount of parts and therefore a significant amount of customization options available.
For the most part, combat remains the same as other Breaker titles. It’s hack and slash, requiring you to boost around the battle field and chain together heavy and light attacks using square and triangle in order to dispatch enemy Gundams. Your ranged weapon can be fired with R2 and in lieu of ammo there’s an energy bar that recharges when you’re not shooting. You can also block with your shield using R1. Unfortunately, there are issues here that didn’t exist prior to the New title as well. The camera, more specifically the lock-on feature, is stiffer than in previous games and that proves to be a detriment when you’re facing off against a group of enemy units. EX Skills were previously available from the get go, but now you must waste precious time breaking open boxes or killing enemies to gain access to them. The battlefield timer feels far too quick–particularly if you’re going for a S rating and therefore must scramble to complete quests to rack up points.
Those familiar with the anime will likely be tickled by the fact that the Gundam you pilot in the Breaker games is actually the size of the scale models and as such, some of the playing fields are mundane places like work desks. Because you use virtual reality to command your mech, you’re also given a host of beautiful locations to zip around and defeat other Gundam.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of time to explore. In previous titles, you were able to move around the map at your own leisure but in New Gundam Breaker, the quest system adds a time limit on battles, so to speak. If your partner AIs accomplish the main objective while you’re attempting to do something else, the battle ends whether you’re ready or not. This was frustrating for a number of reasons, but primarily because it worked against me in tandem with the part pick up limit.
Typical to the culture, the story features your main character as a promising student at a prestigious high school. There’s no option to select your gender (male), but that’s a nitpicky complaint. At Gunbre High School the curriculum includes Gundam battles and the School Council’s corruption makes it so that battles are no longer a fun pastime available to students, but a way for the elite to prove their mettle. Enter your character and a team of girls he befriends (because yay anime harems) to form Side O, a revolutionary group set on over turning the student government and returning things to the way they used to be. The story is told via voice-acted cut scenes comprised of static characters drawn in an anime style and its woven between battles. Characters change expression and there’s definitely been a lot of time spent creating a script that will keep the reader engaged.
The story branches into scenarios starring the game’s leading ladies, giving it a faux dating simulator feel, complete with dialogue options. Kind of. A lot of the time, you get just one that pops up on-screen for no reason other than to make you feel as though haven’t waded through a wall of text exchange. When there are multiple dialogue options, selecting any seems to lead to the same path, but with slightly different flavour text. It’s disappointing and, honestly, the story would have been better without them. Games that give you options that have absolutely no bearing on what’s happening are a pet peeve of mine, however, so others may feel differently.
Is this a great game? No. But is it a terrible one? Not quite. While New Gundam Breaker may feel like a let down by fans of the series, it still does a sufficient job of delivering the high-speed battles and mech customization that lied at the heart of the Breaker titles. The new additions aren’t the best of ideas, but additional patches from the developer will hopefully alleviate some of the frustrations these design decisions create. For what it is, the title could be better, but it could also be far worse.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New Gundam Breaker Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
The Breaker series finally comes West! A review by someone who has imported Gundam Breaker 1-3.