To many Western Vita fans, the Gundam Breaker series is well known as the franchise that Bandai Namco absolutely refuses to localize – so in order for English speaking fans to enjoy the greatness that is the Gundam Breaker series, they must plop down a sizable chunk of money and instead import it online. With prices as high as $70 US, one can understand that it’s a bit tough to break open the wallet with only the word of social media and/or friends to go on… and that’s where we come in.
Is Gundam Breaker 2 worth the hassle of importing? Let’s take a look.
Disclaimer: My Japanese is rough and this review will mostly cover gameplay, upgrades and comparisons to the first game – ignoring most text and spoken content.
For the uninitiated, Gundam Breaker 2 is a hack and slash Dynasty Warriors type game that takes place in a Gunpla VR simulator. In this VR simulator, you can mix and match parts such as legs, arms, bodies, guns, swords, and backpacks from the various Gunpla enemies that you face. Upgrading those parts is what gives the game its legs (no pun intended) – as the better parts you find, the easier it becomes to fight enemies as the game goes on.
In the original Gundam Breaker, parts found on the battlefield were given a star quality rating to indicate their worthiness to you and your overall build; in the sequel, parts can be upgraded with material dropped in the battlefield and can also add to your abilities. In some cases, you can even transform parts into something completely different – such as turning it into a part from a different suit.
Not only can you build body parts with that material however, but you can create weapons and shields as well. Weapons such as swords and guns are divided into long and short categories, with shields also separated into small, medium and large – each of these having different characteristics and play style. As always, there’s never a one size fits all sword/gun/shield setup; so mixing and matching is the most likely road to success in Gundam Breaker 2.
In this sequel, there’s quite a bit more variety when it comes to the models the AI enemies use. The game breaks away from the vanilla plastic models that the first game used, going all out with limited edition Gunpla models that will make every Gundam fan completely happy. The great part of the extensive line of kits is that they are all completely unlockable; there are no signs of any DLC that unlocks them from the start. These kits can be bought in the console store with in-game currency – earned by going through the story, playing online, or replaying levels.
Gundam Breaker 2’s gameplay takes place in several various locations such as the Gundam Café, space colonies, and other places that are found in the Gundam series. Unfortunately, each area only has one map that expands at every stop you make – so if you’re looking for a variety of locations, you won’t find it here… something I found rather disappointing.
If you’ve played a Dynasty Warriors game, you’ll feel right at home as Gundam Breaker 2 shares the simplistic control scheme that musou gamers have known to love. Attacking is pretty basic, with normal and heavy attacks mapped to square and triangle respectively. X is used to jump, however holding it will activate boost until your meter runs out. Your same close action buttons are used to open up crates with a long press. This can be particularly annoying since the first game allowed you break the crates with a simple attack; not sure why this change was made, but I don’t like it.
Holding the right trigger along with square and triangle will unleash your EX actions. There are different EX action that you can map to your face buttons and they range from powerful attacks and healing. Blocking is done with the left trigger, though it’s notable that too many blocks can cause your shield to break.
During the course of battle ACE points are awarded by chaining long combos, defeating gangs of enemies at the same time, or in other words; wrecking shop. Collecting as many ACE points as you can will give you great rewards such as rare parts and/or materials.
As with almost every Bandai Namco game, the camera and lock-on are something that is more annoying than helpful. With lock on being automatic, you follow the selected enemy all over map without ever losing it – the only problem being that the camera likes to lock to the farthest enemy while there are two or three others standing much closer to you. For me, this meant that it always seemed to ignore the enemy that I wanted to attack.
In a fast-paced game, I’d expect the lock on system to work a bit better that that – but it seems to be an issue more linked to the developer than the game. Because of this issue however, the platform and flying stages have become an exercise in patience; not only do you have to fight tough enemies, but you have to do so with a lock on system that simply refuses to work in your favor.
At times, the AI does some wonky things too; for example, there are instances where the AI will just stand there without moving until it has been attacked – even though you can see clearly that you are in their vision. This goes the same for your AI sidekicks; while they’re certainly an improvement on the first game, that alone’s not saying much in this case. Often, I’ve watched my teammates just stand there like mannequins and get beat down, or pass by me without reviving my beat up carcass – neither a good practice in a helper. When they aren’t statues however, your teammates are mostly serviceable and will assist you in passing on to the next level.
For those times when the AI just can’t seem to help you though, you can rest assured that multiplayer’s back in Gundam Breaker 2… but it’s back with one glaring omission; no more cross-play. In the original Gundam Breaker, PlayStation Vita players played together with PlayStation 3 owners in all levels and there was no way to even tell who played on which console. This cross-console play meant a higher population of players to help you out to beat the game and/or grind for parts. This time however, the player base is now split between the two consoles – and you immediately see the consequence of this; fewer rooms available to join than there were at the same time after the first game’s release.
Multiplayer is accessed through the console in the hangar (central hub of the game). With options as level limits and up to four players, it’s enough to satisfy those who crave multiplayer. Most of the time, you’ll see a great majority of the rooms password protected, and even among those that aren’t you may often be over and/or under-leveled – but it is certainly possible to find a suitable match even now.
When in a multiplayer game, the host or other members may select missions for the entire group. You can use this to your advantage to beat the levels where you need help and still be able to level your gunpla up with parts and material.
Graphically, Gundam Breaker 2 is a visually stunning game. With a lot going on, there’s frame drops here and there but nothing game breaking (in my opinion, anyways). Running at thirty frames per second, the action still feels smooth and there doesn’t seem to be a big difference between this and the PlayStation 3 version – other than the higher enemy count and post processing not included in the Vita version (for obvious performance reasons).
Despite the fact that Gundam Breaker 2 is almost in full Japanese, it is mostly import friendly as all the menus are in English – alongside the tabs for building, painting and multiplayer. The biggest hurdle for importers (other than the price) would have to be the submenus and item part names, as they are only in full Japanese.
With Gundam Breaker 2 being a popular title however, you will have no problems finding menu translations with a simple Google search – and after a few hours in the game, the need for the translations will be gone as you’ll remember what everything is (the fact that upgrades are color coded makes it that much easier).
With that being said, people on the fence shouldn’t worry; this is an excellent game despite the few flaws. With an import price that’s close to double the cost of a retail game in the US, it’s a hard pill to swallow – but for those who don’t mind paying the extra money, you will not be disappointed. Gundam Breaker 2 improves on the original game in almost every way.
The Vita Lounge would like to thank BlueMaxima for providing screenshots for our review.
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