Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is a game about giant robots fighting each other. And yet, at the beginning of the game, these giant robots ask "Why fight?" To that, I ask: What else do giant robots do?
For more than 30 years, giant robots have been fighting in the Gundam manga and anime series. (Technically they're not robots - they're people in robot suits. Same dif.) The robots themselves resemble Transformers wearing ancient samurai armor - jutting blades, outlandish colors, elaborate headdresses. Everyone looks like an industrial drag queen.
They have names that are as ornate as their suits. One character is named Gato. "Anavel Gato?" another character asks. "The nightmare of Solomon?" I don't know what that means either. I looked at a few episodes of a Gundam cartoon, but it didn't help. All I learned is that these suits are driven by people who are notorious for their prowess in battle, but who have the complicated relationships of soap opera characters. They exchange swipes with lightsabers as long as bridges while bickering about vendettas and love affairs.
They do this fighting in battlefields filled with nameless and unbickering robots that are there to serve as sword-fodder for the stars. If the storytelling in Gundam is a cartoon version of a melodrama, the combat in Dynasty Warriors is a cartoon version of a videogame. Instead of dozens of enemies surrounding the characters, there are hundreds. It's a testament to modern videogame technology that these hordes fight and explode without skipping a beat.
One handy thing about robots is that they come equipped with jet boosters and jump packs. This helps the battles in Dynasty Warriors avoid the clogged-up feel of many third-person group battles, where the enemies slowly flow around me like lava. In Dynasty Warriors they just jump into place.
The action becomes so frenetic it's almost a relief when the battles are over and the anime characters stand around talking. I ignored what they were saying, but I was mildly absorbed by the customization I was able to bring to my giant robot suits. After all, what's the point of having a skyscraper-sized, unicorn-horned suit of gleaming white battle armor if you can't make it a better battle machine? That's why we fight, isn't it?
THE GOOD: I've always enjoyed the complex mix of morality in anime. There aren't always clear-cut good guys and bad guys. As a result, Dynasty Warriors has chapters that make me fight against characters that I was controlling in other chapters. Every side in this conflict has an agenda. And even though that agenda is usually just "Fight!" it's nice to see the narrative style of anime take advantage of the shifting perspective that videogames can provide.
THE BAD: That shifting perspective, however, adds up to approximately 50 different characters and dozens of different robotic suits, each of which can be customized in numerous ways. This diversity quickly overloads the game with options, and finding a favorite character-suit-customization combo can suffocate what should really be a fast-paced fighting game.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 is a lighting fast button-mashing fighter for the otaku who likes to collect and customize.
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3
Rated Teen; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3