Monday, June 19, 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs-Force (Vita)

Mobile Suit Gundam:  Extreme Vs-Force is the first iteration of the Extreme Vs series for the PlayStation Vita.  It is an action game featuring the Mobile Suits from various Gundam series.  Unfortunately, while it was developed specifically for the Vita, there are various compromises.  The most noticeable is the poor quality graphics which seem almost PSP level.  The environments are comprised of blocky buildings and the Gundam models have severe jagged edges.  It is quite disappointing.  The combat is the meat of the game and the controls takes some getting used to in the beginning.  Each Gundam has a melee attack and a ranged attack.

In addition to the melee and ranged attack, Gundams have special attacks.  A typical model would have a special ranged and special melee but others would have additional abilities such as a jetpack, detaching armor and even transformation, all based on their anime appearances.  There are heaps of Gundam models to choose from (over 30 in total including the ones provided by updates/patches) and since each has a different moveset it's very fun to experiment and choose one that you like.  In all the game's missions, you will be fighting against other Gundams.  Gundams also can hover and boost, guard from attacks and dodge.

You will feel the limits of the Vita's lack of the two shoulder triggers though, since even when there are moves removed when compared to the Arcade and PS3 versions, executing some of the Gundam's abilities can be awkward when you need to do it quickly.  While you control the camera with the right stick, the lock-on feature is unsuitable for this type of gameplay.  Enemies are quickly jumping around everything causing the camera to swing wildly and you can't easily aim for the one you wanted to.  Most of the game is comprised of the Extreme-Vs mode which serves as the game's story mode.

There are two main types of missions, a Vs mission and a Force mission.  Vs missions are simple, you control a Gundam and the aim is to defeat all the enemies.  Unfortunately, when you get missions where it is one versus many, it is extremely aggravating as you are constantly hit by enemy projectiles and cannot retaliate.  Or when enemies gang up on the Mothership, destroying it and forcing you to lose the battle.  It is times like these where it feels unfair, it doesn't help that the first time you play a mission, you are locked to a specific Gundam which means that it would not have the stat boosts that comes from levelling up.

Force missions have a tactical element as you are now in a team.  There are bases to capture which serve as respawn points if you die (likewise for the enemy), and you can capture and lose bases.  You can direct your squads to capture bases or engage in enemy.  Mission objectives can change midway too so you have to keep an eye on what's happening.  During these missions, there are also additional effects you can activate such as increased attack power or recovering health to all your Gundams.  The costs of these effects depend on how many enemies you have already defeated.

Each missions takes place in a small area so it can feel cramped when you reach the edges so easily.  There is a time limit in missions which is usually generous enough; you rarely lose due to time running out.  That said,t he game is difficult for first time players.  You feel like your own Gundam is underpowered while your opponents' are not.  Your HP rapidly declines yet your opponents are damage sponges.  All enemies seem to love to target you even when you have heaps of allies so you can't even get shots in since dodging is so awkward you will probably rely on boosting which only has a 50/50 chance of dodging attacks.

It is frustrating at times but you can spend in-game currency to boost your Gundam's attack and defences if you end up being stuck in a particular mission, which is a small boon but feels like cheating.  An interesting side effect to the combat is that you end up having to keep your eye on multiple gauges from your weapons, to health on yourself and others.  Ammo is limited and once depleted, there is a cooldown before you can use it again so accuracy is quite important.  All Gundams used in a mission earn experience afterwards and most can level up.

Earning a level will boost the Gundam's abilities which are different for each one.  These effects make a huge different in boosting the Gundam's combat abilities and survivability.  The story is a write-off.  You are an AI called Project Force where you use virtual reality to relive certain Gundam moments, including what-if scenarios.  The reason being that by doing so, you are able to save humanity.  It's all told via dialogue and it is fairly weak with the ending being quite disappointing.  You earn in-game currency called GP by completing missions.  GP is used to unlock special levels, use buffs and recover durability of Gundams.

GP is tight in the game, you won't be amassing so much that you don't know how to spend it and will probably be replaying various missions to earn enough to unlock all levels.  One of the neat things is that the music used is also from the various anime, which gives it an authentic feeling.  Clearing just the story mode will take around 7-12 hours depending if you go for many of the side missions.  Otherwise, finishing all missions will take around 10-20 hours depending on your proficiency.

Via updates, there are two additional modes added to the base game.  The first is a Free Battle mode where you can select any unlocked Gundam and set the CPU difficult.  This is perfect for practicing your Gundam's moves.  The other mode is Course Battle which is a series of Vs battles, aiming for a higher score.  Overall, at its best, Mobile Suit Gundam:  Extreme Vs-Force is really fun, however, the beginning is filled with frustrating and unfairness for newcomers.  The game is recommended to fans of action, just don't expect to understand the story and be prepared to practice, practice, practice.


For other game reviews, have a look at this page.


Physical copies of the game also get seven shiny foil cards depicting various Mobile Suits.

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