2017 has been a good year for a Gundam-loving game critic such as myself. Earlier this year we were blessed with the utterly brilliant Super Robot Wars V, and now, game-playing Gundam fans can look forward to the new entry in Namco Bandai's long-running Gundam Versus series of 3D fighting games, this one simply titled Gundam Versus. And waddaya know, it's not only phenomenal, it's my personal game of the show.
Throughout my lengthy demo, I played as four of the game's stunning roster 96, mobile suits strong, taken from everything from stone cold classics like Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, to cult favorites like Turn A Gundam, to oddities like Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack - Beltorchika's Children. Not that the anime Char's Counterattack is left out; for the first battle, I picked Amuro Ray and got right into the cockpit of the movie's iconic RX-93 v "Nu" Gundam, doing battle against Gundam Wing's Heero Yuy (Gundam names are wild ya'll) and his Wing Gundam Zero.
The first thing I noticed when the match started was just how damn pretty Gundam Versus looks. This particular match took place in the Thunderbolt Sector from Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, the ruined remains of a space colony with brilliant bolts coursing through the sky. The maps are all neat recreations of fun Gundam locales, although the detail on them is a tad lacking compared to the suits, which are perfected down to the very pixel and rocking a brilliant metallic sheen. Not only do the mobile suits have pretty models, their movements are very well animated and rocking awesome particle effects, with roaring blue exhaust and glowing beam sabers abound.
However, you can only admire the visuals for so long until it's time for combat, and let me tell you, combat in Gundam Versus is fun. Every suit has your usual array of melee and ranged attacks, sure, but the real star of the show is the fact that each of them has their own special melee and ranged attacks, each with their own animations and playstyles taken straight out of the source material. So yes, the Nu Gundam can fire off funnels, the Gundam F91 can use afterimages with mass, and the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam can transform, allowing the player to wail away at anyone even remotely in range.
Speaking of melee, once you get a good chain of close-ranged attacks going, Gundam Versus will actually switch camera modes to give you a better look at the titanic beatdown taking place, highlighting the crazy-fast animations and dueling suits. As the icing on the cake, there are 180 different "Strikers," mobile suits you can call in for quick assisst attacks. While there were four strikers in the demo, I only stuck with two, the iconic Zaku II and everyone's favorite useless mobile suit, the laser-shooting RB-79 Ball.
It took me a while to get a hang of all of these mechanics, but once I did, I was flying around a level, seamlessly going between long-ranged snipes and brutal close-quarters brawls with a simple boost dash. By the time my demo came to a close (I had another meeting to scurry to), I actually found it to be a bummer to set the controller down, a first for my E3 experiences. And it was then that I knew that I wasn't just ready for Gundam Versus—I can't wait for it.
Gundam Versus releases exclusively for PlayStation 4 this fall.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2017 Coverage Hub.