As a huge Gundam fan, and as much as I was looking forward to this since the announcement, even beginning to write this review is a little bit disheartening. Not just because New Gundam Breaker is the worst Gundam Breaker title in the franchise, but because of the shining light that came before it. Technical issues plague a Gundam title that with a little tweaking could have been a lot of fun. Overly repetitive missions combined with technical issues and a dull storyline bog down the true calling of what makes this franchise so unique.
Even jumping in to begin New Gundam Breaker isn’t inviting. The story is told through a series of static cutscenes like most visual novels. Unfortunately, none of the characters are very interesting, and most of them tend follow standard anime stereotypes. After being transferred to a Gunpla highschool, our protagonist meets up with a long lost childhood friend. After that the story does branch off a little bit, with different characters taking the spotlight. The overall story plays out pretty much the same throughout all of these branching storylines though, which doesn’t help replayability. I stopped after three playthroughs with different heroines, so I can’t speak to if the story changes after that.
This is the first Gundam Breaker title to take advantage of Unreal Engine 4, and while the visuals are fun and flashy, long freezes don’t help the experience. Fights are vibrant and well animated, but almost every stage New Gundam Breaker would freeze for up to three or four seconds at a time. In terms of aesthetics, my favorite part of New Gundam Breaker were the environments. There were only one or two reoccurring stages. One took place in a lab filled with Gunpla boxes and build kits, while another took place on a moon-like stage with a destroyed ship. None of the areas were difficult to traverse, but all of them had a unique hook.
New Gundam Breaker mixes up its stages by throwing a series of quests at players. The loop of destroying enemies and bashing parts off of other Gunpla remains the same, but instead of focusing on rival Gundams, New Gundam Breaker takes the focus off of the bigger badder enemies. None of the quests vary from stage to stage either. Most of them involve defeating the NPC character fodder, or finding a specific part. Occasionally, a stage specific quest will pop up like defeating a boss enemy. Other than these however, literally none of the quests are interesting. I’d much rather be having more intimate fights with rival Gunpla than shooting cannon fodder in a mad dash for quest points.
Quest points are the crux of each stage. Players must accumulate more of these points for their team than the other team can. All stages are either 3v3 or what I ended up calling 2vE for two versus environment. During the 3v3 battles the stages ended up degrading into chaos while I made a mad dash for points over the other team. More often than not it didn’t matter though, because my AI partners knew what they were doing most of the time. The 2vE stages were more frustrating though, because there was always a quest that would end the stage. My AI partner didn’t care if the stage ended, even if I didn’t have enough quest points to earn higher ranks. At that point I was actively trying to avoid ending stages to earn more points before the AI would force the end of the level.
Compounding on technical performance issues and poor mission structure were unresponsive controls. I often found myself jumping while trying to boost, or not standing up after a heavy attack knocked me down. Sluggish controls really mar an action game when things get chaotic, especially when I’m trying to plow through three or four second visual freezes.
New Gundam Breaker’s one saving grace was the Gunpla customization. There are tons of Gundam parts to break off of enemies and save for later use. I spent just as much time altering my Gundam and tweaking it for battle as I did engaging in actual fights. Players can customize weapons, all body parts, paint styles, and shields.
There is some fun to be had in New Gundam Breaker, but I doubt anyone will want to jump back in after a playthrough or two. Because of the repetitive nature of the mission structure and objectives, it begged to be played in shorter 20-30 minute increments before it started to lose my attention. Even the most die-hard Gundam fans are going to need to search for the enjoyment here, because on the surface there isn’t a lot.
New Gundam Breaker is available now for Playstation 4. This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher for that purpose, and is available for purchase here.