Over the years, there have been some great (and terrible) Gundam games. But while many games let you pilot a Gundam, Gundam Breaker takes it one step further and lets you build your own dream Gundam as well.
Good — Build Your Dream Gundam
Gundam Breaker is centered around building “Gunpla” Gundam models and then piloting them in a special VR simulator.
You start the game with the most basic of mobile suits, the GM. Then by defeating ace pilots and winning boss battles, you gain some of the parts from your fallen foes’ Gundams. When fighting normal enemies you still have a chance to get some of their parts as well. In battle, you can temporarily blow pieces off of enemy Gundams. Then if these enemies are killed before they reclaim these pieces, there is a good chance you will be able to pick them up.
Moreover, the enemies you fight — and thus the Gundams you can build — come from a wide breath of Gundam anime: from the U.C. Gundams and Gundam Seed to Gundam Wing and others.
But it's not just about gathering all the pieces and re-creating your favourite Gundams from the franchise. Rather, you can mix and match any of the pieces with any others. Thus, you could begin with a Freedom Gundam and add the head of the original Gundam, the fin funnels from ν Gundam, and a pair of Zaku legs -- and that's just for starters. You can build any Gundam you can dream up. The combinations are practically endless.
Good -- Gotta Collect 'Em All
And just when you think the possibilities have been maxed out, you discover that even two of the exact same part can have different stats. After getting the parts you are looking for, finding and building those parts a second time will likely increase their stats in battle as your model building skill levels up the more you build. This adds a lot of replay value to the game.
And if you can't seem to get that one piece you really want to drop, there is always another option. By performing well in any given level, you often unlock a full Gundam model or two. Then you can use the money you have gathered in battle to buy this model kit from the in-game shop.
Mixed -- Fun to Build, Not as Fun to Play
Gundam Breaker is dead set on making the Gundam of your dreams exactly as you'd imagine it. Parts are never "just for show." If you have a giant beam rifle backpack or machine guns on your head, these are most certainly usable in battle.
But this, of course, serves to unbalance the game more and more as you go on -- despite the ever growing power and variety of the enemies you come up against. More than that, though, the AI is generally dumber than a box of rocks and will gladly line up to run at your super beam attack head on.
Moreover, the game really becomes repetitive and monotonous as you continue to play. You see the same battlefields again and again -- especially as you farm for that one part you're dying to find -- and even the really creative level layouts lose their charm.
And while Gundam Breaker certainly has a decent control setup, it is not nearly as tight as one found in something like Gundam Extreme VS.
Bad -- No Plot
Other than a few short scenes where the game within the game compliments your piloting ability, there really isn't anything you can call a plot. Really, Gundam Breaker is little more than an open-ended setting. You are you, going to an arcade where you can pilot the Gundam models you have built and win more pieces to make your Gundam better. That is the long and short of it.
Any kind of plot would have been useful in breaking up the repetitive level objectives and/or the endless grind of replaying the same level again and again when you were seeking a particular part. A clash with a rival builder, a build-your-own-Gundam tournament, a common group of teammates that fight alongside you -- even these cliché plots are better than the total absence of a story.
Bad -- Useless Stats
The game has a big focus on stats, especially if you are trying to build the strongest Gundam you can with the parts you have. The problem is that often the stats tell you nothing at all, especially when it comes to the weapons. Sure, a giant cannon will do more damage than a machine gun bullet-for-bullet, but without knowing the rate of fire and/or damage per second for each weapon, this information is largely useless. In the end, the only way to answer this questions is trial and error
All in all, Gundam Breaker is a game focused at a very specific type of gamer. If you are a Gundam fan anxious to build your own Gundam, a gamer who loves grinding for loot, or someone who just loves building things, you'll probably find yourself happy with Gundam Breaker. If you aren't, you'll find little to like in this game filled with repetitive, monotonous gameplay and a total absence of plot.
Gundam Breaker was released on June 27, 2013, for the PlayStation 3 in Japan. There is currently no word on a Western release.