Gundam Break is a long-running series that has sadly never really managed to get a Western release until with the most recent entry, which is appropriately titled as ‘New’ Gundam Breaker. This is not just a way to sell the game to the Western audience, it actually makes a lot of major changes for the series that end up making it worse than its predecessor, however, this is further intensified by the poor performance of the game that comes at the cost of enjoying the action-packed combat.
New Gundam Breaker still retains the core concept of the series which is the so-called ‘Gunpla’ or Gundam Plastic Model. This was always a fan service game where you can fully customize your Gunpla with a whole assortment of customization items from the Gundam universe. So while it retains this important characteristic of the series, it completely falters with everything else. The gameplay is mediocre, the story is a slog to get through, and the mission design is incredibly repetitive and dull to the point that you will have to struggle to finish the missions. It is just an overall bad package that builds on top of the Gunpla customization feature of the game.
New Gundam Breaker’s story begins in an academy which only admits the best Gunpla builders and your character starts as a newcomer who gets enrolled in the academy on the basis of his skills. The game gives you the option to give him a name but he is still completely devoid of any personality in most conversations. Despite the focus on Gunpla builders, the main quest actually takes a backseat as the game shifts to a more romantic visual novel side. This aspect is completely baffling to me since the story could have potential if they decided to focus on what made the game good in the first place, which is basically the quest to become the best Gunpla builder.
The romance element is not just thrown off as a side narrative, the story is actually revolved around this viewpoint. Once you are able to pass certain milestones in the story mode, the game will give you the choice to form a relationship with academy girls like Yui, Iori, and Ryouko. Even if you ignore this forced narrative, the story mostly focuses on boring missions that let you collect parts, battle your challengers or generally offers quests that feel like a repetitive set of checkpoints and make you waste your time with boring tasks.
So what do you actually do in the story mode aside from trying the romance elements? For starters, the cut scenes are all played out like in a visual novel. You will see the character portraits with text on the screen while some conversations will lead to a choice being offered to you that can result in a different dialogue outcome. It is mostly linear experience with minor alterations so don’t expect a well thought and designed story mode here.
The game is primarily focused on action based combat with your character controlling their Gunpla through the use of virtual reality. Each mission begins on a map that has parts for your Gunpla scattered around. You can also encounter enemies on the map who can drop Gunpla parts. There is a limit to how much parts you can carry at a time so you will have to settle between transferring them for storage and keeping them for battle. It is mostly a tedious affair though due to the confusing nature of the UI and controls.
Your gunpla can use special skills or do traditional attacks using the face buttons. Ranged weapons can also be equipped that let you fire a normal or charged shot. The maneuverability is fast enough, letting you dash or perform jumps at a long distance, but it is the combat system that doesn’t stand much on its own. During each mission, you will be killing the same enemies again without much to distinguish them apart. The performance truly suffers here with each fancy attack resulting in the frame rate struggling to run smoothly, which is surprising to me because the game hardly looks any decent. I was playing it on a PS4 Pro and the performance result was the same despite boost mode, so I can’t even imagine how worse it is on a regular PS4.
Most of the story missions are for 3 vs. 3 battles which put you in a team of 3 against another opponent. The goals are usually to do a set of tasks, such as, defeating a certain amount of enemies, breaking a certain amount of objects, or locating some parts for your Gunpla. There is also a fight thrown in between with some mini-bosses but it is mostly a loop that keeps repeating until the mission ends and the team with the most points is the winner and awarded a rank based on the number of points and goals they were able to complete.
What saves New Gundam Breaker is the customization it offers. There are many parts that you can collect for your Gunpla to customize them as you see fit. In the start, your Gunpla will be fairly basic but with time, as you collect more, it will be possible to make it a threat with the rare and powerful parts. It is still a grind to get them though, and some of them can also be bought from the in-game shop that requires a ridiculous amount of money.
Even if you do this all, your Gunpla will always start with level 1 in each mission and while they can earn experience points, the level will reset once the mission ends making your experience gained essentially useless. It makes it harder to go through some of the tougher missions that pit you against high-level enemies since you will be grinding for experience points before you are able to take them down. Collecting parts to customize Gunman comes handy here so don’t forget to keep your Gundam upgraded and equipped with the deadliest weapons.
New Gundam Breaker Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Break, build and battle with the Gunpla you’ve always wanted in NEW GUNDAM BREAKER! Blast through enemy Gunplas and collect their fallen weapons and armor to customize your Gunpla in real time and now you can team up with your friends in a 3v3 co-op mode! Don’t miss out on the action in the newest installment of this fan-favorite series!
Gundam Breaker is an incredibly fun series, unfortunately, the first major English release for it was a rather disappointing entry that suffers from a terrible story mode, lack of engaging combat with an awful performance. It still has some redeeming quality with the customization offered for Gunpla, but this is not enough to overlook its major faults.