At the recent PlayStaion 3 launch event in Toronto, we had an opportunity to go hands on with the final release of Namco Bandai's latest entry into the Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire. There's a lot to say about this game, and not a lot of it is good. I'm not a follower of the Gundam series in general; I'm aware it involves giant robots firing at each other, some politics as well, and that's pretty much it. But I saw this game and I thought "Hey, giant robots, that's got to be fun, right?"
Not so much. The first thing I noticed immediately was the controls. They felt sluggish, awkward, and hard to do anything with. Moving the robot forward felt clunky and with every step it took there was a slight pause in the movement. The result was a jolting experience created just by moving.
Then there's the experience of trying to aim the weapons I was given. Equipped with a handgun and Vulcan cannons mounted in the forehead, you should be able to shoot down anything you see. However, what I couldn't figure out was how you actually aim while you shoot. See, there's no targeting reticle, so you don't know exactly where you're shooting. You can change where you're aiming by turning your robot around, but you still don't know exactly what you're shooting at (especially since your own robot obstructs your view so you don't know what the bullets are hitting). Now, you can go into first-person mode so you know exactly where you're aiming. Unfortunately, while doing this you can't move at all, so you're essentially a sitting duck. This problem grows exponentially when you're trying to shoot something that's smaller than your waist, because it forces you to enter first-person mode.
The next thing I noticed after some time was the bland graphics. In the level I was playing it, set in some run-down city in Australia, all I could see was brown dirt and hills. The playing area was filled with some abandoned buildings that crumbled to the touch of your metallic avatar, and those looked decent enough (the robots also looked pretty good), but everything else looked muddy and dull.
In between the levels, in which you're given objectives and whatnot like destroy this, defend that, is some sort of giant-robot-management screen. You're given a set of days before your next mission starts, and a variety of things to do before then. You can bring in support pilots, new Gundam's, outfit your currently owned robots, things like that. I didn't get too in-depth into this because the interface was just terrible. Half the time I didn't know what I was doing, or what would be changed when I did it. So I just tried to get to the next mission as soon as I could.
This one just didn't interest me in the slightest. Maybe it's just because I don't keep track of the Gundam series. Maybe it's because everything looked very dreary. In any case, it's not something I enjoyed whatsoever.