Mobile Suit Gundam: Target In Sight Review (PS3)

You can say what you want about positive human nature, but illusion and deception are as old as mankind itself. Perhaps the most famous example of this dark side to our collective personality is Homerís portrayal of the ĎTrojan Horseí within the epic ancient Greek poem The Odyssey. A giant wooden statue filled with assassins, welcomed in by an unsuspecting city whilst the rest of the army hid out of sight and ready to spring into action once corruption had occurred from within. Of course the rest of that tale is ancient legend thatís permeated our modern culture, but it says a lot that itís the first thing that popped into my consciousness after playing Mobile Suit Gundam Ė Target in Sight on the Playstation 3.

You always have a melee weapon handy
The main Gundam models donít look all that bad

Lets get right to the point here, Gundam is a PS2-level game at the best of times, given a new lick of paint to appease fans and pull people in with box art and still screenshots. Itís a textbook case of deceptive and cynical marketing in order to get any consumer to even put this near a brand-new £400 videogame console, let alone anything from the previous generation.

Bandai-Namcoís tentatively Ďnext-gení mech game kicks off with a short series of still photos and a narrative depicting the war between Earth and Zeon, the apparently villainous invading faction. No particular amount of exposition is spent on the origin of the conflict and youíll need to delve into the series history if this piques your interest in any form, but you can choose to play as either side right off the bat. Once youíve made your choice youíll be placed into a short tutorial level to learn the basics of the mech controls and mission structure, along with meeting a few of your adversaries in the process.

Your first taste of the Gundam tutorial level may well leave you shaking your head in disbelief as the camera pans across a basic, heavily-fogged war-torn city with a framerate that dives into the sub-10 range almost constantly. In fact the only time that the framerate holds up throughout the entire game is when you stand absolutely still and there are no other enemies on-screen. In addition to this, after taking control of your mechanised friend for the first time youíll quickly notice that whole sections of animation seem to be completely missing. Simply turning your mech from left to right involves the character model magically transporting itself 3ft in the opposite direction with only a fraction of the frames of animation necessary to convey the movement. Audio suffers the same fate, with basic sound effects and a plethora instantly forgettable in-game music. There are rushed games and rushed games, this is definitely the latter.

Destructible environments, all the rage in next-gen gaming
Tap X to give yourself a temporary boost from your jetpack

Visual impressions aside, all could be forgiven if the game managed to play well, but unfortunately the mechanics have been given the same lack of treatment as the aesthetics, and play comes across as generally horrendous. Gunfire is slow and unsatisfactory, the melee weapons are an absolute joke and the Mobile suits themselves all handle as if wading through treacle on one leg, taking forever to respond to any input. I can appreciate that a game based on huge mechanised robots may not be the most nimble of pursuits, but you only have to look at a game such as Chromehounds to realise that you can convey a sense of connection with a hulking, large character without losing graceful movement in the process. Gundam simply feels like you have absolutely no control over your avatar at times, making the game a complete chore to play.

Following on from the horrendous introduction, the campaign mode involves a spinning globe representing a strategic overworld map, upon which all the active missions in that particular time-frame will be listed for you to choose from. This screen also acts as the main menu containing the upgrade and repair options for your Mobile suits, as well as being able to choose new weaponry and a variety of sidekicks to take on your next mission. Itís a standard interface that serves its purpose well and is probably the only part of the game that isnít immediately visually repugnant, despite the best attempts of the designers to include the most pixellated and murky green-brown background image in the history of videogaming.

The main structure of your operations is carried out across pseudo-turn based timeframe, but without any penalty for missing missions as you play through the game. You can simply retry these again on the next cycle, which makes the whole concept seem a little pointless and strange. Despite the attempt of the designers, there is no sense of scale or a global war which could have improved the atmosphere of the final product dramatically. The lack of in-game cinematics hurts in this respect also.

The campaign itself lasts around 6-7 hours in total over a series of 25 missions, and of course you always have the option of replaying the game as the opposition if masochism is your idea of a good time. Multiplayer support is limited to local 2-player deathmatch support with an even more unbelievably shoddy framerate. Quite the achievement.

Every mobile suit or enemy has several individually targeted hit zones
It occasionally looks almost acceptable, when nothing is moving that is

If you attempt to play Gundam shortly after playing any of the latest titles on your new console, itíll be a struggle to believe that the disc that youíve just placed into the slot-loading mechanism of your shiny new toy is a game fit for this generation or any other for that matter. The game reeks of being rushed to market to cater for the Japanese fan-base and does the reputation of the PS3 absolutely no favours in the process. Itís a shame that the undoubted power of the machine has to be wasted on one of the worst launch games ever to be created.

Top game moment:
Finally getting to grips with the controls well enough to take down an enemy or two.

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