There is a theorem that states “an infinite number of monkeys hitting keys at random on an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare.” The theorem is intended to demonstrate the perils of trying to define infinity by using a finite, though vast, number. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 takes this theorem to heart and seems to depend upon the fact that if you do the same actions over and over and over again, you may eventually find a rewarding experience lurking somewhere in the depths. Unfortunately, Gundam 2 is not Hamlet and the play experience is more akin to using Yahoo’s babelfish to translate a book written in English to another language, to another, and yet another before finally translating it back.
Being a Dynasty Warriors game, Gundam 2 has the same four game mechanics that are present in that series: hack and slash action, the ability to choose your character from a cast of dozens, an RPG-type mechanic where characters gain levels and collect items to grow stronger, and the ability to do all of the above with a friend [Alas, poor Yorick]. These mechanics then come together in what has been the basic game play throughout the series’ lifespan, i.e., choose a character, run through a series of missions defeating enemies by the hundreds, beat the game, rinse and repeat with a new character. In Gundam 2, the formula stays the same, but the changes to the game mechanics leads to a wholly different, and seemingly never-ending, experience. [and now how hated in my imagination it is]
Starting with the character selection in the “Official” (read “story”) mode, the first notable change is that rather than having dozens of characters from which to choose, you only have four. The reasoning behind this, aside from trying to keep a tight story experience, is that you are able to choose which “mobile suit” (read “giant fighting robot”) your character will pilot. This makes sense within the overall setting, however, it’s not quite that simple. When you play through a story mode with a character for the first time, you are limited to whatever mobile suits that character would have at that point in the story. Often this means that as you progress through a story mode, your mobile suit will suddenly change and all the upgrades that you had acquired to that point are lost. So while your pilot keeps his or her experience level and bonuses, your mobile suit (the thing that’s pretty much doing all of the action) resets to a base level at a point in the campaign where enemies stop hurling rocks at you, and start launching rockets. [The festoons and the arrows of outrageous fortuin (sic)]
In order to choose which mobile suit you want to play through the story mode with, you have to first beat the story mode. To put it another way, you have to beat the game in order to unlock a feature that’s printed on the box! When you do unlock the ability to select your mobile suit, your selection is limited to just a few of the suits. If you want to broaden the selection, you have to gather all the parts to build the mobile suits and then unlock them by completing License Missions in “Mission” mode, which requires you to complete other missions first in order to unlock those missions... . Defining infinity by using a vast, finite number may be futile, but Gundam 2 comes close to defining infinity through a game play experience. [Or it takes arms against overseas problems]
Now, this has all been a lot of talk about the game itself without much discussion of the co-op experience, but all of this has been to set-up what that experience is like. Are you ready? Dynasty Warrior: Gundam 2’s co-op experience is summed up in eight words: it makes infinity seem a little bit shorter. Destroying countless armies of giant fighting robots with a friend is fun, but that fun quickly turns into a dull, unrelenting tedium that, like being on a family road trip when you were a kid, has no immediate end in sight. (are we there yet?) If you feel up to the challenge of taking on infinity, then the best use of your friend’s time is to use a character/mobile suit that you’ve already leveled up on your own to make unlocking things for another character easier. Of course, I can’t say that using your friends in a mad quest to find an end to infinity is the best way to enjoy a co-op game, or keep friends. [this it is the madness, still there in the method]
Being a spin-off, and a new iteration of, the Dynasty Warriors games, Gundam 2 has its own variations and tweaks to the typical Dynasty Warriors elements in order to make the game fit in the context of the Gundam universe. Unfortunately, none of the tweaks are improvements, and the changes to the character and RPG mechanics cause the hack and slash action to turn into the ultimate example of what it feels like to be a snake eating its own tail. This leads to a fairly mediocre, and potentially friendship altering, co-op experience. [one of smaller parents and less pleasant] In summation, the developers of this game forgot that brevity is the soul of wit, or as babelfish so kindly translated, is consciousness the heart of the cause.