November 14, 2006 - Bandai-Namco's Gundam title was one of the highlights of E3 2005, when Sony first unveiled footage of the PS3. Along with the infamous Killzone and Tekken videos, Gundam showed what Bandai-Namco were hoping they could pull off with the PS3's capabilities. Of course, there was that huge furor over whether or not the videos were actually running on PS3 hardware or if they were just CG movies, but now that the system has finally launched in Japan, one thing is totally clear: if Bandai-Namco were hoping to attain that level of visual quality, they were way, way off. Gundam: Target in Sight is a third-person shooter that allows gamers to join either the Earth Federation or the ZEON forces during the epic One Year War, one of the most exciting and riveting storylines in the Gundam universe.
The visuals in the original trailer, which blew away audiences two years ago at E3, are definitely not the same as what's present in the actual game. Now, granted I'm not playing this game at 1080p - I'm using 720p instead - but the difference between the trailer and the game is insane. They're like two totally different games. Now, the detail on the models themselves is fine. There are a lot of subtle visual touches, such as machines showing signs of wear and use after battles, and a lot of cool explosions. However, framerate problems completely ruin the whole experience of the game. With a launch that includes two buttery smooth games in Resistance and Ridge Racer, throwing in Gundam is a total joke. The game moves at 30fps and actually shows signs of slowdown during battles. This is most apparent during melee combat situations, with two or more mechs fighting with their laser swords. The game's framerate takes quite a hit, and coupled with the less than stellar animation makes combat feel like it's occurring underwater. To make matters worse, there's also a lot of draw-in in every mission, even the ones with the most barren of landscapes. The landscape certainly does not go on for miles, and enemies usually pop-up as soon as they're in range. I suppose that's beneficial, since you can technically kill anything in your vision, but man does it look ugly compared to the rest of the PS3 launch lineup.
Even though this is the top-selling PS3 game in Japan at the moment, it seems that the license alone is generating sales, because even the gameplay isn't that great either. The missions for the most part are fairly average but some of them are just totally asinine and are insanely hard. In one mission on the Zeon side, you'll be asked to defend not one, but two bases that are located at opposite ends of the map. You have to do this while a seemingly endless stream of GMs attacks you. There isn't much in the way of support either. You don't have any accompanying partners to assist you either, which make things way too hard. Credit has to be given to the customization features in the game though, because they're fantastic and actually well-thought out, unlike the rest of the game. In the game you take turns, where one turn represents one day in the war. During the day you can perform maintenance on your mechs as well as upgrade them, but you can't do all of your upgrades in one day, so you'll have to wait until the day is over before continuing. Additionally, repairing any damaged mechs will also take several days, and you can't upgrade a mech if it has taken too much damage.
So while the customization is great and idiot-proof (you can get through it even if you have a minimal understanding of Japanese), what's the point of doing all of this if you can't show your friends? Given the capabilities of the PS3, you'd think that this game would be perfect for online play. The Japanese love Gundam and there's a ton of people who have bought the game. Too bad there's no online play at all. No co-op, no deathmatch, nothing. The game does have a VS Battle mode, but it's limited to 1 on 1 offline fights via split-screen. I think I liked doing this back in 2001, but that doesn't cut it anymore, especially when other games are doing it so effortlessly.
Because the US and Japan launches are so close, there's no way that any of these problems are going to be fixed for the US launch this week. Target in Sight would've been great as a launch title for the PS2, but not for the next generation of gaming. It's just missing so much that it's hard to stay positive about the game. What started off as being so promising has came up extremely short. As for the tagline... do you know why Target in Sight is the best-selling PS3 title thus far? Because it's Gundam.
Yea, I'm a big Gundam fan, I already pre-ordered this title, after reading about it. I'm disappointed, will probably rent from Blockbuster to give it a try. I'll just switch my pre-order over to Resistance Fall of Man for now.