New Gundam Breaker is an action based Gunpla game that released for the PlayStation 4 system on June 22, 2018 for North American consumers. Essentially the next installment following the successful Gundam Breaker 3, fans were excited that an official edition of a Gundam building game would not be an Asia region only exclusive. A PC version was to be released but was pushed back towards the end of Summer 2018.
SYNOPSIS & STORY
In New Gundam Breaker, you play as a newly arrived transfer student who arrives at Gunbre High School, where everything is settled through Gunpla Battle. Despite being set in a high school setting, there isn’t an option to choose the gender of your particular character, which happens to be male by default. The plot for the game seems like a simple one, which is to bring back the fun of Gunpla back to the school. As you proceed through various scenarios and make some reactionary choices within a particular interaction, none of the choices you make have no bearing on the ending of a particular story and is only reactionary for that particular dialog.
Characters in the game that you interact with have some distinctive personalities, mainly because they resemble character stereotypes you’d find in romantic anime comedies. Even with this apparent display from the different girls that you meet in New Gundam Breaker, it feels forced and non-organic in the sense of what could be considered “romantic” options. Much of the dialogue seems to pander at Gundam fans, with characters making a lot of Gundam based references, many of them being sometimes out-of-place.
Powered by Unreal Engine 4, New Gundam Breaker boasts some very impressive visual models in comparison to the engine used with the previous Gundam Breaker 3. While it is unclear what prompted the engine change with this installment of this Gundam series, there were plenty of instances that suggested that UE4 was a good visual alternative or replacement, as even the in-game environments felt decently good and pleasing to the eye. Gunpla certainly looked great as well, regardless of the lighting or environment it was in. While the texturing of the Gunpla themselves showed very little difference in comparison to the previous game, it continued the sense as if one was actually assembling the model kit in front of themselves, adding to that immersion.
However, this is where things take a turn in a weird direction. While UE4 looked great, there were instances where the FPS performance would severely dip, suggesting that the game was severely bottlenecked and poorly optimized. This would be highly apparent when there were a lot things happening all at once. Even outside of combat, the Gunpla models and loading transitions felt sluggish.
New Gundam Breaker comes a new UI and numerable core changes to its gameplay. Gunpla get their base stats from an internal frame that is designed for different settings, such as Balanced Frame – a jack of all trades configuration, and Seeker Frame – a frame for advanced users and not optimized for combat. Gone are the previous EX skill system that allowed players to utilize abilities that would be found on other Gunpla, instead are directly based on the parts installed, which include the various offensive and defensive EX skills that one might be familiar with in Gundam Breaker 3. Also, those EX skills have to be unlocked each round to be used, which can be frustrating when in the middle of a fight, you’re not able to use some of the abilities your Gunpla would have at its disposal.
New Gundam Breaker also ditches the Diablo style loot grind and leveling system, which in a sense makes it somewhat easier to see what parts need to be collected but takes away the reason to build that special ultimate Gunpla to surpass all others. The reason for this change to its playability mainly leans towards the introduction of the 3v3 PVP game mode. While AI neutral enemies are introduced into the mix, the combat speed isn’t nearly as quick and feels sluggish as movement feels like it take an eternity to move around from one point of the map to the next. There are aggravating moments when the enemy AI will double or triple team you and will often juggle and animation lock your Gunpla, which prevent you from breaking out or recovering, let alone retaliate. The targeting logic for the game doesn’t lend itself much assistance as ranged weapons will often miss on the attempt to spam weapon fire for distant targets. This might be a combination of the camera controls which additionally feel clunky and not at all responsive to dodging attacks. While there were a total of five different difficulties to choose from in the previous installment, New Gundam Breaker features no difficulty adjustment options, thus resulting in a somewhat noticible learning curve.
With a considerable amount of time with New Gundam Breaker, it’s very disappointing to see the condition of the game that we were given. From the numerous performance issues, to gameplay mechanics, the identity crisis of the game being unable to decide if it’s either a dating sim, or a gundam builder, this was supposed to be a big deal for folks in North America and elsewhere. But for the AAA price for this game, we essentially got something that was clearly rushed and was nowhere in the condition that was ready for consumers. With that said, I’m just gonna hold out and avoid the PC port of this version, since it’s doubtful that the core mechanics behind New Gundam Breaker will remain unchanged. It would surprise me if a curveball like Gundam Breaker 4 rolled out for PC as a result of this, but if I’m ever getting the feeling, I’m just gonna boot up Gundam Breaker 3.