Namco-Bandai has largely pleased fans with its adaptations of the Mobile Suit Gundam series, despite harsh critical reviews. Much like any series, eager followers are eager to absorb new content regardless of its quality. With each new Mobile Suit Gundam game comes acceptance from fans and rejection by reviewers. For the first time, both groups can come together in agreement: Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire is a bad game. Not only is it characteristic of the lackluster nature of many console launch titles, but it bears all of the qualities of a poorly made game. Fans should be bothered by how effortlessly Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire tramples on the series with its bland presentation, lack of options, and banal gameplay.
Crossfire takes place nine months after Zeon forces have invaded Earth. As a last push, Earth Federation has amassed a military force to counter the Zeon invasion. Exactly what is occurring between Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon is somewhat nebulous, as the game doesn’t really provide much information beyond stating that the two factions are at war. Crossfire assumes that you have intimate knowledge of the series, which can be bothersome if you intend to play casually. You can play as either side, guiding a customized mobile suit into battle in the hopes of beating back the enemy. Gameplay is organized into missions that can be selected from a world map. Each federation has a slate of about twenty-five missions, of which nearly all are the same for both sides just played from different perspective.
The game exists on a turn-based timeline in which repairs and missions require a set number of days to complete. Each passing day unlocks new content, as well as closes off previously available missions. Once December 31 rolls around or you complete the final battle, the campaign ends. You’ll miss a lot of optional missions in a single run through the campaign due to the limiting nature of the timeline, but considering how uninspiring the actually missions are, you won’t be too heartbroken. Missions almost exclusively task you with destroying all enemies on the map. Occasionally, the game throws in an escort or defensive mission, but even these boil down to taking out any enemies that appear. The lack of variety is detrimental, as you’ll feel like you’re slogging through mission after mission of repetitive combat
It isn’t that Crossfire is a bad game solely because it doesn’t offer any variety in its missions; rather the game is unenjoyable because the combat is so underwhelming. The foundations of a good mechanized action game are here with a shell of a customization system and a handful of attack types. Pressing the square button enables you to fire your mobile suit’s main gun, with R1 firing a secondary gun if equipped. Melee attacks can be triggered with the triangle button and special weapons, when equipped, are used with circle. You can zoom in for sniping with a press of R2, but the camera is so erratic in this mode that you’ll probably want to avoid it. The camera literally moves on its own at times making sniping impossible. When you are able to set the Sixaxis on a table, back away, and the camera continues to move without your input, you know the game has serious problems.
Being able to actually attack enemies would be nice, but given the limitations of the maps and inconsistent enemy intelligence you often don’t get the opportunity. Each mission occurs within a rectangular map with invisible edges, which become a huge annoyance when you chase down an enemy and are halted by an unseen wall. Enemies can still attack you, even though you’re unable to retaliate. Of course, you could be fortunate to encounter one of the game’s many enemies that simply stand around and wait to be shot. Crossfire possesses wildly inconsistent enemy intelligence that ranges from dead-on accurate to dead-boring complacent. When you are able to confront enemies, it’s over pretty quickly. It is completely unsatisfying to watch enemy mobiles suits go down in a couple hits.
When you are finally able to take out enemies and complete a mission, you’ll receive reward points to buy new mobile suits, pilots, and upgrades. Some missions allow up to two mobile suits as support, so it can be helpful to purchase additional suits and pair them with pilots. Supporting mobile suits are surprisingly intelligence during missions and will effectively take out enemies on your behalf. Spending your reward points on your subordinates is wise, especially considering that upgrades for your own suit are pretty limited. Compared with other mechanized action games, Crossfire offers little customization. You can equip a few different weapons, but beyond this there’s really not much in the way of development. Even series fans should be disappointed in the lack of customization since it leaves the game feeling remarkably shallow.
Almost everything about Crossfire is substandard and shallow, including the presentation. Environments are extraordinarily barren and show little variety in terrain; of course, you can’t even see most of the mission maps since they’re usually covered in thick fog. At least the mobile suits look good, but since you can’t customize them with different parts, colors, or logos they aren’t that much fun to look at. Looking back at the target videos shown along the official announcement for PlayStation 3, you can’t help but wonder where Crossfire went so wrong.
As a PlayStation 3 launch title, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire not only looks bad, it also plays pretty poorly too. Fans of the series should be upset with how haphazardly Namco-Bandai threw this game together. If you can somehow bear the frustrating controls, bland missions, and lack of customization depth, perhaps Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire has something in store for you.
- Overall: 3.5
- About the only thing that saves Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire is the fact that it actually runs on PlayStation 3 hardware. Aside from that, there is little reason to play this poorly designed, lackluster, shallow excuse for a game. Series fans should be outraged at this desecration of the Mobile Suit Gundam name.
— Tracy Erickson