by Michael Moore
Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space is completely about space fighting, something that they never did well in past Gundam games, which were mostly about fighting on ground. Luckily they learned from the problems with the space battles in the old game and fixed it in this one.
There are a couple ways to play the game. There are two big story modes called White base and Thoroughbred. In White base you follow the story of the White base, and Amuro Ray. The story picks up about mid way through the original Gundam anime. You follow the story by fighting certain major battles, and moments from the series. After completing the level you watch anime cut scenes that try to tie the story together. It certainly helps to know the original Gundam story to understand better.
Thoroughbred on the other hand follows the story of another ship during the One Year War from the original Gundam series. The story here is original but lacks the cool anime cut scenes that White base has. Enemies in Thoroughbred are much harder then the ones in White base, I suspect they meant White base to be easy mode and Thoroughbred to be hard.
There is also the Ace Pilot mode, where you follow the stories of other pilots from other Gundam series’. This mode is probably my favorite of all of them since it lets you play with people other then the ones from the original series, and lets you use the mobile suits and Gundams that they used. I’m happy to see them using people from outside the original series since the last couple Gundam games have been all followed the original series, which is good but dated, so you never got to play with the newer and cooler Gundams that have appeared in more recent incarnations of the anime.
The game itself has more then 70 suits, but only six come from Gundam series’ outside of the Universal Century timeline (ie: Mobile Suit Gundam, 0083: Stardust Memory, 0080: War in the Pocket, Gundam Z, etc.) Of the six non-UC suits, two are from G Gundam, two from Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, and two from Gundam SEED. Unfortunately these suits are only available in the Vs mode of the game, which is ok, but it would have been cooler to use them in other parts as well.
The controls for the game are specifically designed for the space combat nature of the game. There is the typical primary and secondary fire, close range attack, lock-on, lock off, and booster. My only complaint with the controls is that the lock on doesn’t always lock onto what you need it to. Many a time in the story modes I had to destroy a specific thing that was right in front of me, only to hit lock on and have it spin me around 180 to attack an enemy behind me. Also sometimes you want to lock onto something that is attacking you, only to lock onto something else. That happens less often, but when it does it can be pretty annoying.
Graphical the game doesn’t look much better then the last one, but in some of the space battles, when you see a huge armada of ships shooting at another huge armada, and stuff is blowing up everywhere, you get pretty aw struck. The sound is really good. They managed to get most of the original voice actors for the characters, which really helps it feel like the anime. The music also helps get you into the fast paced nature of the game, except of course the J-Pop music that is played in a few levels, but that only helps it feel more like your actually taking part in the anime.
Overall this game is really for the Gundam fan, who will play the game and be able to pick out all the characters, and enjoy playing in different characters custom suits. The average player probably wouldn’t enjoy it, I’d recommend for them to maybe rent it and see how you like it. The game can get rather monotonous at times, since you end up fighting almost endless waves of enemies level after level after level. But like I said, Gundam fans will definitely enjoy fighting through a lot of the important battles different series’ and piloting the different suits.