Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Never Ending Tomorrow Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 6.5
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 7.1
Review by Andy Levine
Bandai is back with yet another release to satisfy the needs of anime fans everywhere. In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Never Ending Tomorrow over 50 different playable suits can be utilized throughout a variety of 3D battles taking place both on land and in outer space. Consisting of over 40 minutes of actual footage from the TV show—as well a host of other weapons and attacks that dedicated viewers will recognize—Never Ending Tomorrow is clearly a game designed with Gundam fans in mind. If you don’t fall into this fanbase category you may want to look for your anime gaming kicks elsewhere, though that’s not to say that Never Ending Tomorrow is inaccessible for the uninitiated.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Never Ending Tomorrow contains 4 core game modes including a story mode, a mission-based campaign mode, a frantic survival mode, and of course a two-player vs. mode. The story mode allows the gamer to play as either Kira Yamato of the Earth Alliance, or Athrun Zala of the ZAFT forces. Each campaign is supported with 15 missions and some cartoon footage, but if you aren’t too familiar with the Gundam phenomenon then the story might fly right over your head. Nonetheless, it is still possible to squeeze some enjoyment out of this title due to its unique battle system. The mission mode allows you to select from a handful of characters in order to complete some generic objectives. The best aspect of this option is that each suit retains its own unique set of weaponry and booster configurations, allowing the game to feel fresh thanks to the diversity. As implied, the survival mode is a traditional battle mode where a seemingly endless wave of suits will challenge your almighty Gundam. In addition, there is an item shop where unlockables, such as new characters and suits, can be purchased. Other hidden items can be viewed via the gallery, but unless you’re a true fan of Gundam you probably won’t be in a position to appreciate this feature. The game modes in Never Ending Tomorrow are fairly basic, but the gameplay style itself is what will attract anime gamers.

The in-game combat mechanics are a little uncontrollable and, unless you’ve played a Gundam game before, it will probably be somewhat difficult to simply jump right in and play. First and foremost, getting a good feel for the thruster accessories on each suit will help you manage to keep the robot aloft and intact. As the name suggests, boosters allow the player to quickly juke from side to side in order to avoid incoming attacks. As always, the boosters can also be used for flying around the map to confuse enemies. Unfortunately, controlling any of these robotic suits is not quite as easy as one would hope, instead requiring considerable finesse in order to compensate for the control problems. You can lock-on to opponents by moving the oversized crosshairs, yet once a lock is achieved the camera becomes harder to control than ever as it constantly whirrs around in a calamitous attempt to keep both on-screen combatants viewable simultaneously. After such dramatic and disorienting camera movement it can become difficult to determine which character you are controlling. Once everything is finally clear in terms of who’s shooting whom, an assortment of close-range, long-range, and special attacks can be performed—depending on which suit you are in. While slashing foes with a giant sword is entertaining to witness, it’s recommended that a more conservative battle approach is taken should you plan on progressing past the first few levels. Battles usually consist of a few short attack bursts followed by some boosting around the map before the next attack wave begins. In addition, a special booster button can be used to receive some type of special benefit from an ally, such as health regeneration.

The space battles are much like the ground battles, except the flying aspect is slightly different. Instead of having the option to boost across the ground or fly around for a while, the clashes in space are strictly aerial battles only. Again, the control scheme here is a little clunky, and maneuvering is even harder than on land, but once you become familiarized with all of the buttons you can really start to have fun. From looping around enemy aircraft and boosting clear of incoming missiles, the space missions would have much to offer if they didn’t take so long to figure out. If you have played a Gundam title in the past then you should feel right at home, but if you haven’t you can expect to go on a long and arduous quest to determine the function of each button. All learning curves aside, the combat is fast paced right from the start but, even with the vast array of characters to choose from, the game itself feels repetitive toward the latter part of the campaign. You can only fly, boost, and shoot at so many targets before things become tedious, and once you develop a sense of understanding for the AI strategy then dodging attacks comes almost naturally.

The two-player vs. mode is a nice touch if a willing friend is in the vicinity, but the lack of online support is disappointing. The two-player action on show here is a lot more unpredictable than in the single-player mode, but players can often become embroiled in jumping and boosting around the map and attacking sparsely—promoting some unnecessarily lengthy confrontations. Despite its flaws, any Gundam fan will still have a blast with Never Ending Tomorrow, and any other anime or mech-warrior lover can still have a great time with this battling adventure. For the rest of us, though, the burdensome maneuverability and camera issues coupled with a battle system that could certainly use a few user-friendly adjustments probably means money down on a rental rather than a purchase.

The overall presentation value of the gameplay is average by today’s standards, but little touches such as the CGI television clips give Never Ending Tomorrow an authentic anime feel. The character models have a nicely detailed look, and if it weren’t for all the rough edges they would be top notch. The environments avoid being bland for the most part, but the fast-paced battles more than make up for any uninspiring level design anyway. The best visual aspects of Never Ending Tomorrow are clearly found in the vibrantly colored weapon effects, which truly make the game spring to life. As a treat for hardcore Gundam fans, the movie clips are presented in the same quality you would expect from the TV show, and they really help those who decide to follow the game’s story to gather a better understanding for their purpose as a fighter. The audio effects are a little on the quiet side and are far from bone rattling in execution, but they still manage to satisfactorily complement the gameplay. The clanking of the heavy machinery, blasting of various machine guns and missiles, and the yelling of the pilots, all work together to make the battle scenes feel frantic and immediate. Aside from some bland visuals and repetitive sound effects, the presentation delivered in Never Ending Tomorrow is certainly enough to satisfy any gamer’s quality demands.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed: Never Ending Tomorrow is a perfectly adequate Gundam title that will clearly live up to fan expectations. While newcomers to the series should expect to initially struggle with a slightly shoddy control scheme and overall camera confusion amid the heat of battle, veteran Gundam gamers should see it all as par for the course. The amount of unlockable content and variety of different controllable suits makes this a worthy addition to any dedicated Gundam collection, but unfortunately it still doesn’t perform well enough to draw mainstream gamers toward the realms of the anime fanatic.