Call Me a Sucker
Licensed games: the bane of video gamers everywhere. They've gained a notorious reputation for a reason. Superman 64. Iron Man 2. Spider-Man 3. E.T on the Atari. These games and more have been deemed quick cash-ins for minimal effort. That's not to diminish the people who have to work on them, but given the constraints many of them work in they don't have much to work with.
The Gundam franchise has largely spared American audiences from its games because most of the shows never made it across the ocean. While some games have started to come to America, they've either been focused on more recent shows like SEED Destiny or a massive franchise crossover like the Dynasty Warrior Gundam games. This is neither of those, instead focusing on the original show. The only reason most people are aware of it is that it was a launch title for the Playstation 3.
There's a bare-bones plot to play through in Gundam: Crossfire, but you'll only appreciate it if you're intimately familiar with the show. I say appreciate because you get even less of a plot connecting your missions. You can play as either the Earth Federation or the Principality of Zeon in the closing months of the original show.
The core conceit behind the game is that you don't get to pilot the titular Gundam. You're instead piloting the various suits that the soldiers used to fight the war. So instead of roaring through the game and slicing through everything like many Gundam games, you're forced to play tactically and carefully. It's more like an Armored Core game, but slower.
There's less of a difficulty curve and more of a brick wall. The tutorial mission provides no instruction for the wonky controls, meaning you can easily get shot and destroyed three or four times before you bust through it. This isn't helped by the fact that many of the suits in the game have a hard time tanking damage, and will fall apart from a stiff wind. While this is accurate to the show, it makes for a difficult game.
If you can keep plugging away at the game long enough to get a grasp of the controls, you finally start getting some satisfaction in the form of 'I blew those guys away' and better suits (the Gundam can be unlocked given enough time). That's really the question though- if.
What doesn't help is that the game fails on a technical level. Crossfire relies on the power of the PS3 to render realistic models of the suits you'll be using. But there's a lot of fog in the game, something that hasn't been a practical issue for games since the Nintendo 64 pre-Expansion Pak. There are also a number of bugs in the game- at several points the sound cut out completely and only played in spurts until the system was rebooted, which is a shame because the music is surprisingly epic and the sound effects are faithful to the show (just expect laughable voice work). The system hardlocked at three different points during missions, and the missions themselves glitched into a neverending state at least twice.
This game was trashed at release, and rightfully so considering it was being sold for full price. But the game is now in used game bins for a fraction of that. If you can find it on the cheap, you might find a diamond in the rough. But if you don't have any patience, steer clear.