SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays, or just simply Cross Rays from here on out, is the latest entry in this long-running tactical RPG series based on the massively popular Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. If by any chance you haven’t heard about Gundam yet, it’s a well known and long running anime series about war where the main weapons used are giant robots called mobile suits, with an emphasis on the story and characters and how war affects them. So famous, in fact, that it basically created its own genre called the Real Robot anime and many have followed in its footsteps. Gundam has spawned multiple series but the common denominator is the titular Gundam robot with it’s iconic design and flashy battles.
As a franchise, Gundam has branched out to other mediums like toys and video games, and with Cross Rays being just one of them, how does the game stand among the rest of the Gundam properties? Let’s find out in this review.
Cross Rays takes four popular Gundam Alternate Universe series and packs them in one game, where you play through each of their individual stories in a more condensed manner. The narration is presented through text and some voice overs over static images, which is your standard fare and is pretty much expected for a game such as this.
You have your choice of either Gundam Wing, Gundam Seed, Gundam 00, or Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans, and the game even includes the side stories from each series like Gundam Wing Endless Waltz and Gundam Seed Stargazer. For newcomers, you’ll be in for some interesting war stories and mecha action but for fans of the alternate universe Gundam stories it’ll be like a reunion once again reliving the stories of famous Gundam characters like Kira Yamato or Setsuna F. Seiei to name a few.
Stories across the series are well told and will appease even hardcore fans, as the faithful retelling is something that really shines for the game. Memorable characters will make an appearance along with their trademark mobile suits, albeit in SD or Super Deformed / Chibi form. For most players, the most recognizable series would be Gundam Wing which features the like of Heero Yuy and his trademark Wing Gundam and Duo Maxwell, pilot of the Deathscythe. You may also want to give Gundam Seed a look as it features the iconic rivals Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala, pilots of the Strike Freedon Gundam and the Infinite Justice respectively.
Back to Basics
Cross Rays is a turn based tactical RPG where you place your units in a grid -- moving, positioning, and attacking enemy units and winning by fulfilling certain conditions, mostly involving defeating all enemy units. Units have Hit Points or HP that drain with each attack, Energy Points or EN that govern attacks, and chances to hit or evade attacks that are shown by percentages on screen. There’s a lot of numbers to cover but the gameplay is pretty basic and is your standard fare of tactical RPG’s where you take turns with the enemy goal of meeting the mission objective before they meet theirs.
If you’ve seen gameplay of the very similar Super Robot Wars series, another popular tactical RPG series in Japan, then you’ve already got an idea of how Cross Rays will play out, with the main difference being its focus on Gundams. There is a sense of depth as you’ll need to manage your units that you obtain, assigning pilots and forming teams that sortie into battle. You may get a tendency to get carried away as compared to the nameless grunts you fight on the field, Gundams have powerful attacks and high evades just like their counterparts in their respective anime series, unless you’re fighting another Gundam. And the game does a good job of translating the Gundams’ characteristics into the game. A few examples being the Buster Gundam from Seed being weak to close range attacks since it’s a long range artillery type, and in contrast the Gundam Exia from 00 being a close range specialist.
One thing about Cross Rays is that you can “scout” certain characters and make them part of your entourage. As you do, these pilots can level up and you may assign them to any MS (or mobile suit) you wish to. Of course it would be tempting to mix and match pilots with any MS but logically speaking, placing someone like Lockon Stratos on a ranged MS (because he’s a Sniper) will be beneficial for you over other MS.
No matter how badass your Gundams and pilots are, poor decisions can still lead to defeat. An interesting concept too is that your actions have an effect in battle. Completely defeating an enemy grants you an extra turn (up to 2 times) which is very useful. If you’re smart enough you can use this extra turn feature to prolong your turn and deal massive losses to the enemy.
Constantly defeating enemies and successfully evading attacks also increases your unit’s morale which increases your attacks, letting you deal critical damage that are high enough to sometimes destroy an enemy mobile suit in 1 move, as long as you can avoid getting hit and the opposite is also true. Meaning getting hit or failing to evade lowers unit morale which also decreases your Gundam’s performance. Perks like these will really motivate you to plan your moves carefully to win.
Aside from the usual “defeat everyone” conditions, the game presents you too with optional objectives like for example, defeat 10 enemies within 3 turns, which rewards you with a bonus after the fight. Don’t expect a walk in the park as the battles can get pretty intense which is just right if you’re looking for a challenge. Luckily, and strangely for that matter, whenever you play certain stories you have the option to sortie Gundams that aren’t from that particular series, choosing from the teams that you’ve formed and managed in between chapters. Having the Phoenix Gundam and Tornado Gundam fight alongside the Strike in the opening chapters of the Gundam Seed story path definitely didn’t happen, but still being able to sortie extra units is a big help.
What we liked:
- Faithful retelling of the Gundam stories featured in the game
- Sounds and voices were retained from each respective Gundam series
- Challenging tactical action and optional win conditions encourage replayability
What we didn’t like:
- Graphics look outdated for a current gen title
- Rest of the music is forgettable
- Nothing new or innovative
Cross Rays is a tricky game to definitively say whether its a must buy or not. For the most part, Cross Rays and its past games are definitely for the hardcore Gundam fan as what’s on the table is exactly what the fans want and will get. The individual Gundam stories are retold faithfully that you can spot certain scenes and dialogue, the voice actors from each series are there delivering their iconic lines, and the battles are presented in fluid 3D animation that shows off how majestic each of them are.
Fanservice though can only get you too far as if you look through all that, the backgrounds and animations are mediocre and they tend to get very repetitive. For a current generation console title, the graphics do look like they could be done from the PS3, and maybe even the generation before that. Music in the game too can’t be considered memorable. Some of the battle themes are forgettable, with the ones that will stick being those that came from certain Gundam series, and there are definitely some tracks there that will be familiar to a Gundam fan.
Overall, Cross Rays is a hard sell to a wide audience. For anyone that is extremely curious about Gundam, it is a safe bet to wait for this to go on sale as mainly the game isn’t bad at all, it just doesn’t do anything very groundbreaking either. Actually if you’re only after the story, better just watch their individual series. This is recommended more to the fans of tactical RPGs and Gundam and definitely if that’s what you’re after Cross Rays won’t disappoint.
*SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher*