Sixty years before the beginning of MS Saga: A New Dawn, a cataclysmic event known as the Great Fall wiped out roughly ninety percent of the Earth's population. It also destroyed a good deal of technology, though the remnants have begun to resurface. The game's hero, a boy by the name of Tristan, witnesses the destructive power of giant robots known as Mobile Suits firsthand when the orphanage he was staying at was destroyed. Though his life was spared, he decided to embark upon a quest for revenge along with his friend Fritz. One of his first tasks was to obtain a Mobile Suit of his own. Once that was accomplished, his true fight begun.
"MS Saga: A New Dawn looks like it might just shape up to be a pretty decent choice for Gundam fans."
MS Saga: A New Dawn's battle system is of simple turn-based format, but there is a good deal of room for customization as well. For example, rather than having equipment slots like in most RPGs, each Mobile Suit has a grid that items are placed on, each with a different size and shape. By playing around with the configuration, it becomes possible to equip multiple subweapons that can be chosen amongst at will. Melee weapons are generally quite powerful and consume little energy, but they have the downside of welcoming enemy counter-attacks should the target have the ability to do so. Long range weapons are weaker, but they are also safer. It's up to the player to decide which style they pursue.
Of course, there are plenty of items and skills to choose from as well. Skills are divided into two categories: boost attacks and techniques. Boost attacks can only be activated when a Mobile Suit's energy reserve has reached a high value and are generally very powerful offensive actions. Techniques, on the other hand, depend only on the pilot's TP and have a wider range of effects including healing. In order to add a few additional elements of strategy to battles, the heroes may also use turns to converse energy and reduce damage by defending or charge a great deal of energy at once.
The game's interface is very simple and surprisingly few buttons are used, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Beginners can quickly learn all of the game's commands and experts can program the unused buttons to be shortcut keys for defending, charging, etc. There are a few strange glitches here and there, but that isn't too surprising for a prerelease version. Hopefully all of the rough edges will be ironed out in the final version. If it's any consolation, the localization seems to be coming along rather nicely.
Aesthetically speaking, MS Saga: A New Dawn is pretty good, though it doesn't exactly wow the player. The visual style is simple, but quick and well-animated for the most part. It most closely resembles that of SD Gundam, especially with the exaggerated proportions of the Mobile Suits. The soundtrack is also pretty decent and, though somewhat rare at this point in production, some scenes have voice acting.
Probably the weakest part of the game, at least early on, is the story. It's very simple and light-hearted, despite the surprisingly strong theme of revenge. It appears to be aimed more toward the younger Gundam fans rather than at those that prefer the more serious iterations. This may change as the game progresses though.
Though it starts out rather slowly, MS Saga: A New Dawn looks like it might just shape up to be a pretty decent choice for Gundam fans. It's coming out next month, so be sure to look to RPGamer for last minute details and a full review as the release date approaches.