If you've been visiting TOV for a while, then you might know that I'm not a MMO guy. I think it's a lack of story and way too much dungeon crawling/level grinding that makes me want to just thrown the disc out the window. Not that MMO's don't have any story, but I find that the way they're put together doesn't feel like a narrative experience that I've come to expect with my games. So what happens when you try to marry a MMO and a more traditional RPG story? You get Gods Eater Burst for the PSP.
Gods Eater Burst comes to us from Bandai Namco and published state side by D3 Publishing. The plot definitely sounds like something straight out of a JRPG: "Gods" known as Aragami have come from somewhere and have wiped out the majority of humanity. It's up to you and a handful of reaming warriors known as God Eaters to destroy the Aragami and save the world.
If you've played any Capcom's Monster Hunter series, you should know what to expect in terms of game play; you and, in this case 3 other characters versus giant monsters. Your character is a "New Type God Eater" whose weapon can switch from being a giant sword, to a giant blade, to a giant shield. There is only one other character that has that ability, everyone else is either a melee or ranged fighter.
Game play is fast and smooth for the most part. There are some times where I would have characters do things fast, like put up your shield, but for the most part it's pretty fluid. One thing that makes the game frenetic is the speed of the enemies. If they're not rooted to one position, then chances are they can move faster than you. This makes fighting interesting in the fact that you have to decide whether to dodge or block attacks.
The fighting is broken up into missions, each one given a time limit of 30 minutes. Usually if you have 3 others in your party, then the time limit isn't an issue no matter what the mission is. However, there are missions that pit you against the same enemies, but with only 1 other person on your team. Not fun. One of my main gripes with the battle system is that there is virtually no way to tell how close you are to killing an enemy. All enemies have no visible health bar. Sure, parts of larger Aragami break off after sustaining heavy damage and they get "enraged", but that's it. You just keep hacking and shooting relentlessly in the hopes that they die quickly.
Speaking of dying quickly, you'd be surprised at how fast you can die in this game, especially when facing larger enemies. It only takes 3 or 4 direct hits and you're face down on the ground. Thankfully, that doesn't mean game over. You can wait 30 secs to respawn at the mission's start point with full health and ammo or your teammates can bring you back right there. You get only 2 respawns per mission and lose items that are promised to you if you do complete the mission. If you get brought back by a teammate, then you get half of the energy they had and continue the fight. Sometimes, that's barely a sliver and other times it's half a life bar. You can get brought back by your teammates as many times as you need to finish the mission without penalty.
The biggest problem with the game play is the camera, which is completely player controlled and independent of the character. This makes it very awkward to play at first. I ended up playing with only the sword because that offers a lock-on that let's you worry about fighting rather than the camera. If you play as a gunner, then you're SOL as you'll be hitting the L button to reset the camera behind you A LOT.
My biggest gripe with Gods Eater Burst is the one thing that I was looking forward to the most- the story. Well, actually, my problem is with how the story is implemented to the gameplay - or the lack there of.
First off, once you turn the game on, you're thrown into missions within minutes and with no explanation of controls or game mechanics; it's all trial by fire, which is fine for a mission or two before getting a tutorial of how to play. But no, you then have to play the next 4 HOURS just grinding through missions before the story really picks up. 4 fucking hours before the plot even begins is not how I want to start any game.
Then there's the fact that the story and missions are completely disjointed from each other. The missions are just "go here and kill this random grouping of monsters and we'll give you a cut scene when you come back". The cut scenes do tell a compelling story, but you have to remember what happened in the previous scene to know what's going on.
Another WTF instance is the fact that when creating a character, you get to choose their in game voice. They'll spit one-liners and make noises during battle. But if they have voices, why don't they speak during any of the cut scenes? Your character just nods and uses body language to communicate during the story. It might not ( or it might) sound like a lot, but imagine playing something like Mass Effect, but Shepard only spoke during play and never during cut scenes, even when being directly spoken to. See how awkward that sounds now.
The music is okay. I really like the opening and was shocked that it was Dubstep; definitely not what I expected to hear in a Japanese video game, but also a welcomed surprise. The rest of the music is "meh". Each mission starts off with some triumphant bit and then dies out and turns into this really haunting set of sounds until you find an enemy and the battle music starts. It's pretty forgettable and I would describe it better, but I actually do forget what it sounds like.
Gods Eater Burst is an alright game. If you're a Monster Hunter fan or just need something that you can play without having to think about, like rhythm games, then this could be for you. As far as I'm concerned, this would have made a better anime show. That said, Gods Eater Burst gets a 3 out of 5 TOV stars.