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Developer: A+ Games Publisher: Arc System Works Platform: PlayStation Vita Release Date: March 24, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen Have you ever wanted to pilot a giant robot? Woah, okay—that was a dumb question. So when you are reminded of your own unearthly longing for piloting a giant robot, what is it about that experience that you like the most? Is it tons of ordinance? Is a fast, nimble mech with a sword that can cut down swaths of enemies more your thing? Do laser canons get you all hot and bothered? Well I have good news everyone. In Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo, a downloadable title from Arc System Works (best known for the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fighting games), allows you to pick and choose from a variety of customizable robot parts and smash any robot that stands between you and...whatever it is you want in that game. Well, spoiler alert—despite this thing being about super awesome mechs called GEARs, this isn“t actually a prequel to Guilty Gear. Sad, I know. And honestly I might have been okay with that fact if there had been an interesting story to replace it but there really isn“t. There are some super angry robots out there and it“s your job to disassemble them like the angry robots from Short Circuit. Okay, that“s a bad comparison because that movie had some decently interesting characters where as Damascus Gear unfortunately does not. The other pilots you encounter are flatter (personality-wise) than day-old root beer, and most of them make no sense to boot. The operator Mirai, spends the first couple missions putting various speech affectations after your name just before admitting, â€œThat really doesn“t go there, does it?â€ But after that, she never does it again; I assumed it would be a running gag (one that I didn“t understand in the least), but it“s discarded before you can finish scratching your head. I wish I could say that this was clever satire. Which brings us to another problem. The localization is dry, but functional, aside from a couple odd factors. For one, the text seems very close together, and since there is no English language voice option (though there is really no full voice option at all), you“re going to have to do some reading that is made more difficult by text that seems to run together. Another odd factor, albeit one that doesn“t really bother me so much is the fact that (like in most Japanese games on Sony platforms) the â€œXâ€ button is used to cancel and the â€œOâ€ button is used to confirm. It takes some getting used to, and there are plenty of other games that also do this (especially in the Metal Gear franchise) but it can throw you for a loop for a bit. So what about the game? Well if you“ve ever played an Armored Core game you“ll know what you“re getting into mostly, but if you haven“t, here“s the skinny. You“ve got a big honkin“ robot and the parts of said robot changes all sorts of stuff about it. You can change the weapons (with a maximum of three equipped at once), the head, shoulders, body, arms, and legs. Customize your robot and you can take it from a big fat slow robot that can“t even pick up a soccer ball, to a lean mean fighting machine with super robot fist action. Obvious Big Hero 6 reference aside, since you don“t â€œlevel upâ€, upgrading your GEAR will be what helps you climb the ranks from lowly D-rank â€œShinjiâ€ to a crazy â€œHiro Yuiâ€ S-rank badass while you navigate top-down levels crawling with RAGE baddies. There are plenty of parts to choose from as you progress through the game, so you can make a heavy walking tank with high output and huge freakin“ guns or a light and maneuverable mech with laser swords to anything in between. Basically, the customization and variety of parts is the best part of the game itself, allowing players to create a mech that best reflects their play-style. You can even paint the thing different colors for added personality. But the crux is you“re going to have to play to get the parts that will really turn your GEAR into a crazy robot death machine. And while the game isn“t as technical or in-depth as other mech games (cause really, who can match Steel Battalion?) it is accessible to more than people who“ve watched every Gundam series. Honestly, despite the numerous flaws I“ve mentioned, and even a few that I haven“t (super repetitive environments), the fact remains that Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo is a $15 title and not a full blown $60 retail game that might weigh a lot of these criticisms far more. Taking price into consideration, the game still isn“t amazing, but it is accessible and fun, even if it is still quite lacking in story or interesting characters. It isn“t going to redefine the mech genre—and it“s far from perfect—but it“s worth a try, if for no other reason than who even knows when the next Zone of Enders game is coming. Pros: + Plenty of parts to customize your GEAR + Textures and visuals show lots of polish Cons: - Nonexistent plot and characterization - Repetitive environments - Localization quirks Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Damascus Gear: Operation Tokyo won“t turn heads, but it has enough robot shenanigans to keep players entertained. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher