Gundam is a bit like a Japanese version of Star Trek: It's an epic sci-fi fantasy series with multiple spin-offs and games (some of which fans don't like to talk about), a massive fan base, a gargantuan library of technical information, and it all came from an original series that was canceled during its initial run.
Now, with their latest Gundam-based game for the PS3, Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation, it's hard to tell if Namco Bandai is being supremely generous or reeeealy sneaky.
Battle Operation is and online giant robot battle game in which up to 12 people divided into two factions (Federation or Zeon) can combat each other on various terrains and in various vehicles, giant robots, better known as Mobile Suits (Mobile Space Utility Instrument Tactical to you Gundam fanatics out there), or even on foot. While running around on foot against an 59-foot robot seems a little unfair, there are tactical advantages to braving the field au natural. Foot soldiers cannot be picked up on radar, can repair damaged Mobile Suits, can steal enemy Mobile Suits, and are more effective at capturing or destroying enemy bases and respawn points. Of course, Mobile Suits are the main ride of choice and are divided into three categories to suit (see what I did there?) player preferences and situations: Close-quarter, multi-purpose and long-range support. Players start out with the most basic Mobile Suits, but through combat can collect blueprints for other types to develop. Match victories are determined by the scores of each faction. Points are earned that can used to develop or upgrade Mobile Suits, vehicles or weapons.
The game is currently available on the Japanese Playstation Store for free.
Basic play is free and players can collect every Mobile Suit without paying anything. There is, however, a catch. (And with Namco Bandai, there is always a catch)