Title: Project Nimbus: Complete Edition
Release Date: May 16, 2019
Reviewed On: PS4
Genre: Mech Action
Pretty much everyone wants a pet at some point in their lives. They see a dog or cat and go, “Aww, I want one!” Dogs are considered a man’s best friend, cats are, well, they’re cats, but I’ll tell you what, for me, a mech would be my best friend. Ever since I feasted my eyes upon Chang Wufei’s Shenlong Gundam in Gundam Wing, I knew that I wanted a mech of my own someday. Sadly, the world we live in is kind of far off from having real-life, badass mechs since right now, we’re more concerned about creating AI, human-like cyborgs that will one day take over the world.
Anyway, I digress… thankfully, we can live our mech dreams thanks to games. One of those mech-dreams-becomes-reality games is the GameCrafterTeam developed and GameTomo published fast-paced mech action game Project Nimbus: Complete Edition — the fully-loaded Nintendo Switch version of the previously released Project Nimbus. While Project Nimbus: Complete Edition isn’t quite as completely legendary as, let’s say, the Shenlong Gundam, or big-budget, big-name mech games — due to the game having a few missing parts — ultimately, mech and anime fans will have a good time in Project Nimbus: Complete Edition as they pilot a rad mech and rip and tear through the skies in missions.
Project Nimbus: Complete Edition takes place sometime after the third world war on Earth, a war in which caused the surface of the Earth to be uninhabitable. Since staying on the planet clearly wasn’t an option, most humans are now living up, up, away in floating cities within the skies above. The problem with this, however, is that only rich folks, like political leaders, have the pleasure of living it up in these cities, while the working class is left living on planet Earth. Unsurprisingly, war is still raging on as there’s a fight for liberty and justice for all, and that’s where you come in as you follow three factions, the US-led CFN, the Russia-led UCN, and the terrorist group Children of Fallen, and see everything unfold from the perspectives of pilots who have their own mechs called Battle Frames, which you pilot.
The story in itself really reminds me of a deep, sprawling story found in an Ace Combat game, especially similar to recent Ace Combat titles, like Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, but it’s important to note that the Project Nimbus development team drew inspiration from the Ace Combat series when creating Project Nimbus.
The good thing about the narrative approach in the game is that the player gets a complete picture of the madness that is war, like how cruel and terrible it can be and how it changes those that are stuck in it. You get to find out more about these struggles with the war going on through the means of in-game cinematics and audio logs — but mainly audio logs in which characters share their thoughts on what’s happening around them. These bits are actually nicely done because of the well-written dialogue (however, there are some text errors, here and there), and basically, going through the story is like listening to an NPR StoryCorps podcast.
However, here’s the bad thing with all of this: It can be rather tough to follow what’s going on at certain parts of the story. The real problem is that the first Acts quickly jump from one scene and character to the next. For instance, at the start, you meet Mirai, but then out of nowhere, this other girl comes in from somewhere else, and you’re left wondering, “Wait, what happened to Mirai…?”. With characters being so rapidly thrown in and out all the time, it’s like you need the game’s wiki or something to keep up with the story.
The character audio logs are great, as I mentioned before, but it’s a shame that they, as a whole, don’t tie in well together across each scene in all of the game’s multiple Acts. Just like with its gameplay, the story in Project Nimbus zooms about, and it’s up to you to try to remember every snippet within it — but thankfully, later acts do kind of fill in the blanks that you may have.
Let’s get to what really matters, though, the gameplay, more specifically the combat which is an absolute thrill since it’s so fast-paced, fluid, and fun. Regardless of what mode you’re playing in, whether it’s the Campaign mode, Survival mode, or Warfront mode, Project Nimbus’ missions basically boil down to piloting a mech, taking down enemy mechs, and surviving till the very end to achieve victory. Some curveballs are thrown into missions, like the objective changing from “eliminate all enemies” to “protect this base”, but all in all, the game is all about dashing around in a cool mech, destroying waves of enemies, and just having fun.
What’s also enjoyable about the game is having the ability to pilot several unique, stylish mechs as they each have their own set of awesome weapons. Weapons like the always-satisfying barrage of homing missiles and one of my personal favorites, rapid-fast energy blades that bring me back to the rush I’d get when playing Zone of the Enders. Similar to Zone of the Enders, with Project Nimbus, some mechs are obviously more rad than others, but no matter what mech you’re in, you’ll have fun, trust me.
Being in a mech would be no fun without great combat, and thankfully, this game doesn’t disappoint at all on that front. Project Nimbus‘ high-speed and flashy combat, which feels so satisfying once you get a hang of it, successfully lets you experience all the thrills and joys of mech action that you’ve dreamed of, which is really what all players will love.
With that said, just a quick warning: While the difficulty can be adjusted (there are three difficulty levels), keep in mind the harder difficulties can actually be insanely, mech-crushingly difficult, I seriously mean it. Trying to play the beginning Warfront mode missions on the “Prepare to Die” difficulty with the scrub, garbage can, novice mech you have at first is just a totally bad idea, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Another thing to know is that the locations you’ll be battling in are, unfortunately, a bit lackluster and boring. Each location essentially is a wide, open space, which has bits and pieces of environments below that are more just for show than anything else. A handful of times, you’ll be fighting in more closed-corridor spaces that are pretty neat, but overall, the level designs themselves aren’t anything to get excited about. On the bright side, I suppose the designs work out in your favor since it means fewer obstacles to worry about, so you can just focus on doing what you want to do — be a badass mech pilot.
Being the best badass mech pilot ever is even more possible thanks to the two new modes, the enhanced Survival mode, and the new Warfront mode, which have never been released before in the west but are now included in the Switch version of Project Nimbus for players to enjoy. The Survival mode, as you can guess, has never-ending waves of enemies, and it’s up to you to take them down to survive. The Warfront mode, on the other hand, further builds on the survival gameplay formula but throws multiple objectives and missions in the mix, leading players to have to make tactical decisions as you rise through the ranks. I found both modes to be fun for their own reasons: Survival mode is simple goodness since it lets you choose any mech you want and go wild, whereas the Warfront mode is satisfying and rewarding since you have to start from the bottom and work your way up — almost having like an RPG-esque feel to it.
Ultimately, most players will come to find that the Warfront mode is the clear winner out of the two since it offers massive replayability, different mission types, like Assassination, the ability to unlock mechs, and a bit of mech customization. On the topic of customization, it’s rather limited since you can’t customize things like colors and parts, but it is still nice to upgrade some elements, such as armor capacity and firerate, to make missions not be as tough to complete.
While the lack of customization is a bummer, what’s surprisingly good is how the game looks. The designs for the mechs are awesome in their own ways, and they completely stand out. It’s hard to pick a favorite mech design, but if I had to choose, I’d say the GCTXX Akarui Mirai is my personal favorite — it’s like if Zone of the Ender’s Jehuty and Anubis had a baby, it’d be GCTXX Akarui Mirai. Animations are also well done as they flow so well, and the UI is stylish, but the lighting effects can be a bit distracting at times. However, even though the game can get so crazy with so much going on, the framerate is really consistent to the point that I never noticed it dropping once for the Switch version of Project Nimbus, regardless if I was playing via handheld mode or in docked mode, which is pretty impressive.
I should also add that the music, along with the English and Japanese voiceover audio in the game is excellent. The voice actors all did an outstanding job with every line of dialogue and completely made the characters come to life — making it easier for me to connect with the characters.
What will really capture the attention of players with Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is undoubtedly its intense and high-speed gameplay. There is quite a bit of repetitiveness to get through, but that doesn’t really matter too much when you’re dashing, slashing, and blasting through armies of enemies with a rad mech. With it’s addictive and fun mech action combat, awesome mechs, and multi-narrative storytelling, Project Nimbus is a Gundam and Ace Combat hybrid that mech and anime fans should check out.
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