Score: 7.5 / 10
some inexplicable reason, while playing Gungrave I couldn’t help but
think about old “shooter” games like Zaxxon and Galaga despite the
fact that Gungrave isn’t set in space and there were no aliens to be
Gungrave is a 3rd Person shooter (camera is usually right behind the title character) where you control the destructive Grave on a revenge tour against the mafia, his former employer. But that’s not all; Grave is undead and carries his rather destructive coffin along with him that helps by providing heavy support during intense gunfights.
all of the battles, Grave’s primary weapons are the twin pistols
(think portable cannons) called Cerberos and provide many minutes of
enjoyment when you first discover the joy of the destructible
surroundings. As your proficiency in killing enemies develops, you’ll
earn beat points which give you “demolition shots” – which are
stylized ways of killing people with a flourish (but DON’T MISS or
you’re screwed as you are momentarily more open than Kansas). The
initial demolition shot is the Death Blow (a rocket fired from your
coffin), but as you progress you can learn different techniques like the
Bullet Dance, Hellhound Roar, Raging Inferno, and the well named Recover
Life Now. (I’m hoping that last one had a cool name in Japan because
it really blows in North America).
Grave’s second lease on life is courtesy of the enigmatic Dr. T, who resurrected him, and serves as a confidant and sounding board. For the course of the game he pretty much serves no purpose greater than giving you a basic spiel on your next mission. Yup, that’s it – another brilliant scientist reduced to a support role… sigh...
Grave is brought back into action at the request of Mika, a young girl who is the daughter of the former head of the mafia (and Grave’s old boss in the organization). Blah, blah, blah…
plot… the mission-opening
phrase says it all “Kick their Ass!”
If you can’t figure out what kind of game you’re getting into
with that catchphrase, there’s nothing I can do for you.
game is decidedly “anime” in style – besides the character design,
that looks like a cross between Vash the Stampede and Wolfwood in Trigun,
all of the dialogue is in Japanese and is subtitled. (WOOHOO! EAT THAT,
DUBBERS! SUBTITLES RULE ALL!)
The look of the game is spectacular – all of the graphics are cell-shaded and when paired with the lighting and other visual effects (like fog) you end up with a game that just oozes style. No matter how good everything looks though, most gamers will be inexplicably driven towards blowing the environments into base components or at least smaller particles – it says something about our society.
sound is really good; besides all of the usual sound effects sounding
authentic, the soundtrack features some aggressive bass thumping that
helps maintain Gungrave’s overall style.
complaints of Gungrave fall to the usual culprits: difficulty and camera
difficulty is laughable at times. For the most part you can wade into
and out of a gunfight unscathed if you know the patterns of where the
enemies come from; or if you don’t know, just saturate the entire area
in gunfire – that works too. The boss battles are even more
disappointing. They follow the most basic of patterns not seen since the
days of Colecovision and NES and in this day and age that’s not going
to stump anyone playing an “M” rated game. With unlimited continues
and the same patterns for the enemy AI and their appearances, Gungrave
shouldn’t take more than 3-4 hours to blow through for brute force
understand the camera display, you have to understand how Grave moves
– he’s about as fast as a unionized piano mover with a load. I guess
that it fits with the character – a reanimated dead guy carrying his
own coffin wouldn’t exactly break any speed records, so you can forget
dodging shots for the most part. The only quick move that can be
performed in Gungrave is the rolling jump to either side that will
invariably leave the camera in some weird position so that you can tell
that you’re being shot repeatedly but you can’t see a damn thing.
(Multiply this problem by a hundred if you hit something when you roll
and considering that most of the levels are downright claustrophobic in
places, prepare to be annoyed).
in all, Gungrave is a fun pick-up-and-play shooter that really could
have used more difficulty, some camera tweaks and a more original plot.
Gungrave is recommended for those looking to waste a few hours without
burning brain cells.
(December 5, 2002)
"Drinking and smoking go together like porn and nachos."
- Pickles (The Oblongs)
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