Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review #401: Gungrave

 Ain't no rest for the wicked.
 Let's be honest, you've never ever heard of Gungrave, have you? A precious little gem in the rough that somehow managed to earn itself an Anime series as well as a much improved sequel. This game mixes Devil May Cry's focus on style with third person shooting and Trigun's Nightow's fantastic art.

 There's not much to the plot, and what little plot there is is there for Beyond the Grave, our hero, to rediscover, as he is suffering from amnesia, a secondary effect from his revival. A mute zombie with a mission, that he is, as he tries to protect Mika, the daughter of the previous big honcho of The Syndicate, who wants her. It's not a particularly interesting plot, but what it lacks in substance it makes up in style. Everything in the game looks cool, the hero, the main villains as well as the cell-shaded graphics slapped with saturated black for shadows, not unlike an american comic book. It makes for quite the treat to watch.
 You will learn to love that square button, as you'll be mashing and smashing it all the way through the end in order to shoot your main means of offence, your twin guns. You can dive sideways, backwards or forwards by pressing X, use the giant coffin Beyond the Grave carries on his back as a melee attack by tapping R1 and triangle to use your special demolition shots. Grave can't take all that much punishment, but he has a regenerating shield that recharges after avoiding taking damage for a very little while, but you're encouraged to keep on getting in the middle of shoot-outs in order to build your combo gauge and amass Demolition Shots. It's a fun, simple, maybe even brain-dead game, but it will take the toll on your thumb thanks to all that square button-pressing.

 But as fun as the game is, it does come with a few little flaws, most which were fixed in the sequel. Controls are fairly sluggish and Beyond moves like, well, a zombie, which may take a little while getting used to, and the camera is sub-optimal, so don't be surprised if you find yourself not know at what you're shooting at since the camera hasn't turned the corner, unlike you... or maybe the game's short draw-distance is hiding enemies away, who knows! Regardless, as well as enemies you'll be fighting slowdown too when it gets too crowded. And while you have four different Demolition Shots available, you can only switch among them by pausing the game, which is a bit dumb. The game only lasts two hours as well, maybe less if you skip cutscenes.
 Gungrave is a fun little game lacking a whole lot in substance but making up for it in spades with style. I have fond memories of the game from when I was younger, and I had a blast playing it this afternoon... but the sequel is oh so much better, and considering you don't really need to know this game's story to play the sequel... I'd advise just skipping this one and getting Overdose.
 6.5 out of 10

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