View Full Version : Review: GunGrave

07-30-2002, 10:05 AM
Review from Xengamers.com http://www.xengamers.com/sections/reviews/8089/

Import Review: Gungrave
Written By: Walt Wyman

Publisher: Sega of Japan
Developer: Red Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2

A veritable triumph of form over content, we really wanted to give Gungrave an ?A? by virtue of its cool atmosphere alone. Unfortunately, while it may get 10 out of 10 for style, this title is plagued by clunky controls and a rather short shelf life.

Score: B-

Gameplay: C+

Graphics: B-

Sound: B+

Replay Value: C+

Red Entertainment is probably best known for its part in the Sakura War series, a strategy/RPG game series featuring cute anime babes and big pastel-colored mechs. There is nothing cute or pastel about Gungrave, however. The game is one long glorious bloodbath filled with dark imagery and twisted characters. The game follows the story of Beyond the Grave (BtG hereafter), a bespectacled, apparently undead gunslinger in a sort of goth meets Rhinestone Cowboy outfit. Armed with the Cereberos (a pair of huge handguns) and a coffin, BtG sets off to wreak total carnage on his quest to bring down an institution known simply as ?The Organization?. It isn't clear whether The Organization is a government agency or private business, but as the story unfolds in beautiful anime cut scenes, it becomes clear that BtG has very good reasons to want them all dead.

The game's combat system is simple yet effective: mash the square button (which fires BtG's guns). More advanced moves, such as mashing the square button while jumping, diving and rolling (?x? button plus L-stick), or strafing are also easily learned. There is a quick-turn button (L2) that allows BtG to spin around 180 degrees. Further, BtG can do special ?Demolition Shots? which are area effect attacks. These come in two varieties, a rocket launcher and a spinning machine gun attack. Killing lots of enemies with the pistols earns BtG special points (?Beats?) that can either be traded in for a burst of life, or used one per Demolition Shot. In a pinch BtG can also whack enemies with the big coffin chained to his back by pressing R1. For defense, BtG is equipped with a Halo-like shield (i.e. the shield level decreases with each hit he takes, but will recharge if he can avoid getting hit for long enough).

There are a couple of complaints with the gameplay. First, BtG's default walk is very slow. I think the designers' image of BtG was as a sort of lumbering, calculating killing machine. Unfortunately it does not work all that well from a gameplay point of view. While he can jog or run, he can't shoot when running. This would make the spry jogging speed the natural choice for combat, except that jogging requires holding down the L3 button and simultaneously working the left stick to steer -this is quite awkward. In the end, the jog feature, while a great idea, is pretty much unusable (oddly, while the run button can be remapped to another key, the jog button cannot). Also, the system of holding down ?x? while moving the stick to dive, jump, etc. seems a bit counter-intuitive, and perhaps isn't as responsive as it could be. The other complaint is that occasionally the camera will get blocked by a corner, box, etc. This is rarely fatal, but is kind of annoying.

Visually, this is not the best cel-shaded game to date, but it's still pretty good. The character design is solid, with a number of weird enemies, from psychotic doctors to salaryman robots. The bosses get downright creepy, some of them transforming from humans into hideous monsters. The visual payoff for BtG's simple combat moves is phenomenal; just firing while standing still causes BtG to go through a little dance routine of trick shots. The explosions are nicely done without looking overdone. BtG's dives and rolls are fun to watch and give the game a John Woo flick sensibility. The special Demolitions Shots available when fighting bosses have some nifty animation too. The environmental graphics are rather drab though. The main issue is draw-in distance. The entire game takes place in a dense layer of fog (presumably to hide draw-in), making even the out-side levels feel claustrophobic. The other complaint is that the textures are rather repetitive and in most levels one corridor/stairwell looks pretty much like all the others. Sometimes unique rooms/areas break up the monotony, but not often enough.

Sound is one place where Gungrave shines. The roar of BtG's pistols and rumbling explosions (complimented by force-feedback, of course) are nice and meaty. The Japanese voice acting is competent ?on a par with most anime I've seen. The great soundtrack is composed of dark, almost jazzy tunes alternating with grinding industrial tracks and even one or two cuts that pay tribute to Western film scores of old. Some of the effects are a bit cheesy ?enemy machine guns sound like toys, and the bad guys yell repetitive, canned epithets at you. Other than that, the game simply sounds great.

Shelf life is perhaps the more critical complaint regarding Gungrave. While the levels are diverse (taking you from a bar, through a train, up a very bizarre tower, and many other locations in between) they are so linear the game almost feels like it's on rails. There is really no exploration involved. Further, the objective of each level is always the same: go from point A to point B, killing everyone in your path. Also, the enemy AI is not very challenging, even on the hardest difficulty level. Between the dumb AI and scarcity of levels (just six), the game only takes an afternoon to beat. There are Easter eggs to unlock (viewable character graphics, and a slow-motion toggle for example), but to many players it may not seem worth the effort.

For sheer style, Gungrave is fantastic. Sadly, the overall quality is hindered by a lack of depth and somewhat awkward control mechanics. But if gamers can look past this they will be rewarded with a game that oozes atmosphere and style.

+Wonderfully twisted gameworld and characters
+Superb cut scenes
-Somewhat boring environmental graphics
-Short draw distance

+Dark score perfectly suits gameworld
+Explosions you can feel (subwoofer not included)
+Decent voice acting (for a change)

+Simple yet satisfying combat
-Awkward movement

Replay Value
+Lots of Easter eggs to unlock
-Only six levels
-Poor AI

08-01-2002, 11:27 AM
:crying:!How dissapointed can't understand why the game recieved those ratings! Well anyway i'm gonna buy it no matter what! :wink:

08-06-2002, 03:29 AM
Ill have to agree with the review. I couldnt be bothered with playing any more past level 2. While graphically the game is classy, the gameplay gets very dull and repetitive after a short while. The game is most certainly a perfect example of more style than substance.

I wouldnt buy it, nor hold my breath for its release in the US. Rent it, and if you really do like it, buy it, though you can probably finish it in a single day.

08-06-2002, 08:20 AM
6 levels!?

Those bettah be some dam long lev3ls!

08-07-2002, 08:45 AM
I finished the first two elvels in the space of 15 minutes. I hope thats not an indication of how long the later ones are, though usually later levels tend to be longer in such games.

08-07-2002, 10:16 AM
So the game is a rent game?

To SESKA: In the jap version of the game do you have english subtitles? I saw a trailer of Guncrave and i saw a cutscene and it had english subtitles cause if it does i might also check the jap version!:big smile

08-08-2002, 09:51 PM
It is a short game. Depending on how you play it, you can finish the entire six stages in 1 hour or less. There are extras you unlock, but no extra stages to finish, etc. So, it would be a rental for most people.

Speaking for myself, I own GG, played and finished it. I'm still playing it, and I love every minute of it :) It's one of those games you can play anytime to blow off steam. Had a tough day at work? Then just put GG on and shoot everything that moves without remorse :D

Can't wait to see the anime series when it comes out.

08-09-2002, 10:35 AM
Also want to play that game and if it's short i'll take it for real! Been playing alot of rpg's, so a short game will be a gift from heaven right now, and i saw alot of demo about this game and haven't noticed a thing about the camara and the other bad stuff in the game well anyway i'm gonna look for it anyways

Now can anybody tell me if the game got english subtitles?

08-09-2002, 10:50 AM
Whoops! Sorry, Atma. I meant to answer your question, but it kinda slipped my mind...

Anyway, no. To my knowledge, there is no option for turning on English subtitles in GG. All the menus are in English, but dialogue, in-game subtitles, and end credits are in Japanese.

08-09-2002, 11:02 AM
Guess i have to wait for the NTSC/US afterall !:irked"

08-12-2002, 11:13 AM
Originally posted by ATMA
Guess i have to wait for the NTSC/US afterall !:irked"

I am getting it too. DMC was kina like that but I still had fun with it.

08-14-2002, 05:39 AM
Dave Z:
Gungrave --
I beat the import version of Gungrave on PlayStation 2 last night (about an hour before I started trying to sleep, so I don't think this has anything to do with my insomnia). Very cool game. Slowdown withstanding, the graphics are pretty damn sweet and the game's style factor is through the roof. It's like the offspring you'd probably get if you forced Devil May Cry to breed with the Cowboy Bebop anime.

The only downside is that it's extremely simple and a bit on the short side -- my first time through was an hour and 30 minutes. It is fun enough to play through more than once and the fact that I got the 3rd lowest rank possible on the Normal difficulty (there are two harder levels) suggests that I've far from "mastered" the game. Even still, Gungrave looks more like a game that you'll HAVE to play but not necessarily buy.

For a nice read and a good laugh, I highly suggest that you go check out David Smith's import review of Gungrave on IGNPS2. It's one of the best reviews I've read in quite a long time. He pretty much nailed it with the good and bad of the game. Though, I'm more on the side of Evil Doktor than Good Doktor.

Fun Fact: Gungrave is the first videogame I've beaten since leaving IGN. I think Jack and Daxter was the last game that I beat before Gungrave, but don't hold me to that, I may be mistaken.

Dave Z's the former PSX.IGN, PS2.IGN editor. This is from his website.


And heres the scores from the IGN.PS2 Import Review. The full review can be found here (http://ps2.ign.com/articles/367/367191p1.html).

Evil Doktor screams louder here, on account of the cool movie sequences, well-done interface, and excellent overarching style. 8.5

He's making a lot of noise about the game's looks, too, and we have to mostly agree with him there. 8.0

Wow, we actually agree on something. The holy axe of Tsuneo Imahori finally graces a videogame. 8.5

Good Doktor swoops in and refuses to budge in his assessment of Gungrave's gameplay. 3.0

Lasting Appeal
And he won't be moved regarding its replay value, either. 3.0

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 5.0

08-14-2002, 03:47 PM
Well anyway call me stupid or anything i'll still buy it and play it..i bet this game will warm me up or prepare me for the big one
CONTRA ! :cool guy:

08-14-2002, 03:57 PM
ATMA, you're stupid! :cool guy:

08-14-2002, 04:03 PM
Well i got my reason to use my stupid abbility to buy this game!

09-02-2002, 02:16 AM
I need to know if there will be any extra levels or enhancements in the US version, then I will make my decision.

Any info?

Black Sugar
09-03-2002, 09:22 PM
The character cannot shoot while running?

What kind of design desicion is that?

I can believe that... we're almost at the year 2003 and we still see games such as these!

09-17-2002, 02:16 AM
Originally posted by Black Bahamut
The character cannot shoot while running?

What kind of design desicion is that?

I can believe that... we're almost at the year 2003 and we still see games such as these!

Grave can shoot while walking, its kind of like when Dante shoots while walking. They hop a little but shoots slower.