Have you ever heard of the Gungrave series, it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if you hadn’t. I hadn’t heard of it but here’s a little bit of history. Essentially the series made its start on the PS2 in 2002 and eventually moved on to the PS3 and VR systems. They never really made waves, but there was a fan base for the series. The games list themselves as third-person shooter adventure game combos. This is relevant because the latest in the series has been released.
Gungrave G.O.R.E was developed by South Korean developers IGGYMOB and was released on the 22 of November for all major consoles. Like its predecessors, the game touts itself as an action-adventure third-person shooter, with just a hint of the spectacle fighter about it. So, is this edgy rapid-fire trip down memory lane worth your time or not? Well, we here at Robot Republic are here to give you our view.
Normally this is where I would talk about the plot but there really isn’t much here to talk about. The main story focuses on Grave, the gunslinger of resurrection, you have to hunt down the manufacturers of a new drug called SEED. This will draw Grave into conflict with the Raven Clan, a ruthless gang that must be exterminated. That is it, that’s the entire plot and frankly about the same level of characterisation as the game gives too. Grave is not an interesting character, there is no depth here and certainly no riveting conversation. But you don’t play this kind of game for the plot, oh no, you play this to be badass.
There was a reason why I started this review by talking about the series' origins on the PS2, and it wasn’t just nostalgia. To put it simply, playing Gungrave G.O.R.E is highly reminiscent of the spectacle-style shooter on the Playstation. The basic gameplay is easy to understand but surprisingly hard to master. Essentially Grave has two weapons, his pistols and his coffin named ‘Death Hauler’. The pistols will be your main method of attack, with the coffin being used to close combat attacks and special moves.
The name of the game here is keeping up a strong score, both in combo and in style (although they aren’t called that). Firstly is your combo meter, called Beats here, which is maintained by basic attacks. What the game wants you to do is keep the meter up for the whole mission, which is possible as it also raises by shooting certain items around the level. However, there are two major problems with this method. Firstly, the guns have a degree of auto lock on so there is little challenge in just hitting the shoot button over and over again, and as such the main thing players will see is the flash of their guns. Secondly, if you’re ever unsure of where to go then say goodbye to your combo.
The second aspect to raise is the Art score, which is raised by using Graves' special abilities, executions and melee finishers. These are all a bit samey, but do offer some variety to the gameplay and the choice of what to do to keep both scores high adds a nice amount of challenge. All of these scores are added at the end of the mission and contribute to the number of points available for upgrading Grave. There are a good amount of options to unlock and you certainly feel more powerful for them. The issue is that there is nothing that really changes how Grave plays and, if you aren’t drawn in the first few missions, then there's nothing in this 12-15 hour game that will change your mind.
Graphically the game is OK, there’s nothing to really write home about. The game runs smoothly and when everything is exploding and bullets are flying then it is certainly visually impressive. However, the levels and the character designs are dull and repetitive. There are only a few different enemy types and none of them really change in appearance or tactics. However, some of the boss designs are interesting enough to offer a strong chance. There is music, but I will be honest, the main thing you will hear is the sound of pistols shooting again and again. If you do happen to hear it then it's suitably edgy.
Gungrave G.O.R.E is a weird game and part of a franchise that most people probably don’t remember. There is something here, especially for those who miss the old PS2 days, and when the combat flow works it feels fantastic. However, the flow is hidden behind a few difficult hurdles which means that, for the majority of other players, this might be worth a miss. If you have Game Pass it could be worth checking out, but it is harder to recommend as a purchase. Although, if you still have your edgy joker picture on prominent display on your Myspace page then this might be the perfect game for you.
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