Gungrave G.O.R.E Review
Developer: Iggymob Co.,Ltd
Publisher: Prime Matter
Genre(s): Action, Action-Adventure, Shoot’em Up
Platform: PlayStation 5 (Version Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 22/11/22
A code was provided for review purposes
The original Gungrave is one of those PS2 titles that I often admired from afar. As a predominantly Xbox fanboy in my teenage years, my time was mainly spent on the battlefield of Halo: Combat Evolved. So sadly, my experience of Gungrave remained looking at the box art in my local video-game store.
Now, many years later and I’ve had the privilege to sit down with the game’s sequel – Gungrave G.O.R.E. But is this third-person action-fest all that I hoped it would be? Come with me as I find out…
Gungrave G.O.R.E continues the story that was set up within the original title, its VR sequel, and its animated series. Taking on the role of Grave (that’s short for ‘Beyond The Grave’), you’re tasked with taking on the hordes of bad guys who are flooding the streets with a drug called SEED. Not only is SEED quite the commodity, but it also has the penchant to turn those who use it into grotesque mutants.
Armed with his signature duel pistols and a coffin called “Death Hauler,” Grave sets out to squash those who stand in his way with a flourish of stylish combat and general chaos. Thankfully, if, like me and this all sounds a little too crazy, Gungrave G.O.R.E doesn’t rely on you to have any past experience. In fact, the action comes so fast you don’t have time to let it all sink in!
Auto Aim Galore
Forsaking the mechanics of a traditional third-person shooter, Gungrave G.O.R.E instead opts for a heavy auto-aim that locks onto enemies as they get into range. This then allows you to focus on shooting the various enemies and projectiles that stand in front of Grave and his mission. Aside from being a crack shot, Grave also has a few other tricks up his long sleeves. Across the game levels, you’ll have these abilities drip-fed to you until you become a truly destructive force.
While Grave has the staple dodge ability, he also has a few more exotic ones too. The coffin plays a big part in this, and as such, you’re able to utilize it as both a melee weapon and a way to “hook” enemies to it as a shield. Away from this and Grave can also use his pistols to fire a barrage of bullets – but only if his combo meter is high enough!
Switching between these different attacks and abilities is a lot of fun. It all falls into the frantic nature of these battles and does make you feel like a real badass in doing so. That being said, the overall experience is hampered by a general sense of flatness in Grave’s special attacks and the extreme close-up of the camera.
As I touched upon earlier, Gungrave G.O.R.E forgoes the traditional third-person shooter control scheme. While the lock-on function does allow you to concentrate on shooting, it switches between targets with all the grace and decorum of a drunk family member at a gathering. You’ll constantly be switching between enemies as Grave becomes a twitchy mess as he tries to keep up with whom to shoot.
Elsewhere and Gungrave G.O.R.E requires you to keep up with this madness by constantly tapping the R2 button. Simply pressing the button allows you to fire a volley of four bullets while holding the button starts to power up a charge move. This means that you’ll be predominantly hammering the button like you’re running the 100 meters. It’s nowhere near enjoyable – or accessible – and within minutes, you do start to feel a lot of discomfort. You’ll also be reminded by on-screen prompts that timing your shots does negate some of this work. It’s a bit clichéd as the action is so frantic you physically don’t get the time.
While its gameplay is arthritis-inducing, G.O.R.E’s level design is uninspiring. Most of the environments consist of cut & paste aesthetics of drab military themes or dank City streets. On the few occasions that something new is introduced, they soon fall into the same drab setting as before. The train mission is a prime example. After ploughing his way through the dark, decaying world, Grave finds himself on the roof of a high-speed train. You’d think that this location alone would perfectly fit the fast nature of the gameplay. Sadly it soon turns into a dodge-fest as you tackle incoming obstacles, countless enemies, limited floor space, and a hidden time limit.
To make matters worse, from here onwards, that pesky time limit becomes more prevalent. What this then means is that you really do need to go guns – and coffin – blazing, as holding back will simply run out the clock. Away from time limits and Gungrave G.O.R.E also has a few “light” platforming elements to its gameplay. Much like everything else, these elements are poorly implemented that it becomes a real chore to perform the simplest of tasks and will see you questioning your sanity.
It’s not all bad, though, as Gungrave G.O.R.E makes great use of the PS5 DualSense controller. For most – if not all – of the game, the DualSense speaker acts as the voice in Grave’s ear. Across his many missions, characters will be relaying objectives and narrative dialogue to you, as well as tediously reminding you of clichéd gaming hazards. While the dialogue is a bit hit-and-miss, it’s certainly nice to see the controller utalised in this way. For those who want a more traditional experience, you are also in luck. While there is an option to turn off the DualSense audio, it does exactly that. Doing so removes most of the in-game dialogue from playing and leaves you with the ominous soundtrack and Grave’s mute thoughts. Not exactly fun!
For the majority, I did enjoy the presentation that Gungrave G.O.R.E provides. Even though a lot of the stage ascetics are the same, the odd change to neon-lit streets or lush jungle did make for a few striking moments. The game also allows for a few preset visual modes that attempt to take advantage of the PlayStation 5 hardware, but aside from really benefitting from 60 frames per second, both ray tracing and graphical improvement modes were extremely negligible.
The cutscenes are well-designed and animated extremely well. The action flows superbly, and everything comes together to showcase how much of a badass Grave is. The downside to this is that the dialogue can be a bit inconsistent. Grave’s partner Mika is the one constant you’ll hear, and while she’s acted perfectly well, there are a few moments when she’s more of a hindrance than a help. Quite often, you’ll be near the end of a fight to then hear Mika explain that more reinforcements forces are on their way.
As expected, the musical score is the game’s shining point. It’s a heavy metal/rock-infused jamboree that really gets the tempo flowing when the bullets start flying. Sound effects are also well presented, considering they also play through the DualSense speaker. I don’t recommend playing Gungrave G.O.R.E in the middle of the night.
I really had high anticipation for Gungrave G.O.R.E being better than it actually is. While I’m all up for playing those quirky/janky games, here it was a little too “janky” for me – not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d write. While Gungrave G.O.R.E is a little rough around the edges, it’s marred by an extremely painful control scheme and some poor level design. However, for those who want more of the Gungrave story, then G.O.R.E no doubt offers a satisfactory outcome. But for me, it’s sadly one game that I won’t be returning to.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2.5 out of 5
Get your copy of Gungrave G.O.R.E via the PlayStation Store today.
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