Once a member of 'The Syndicate,' the recently resurrected Grave is ready
to seek vengeance against who betrayed him. In a zombie-meets-cowboy-meets-macabre
look, Grave provides an overwhelmingly stylish presentation, but an awfully short
With gameplay reminiscent of Devil May Cry, Gungrave
features a dual-pistol-toting hero who is as flashy as he is deadly. Featuring
one of the coolest character designs I have seen in recent memory, Grave totes
a coffin on his back and two crucifix-laden sidearms, and an overall appearance
that makes him come across as one badass cowboy. That isn't just for show though,
as he has an unlimited amount of ammo at his disposal, which he will use to dispatch
combos of gunshots that will result in a higher final ranking, as well as points.
These also help to gain demolition shots, which are powerful blasts that result
in fantastic cutscenes when used on a nearly-dead boss, and will deal massive
damage within regular combat as they devastate enemies and the surrounding area.
One of the coolest parts of Gungrave is the ability to bring a once-peaceful
subway corridor to the point of falling in on itself as bullet holes and scorched
tile are all that's left after Grave unleashes some painful justice on some random
henchmen. However, a downside of the design is that the enemies due tend to get
a bit bland, although there are definitely exceptions to this rule, as the machinegun-in-suitcases-toting
baddies in black suits will attest to. The bosses fare better as they are more
imaginative and have more entertaining levels than those that lead up to their
encounter. After dispatching Syndicate members, gamers are led through how it
has affected the story by some incredible cutscenes that really help to set the
It's unfortunate that all of
Gungrave's positives can't overcome the fact that it's one of the shortest
titles I have ever played. The first run-through can be accomplished in a single
afternoon, and replay value is slim as its longevity consists simply of unlocking
an extra menu that features an option to check out action figures of the characters
within each level, level select, camera mode, extra demolition shot options (replaying
the levels will also unlock those shots that weren't gained through the first
completion), as well as slow motion mode - which, incidentally, isn't supposed
to emulate Bullet Time, so don't go in expecting such. Finally, the most enjoyable
option would be the ability to watch all of the cutscenes as one long version.
However, these options are unlocked based on what grades were earned throughout
the level - think: Devil May Cry's judging on what was 'cool' - so it might
very well be that replaying the entire game again will only unlock the only two
features that weren't achieved the first time. It also doesn't help that Grave
is incredibly tough and, even though he is a bit sluggish, his side rolls and
melee coffin attacks can dispatch countless baddies. Sure, it's undeniably cool
to know that you will walk into a room with just two pistols and face down 40
enemies, after which you'll be walking out like the nonchalant badass that you
are, but it doesn't make for a very long gaming experience.
As stated, Gungrave features fantastic character
design and some incredible cutscenes. The deformable environments and smooth animations
are icing on the cake as everything about the game just oozes style. There was
some slowdown when explosions seemed to be coming from all sides of the screen,
but overall, Gungrave was a treat to behold.
can be heard through the endless amounts of rounds being fired off, then it means
you aren't playing the game the right way! Actually, the background music is pretty
good and fits in well with the atmosphere. As an added bonus, subtitles were used
and the original voices were kept intact; sure, by Japanese standards they could
be considered poor, but by my standards they are light-years better than most
of what you'll find on today's market.
Let's see: press, shoot, and repeat. Those are the basics, and that
isn't being said in a derisive manner, as Grave really is the equivalent of an
old-style shooter. Simply line up your pistols in the general direction of an
enemy and let 'em rip. It's expected that, with Grave being dead and having a
coffin strapped to his back, our hero can be a bit sluggish, but his side rolls
more than make up for that as they even enable him to escape an incoming rocket.
Consider that it features a powerful hero that has unlimited ammo
and no need to reload, it's surprising that Gungrave manages to be fun.
The feeling of power that Grave exudes to the gamer is a refreshing one, but it's
also one that will ultimately leave many to forego the experience altogether for
something a bit longer-lasting. After completing the game, I found this must-rent
experience very similar to a huge rollercoaster: it's a fast, fun, and extremely