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PS2 Reviews: Gungrave


Gungrave screenshots


The Final Say!


Gungrave -  reviewed by Andrew B 
Review Date: 22 January 2003
Review Score 8.5/10
Distributed By:
Developed By: Red Entertainment

Gungrave is the latest third person shooter from Red Entertainment that is published under the banner of SEGA and is set in the not so distant future. Gungrave itself is a cross between an arcade shooter meets third person shooter and is reminiscent of games such as a Raiden and Devil May Cry. The story starts with a beautifully orchestrated cinematic of a young girl dragging a strange coffin-like case to a scientist called Doctor T. When the tired and scared girl finally reaches Doctor T, she falls on the ground and the doctor lifts her gently onto the couch. 

Meanwhile in the room, a strange and mysterious man picks up the strange case that the girl was carrying and with a minimal effort, he lays it down on the table. This man is Grave, the hero of the game and he opens the case that the girl was carrying to reveal two huge guns. By equipping these powerful and deadly guns, your mission starts as Gungrave and your all out attack on the evil Syndicate. Without revealing too much of the storyline, I must urge gamers to be patient as the storyline unfolds because it starts quite slow and eventually picks up the pace to lead to the climatic battle with the enemy behind Grave's problems.

The main premise behind Gungrave is to release a plethora of bullets (over 1,000,000 to be exact) and to destroy all your enemies without breaking a sweat. In its purest essence, Gungrave is a button masher and the more you press, the more you shoot. The control system of the game is extremely easy to learn and Gungrave can perform a variety of different moves such as roles, dances and various graceful combat manoeuvres. 

The main button that you will be using in Gungrave is the square button that is your primary firing button, however there is an option to change to rapid mode and allows you to just hold the button down. What makes Gungrave different to other games of the shooting genre is that the faster you shoot, the more combos you will perform. That is, if you keep firing, it will increase your combo meter and allow you to perform a variety of different combos and manoeuvres that are straight out of a Hong Kong action movie. 

By holding down the L1 button, it allows you to target enemies and also enables you to strafe. In order to make Gungrave jump or dive, you must either hold the X button down to jump or push the X button with a direction to perform a dive. By using all your these combinations and by firing your guns at the same time, you will soon earn quite a few points that will allow you to perform some great moves that is the secret behind this game. Gungrave himself can also take quite a beating in the game and at times seems indestructible. 

Fortunately as you progress through the game, your opponents become tougher and the bosses more powerful. When Gungrave is injured, he has a variety of different ways to recuperate and one method is to rest between enemy encounters as it slowly builds up your defence meter. Additional health and power-ups can also be received at the end of levels that also work hand-in-hand with the various combos in the game. For instance, the more spectacular you are in the game (much the same as Devil May Cry), the more the game rewards you.

Graphically, Gungrave is a spectacular game that features various special effects and flare that can only be considered as pure eye candy. Borrowing from the latest craze of computer games, Gungrave is cell-shaded and looks magnificent. The games characters and backgrounds were designed by famed Japanese artists Yasuhiro Nightow and Kosuke Fujishima that have published various Japanese Anime comics. Because of these artists, the games graphics have this extraordinary Japanese Manga look to them that really suits the game perfectly. All the characters in the game are made up of a decent polygon count that enable them to have a realistic Japanese feel to them. Another impressive feature of the game is the high resolution textures that appear on Gungrave and the boss characters, although the cannon fodder in the game (that is, the hundreds of humanoid enemies that you must face) unfortunately look a little uninspiring. But then again, they are the mindless zones of the Syndicate that you must shoot your way through in order to complete the level, so it's kind of befitting. 

It should also be noted that many of the backgrounds in the game actually interact with the game itself so you can virtually destroy dozens of objects and leave bullet holes anywhere and everywhere you like. The lighting effects from the various guns you use are spectacular and some of the muzzle effects are truly awe inspiring. There are also a variety of particle effects and great looking smoke effects that truly make this game feel as if you have been in a war zone. Last but not least, the cinematics between levels are probably on par with the movies from the Final Fantasy series and have this amazing Japanese cartoon look to them with a darker edge, quite simply perfect!

The musical score of Gungrave uses a variety of different styles of music to help set the atmosphere of the game such as industrial, pop and orchestral. The sound effects of the game feature all the noises you would expect to hear in huge gunfire battles such as the sounds of gunfire, explosions and the sounds of metal snapping. The voice acting in the game is extremely professional, mainly because it has been done in Japanese but fortunately for those of us that don't know the language, there are subtitles to help us through these difficult stages. A perfect mix of Japanese voices, a brilliant soundtrack and amazing sound effects gives Gungrave the perfect sound experience for gamers. 

Gungrave on the PS2 is a salute to the arcade games of yesterday such as Raiden and Double Dragon that had you fighting your way through the armies of evil. The developers have done an amazing job at recreating a Japanese-style cartoon with an awesome storyline, amazing graphics and superb sound effects will definitely make this game the sleeper hit of 2003. Check it out!

- Andrew B

Gungrave Features

        1 Players
        Memory Card (80K Minimum)
        Analog control compatible: analog stick only
        Vibration function compatible
        Easy-to-use controls
        Everything in Gungrave can be shot

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