Gungrave G.O.R.E has exactly one mission objective, three words that flash across the screen at the beginning of each level and every time you die: Kick their ass. For the 12-15 hour campaign, you’ll do exactly that – shoot, slash, blow up, and otherwise execute thousands of enemies and bosses on your quest to eradicate the Raven Clan and save the world from an evil drug called SEED. When it works, which is often, Gungrave G.O.R.E is a captivating ballet of blood and bullets that merges Gungrave’s signature style with the best aspects of modern action games. Unfortunately, for everything Gungrave G.O.R.E does right, there are an equal number of frustrations and missed opportunities, making it difficult to recommend to anyone outside of action game aficionados or hardcore Gungrave fans.
Gungrave G.O.R.E follows on from the previous two games. While easily played as a self-contained story, the game comes with a handy “History” tab which retells the story of Gungrave and Gungrave Overdose. This should help newcomers figure out why you’ve got a coffin strapped to your back and what the heck SEED is.
That being said, Gungrave G.O.R.E. continues the series’ penchant for having some of the more nicely designed rogue’s gallery around. The new Raven Clan elites in particular have a certain flair to them that I find quite interesting. At the same time, they just don’t have the same gravitas as the original adversaries from Millennion. This is especially true for their personalities, which tend to rely more on some well-worn tropes.
Enemies with powerful guns or rocket launchers are the same way. If you don’t deal with them immediately, you’re probably going to die because G.O.R.E loves to have several of them attack you at a time, their attacks are very difficult to dodge (you can’t really dodge a guy with a machine gun, and rockets basically have to be deflected because they track you) and they hit really hard. All of this makes combat less about using all of Grave’s options and more about using whatever the “right option” to deal with that specific type of enemy is. Gungrave G.O.R.E is better when it’s letting you come up with creative solutions to encounters, but enemies like this shut that down completely.
Gungrave to its credit has always been about walking forward and shooting. It doesn’t have time for stealth sections and sniping. No, it just wants you to travel across stages ranging between 10 and 20 minutes, hammering the trigger button until the world around you is in ruins with a river of blood down the middle of it.
Voice acting is available in both English and Japanese, which is always a good thing. I personally know some folks who refuse to watch anime unless it’s in English despite being hardcore anime fans so having an option for both languages is nice. Gungrave G.O.R.E. even gives you the option to have only the Mafia characters’ voices in English and the rest in Japanese if you want, which I thought was neat.
When you get right down to it, most of Gungrave G.O.R.E feels like a missed opportunity. There’s a great combat system here, but the lack of variety and repetitive enemy design often let it down. The art, courtesy of Trigun’s Yasuhiro Nightow and Ikumi Nakamura, is fantastic and oozes style, but the story told in that attractive setting isn’t very interesting. The music and sound design are largely wonderful, too, but the voice acting is a little uneven. I can easily see its potential, but a mishmash of missteps prevent Gungrave G.O.R.E from ever reaching it.
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