Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Retrospective: Gungrave (Ps2)

Views have more than doubled lately with the completion of reviews for recently released games seeming to bring in a wave of readers. The 7/10 awarded to Dragons Crown still seems a little contentious to some, but if you take a look at our new scoring policy - a 7 is a good score! Ill have another review for you to chew the fat over in a few days time. Today though I'm going to do a retrospective. Its been about a week since I last done one which is surprising when I usually do one every other day. Today I'm gonna look at a game I recently re-purchased - Gungrave

 Story (Wikipedia)
 The game opens with the young girl dragging an oversized attaché case toward a warehouse with difficulty. "Bloody" Harry Macdowell has just carried out a coup against Big Daddy, the leader of the Millennion organization, and his daughter Mika needs to find someone that can protect her and stop Harry's mad plans. The occupants of this warehouse include a kindly looking old doctor, and a man with a notable scar on his face. Mika arrives, and the man with the scar claims the contents of the case: two massive handguns. That man is revealed to be the game's title character Grave, and now that he is armed he can start his mission.
Important events and stages are separated by anime cut-scenes featuring art by Nightow in this game. This is where almost all of the game's story takes place.While the story wont win any awards, it keeps things ticking over and the cutscenes look incredibly good (as you'd expect)
Gungrave is a third-person shooter that focuses on combat and does away with the puzzle solving aspects n the like that managed to sneak there way into similar games back then. You advance through small, linear stages while fighting wave after wave of enemies en route to an end-level boss. Combat interchanges between gunplay with enemies at a distance and simple melee combat at close range, and the game rates the amount of flair the player uses to destroy everyone and every thing in sight. You are equipped with a damage-absorbing energy shield to protect you in addition to a life bar. This shield appears as a blue bar alongside the life bar in the game's heads-up display. When the shield is empty, you are vulnerable to gunfire in particular  and will find your health level rapidly dwindling. However! The shield will recharge if you manage to dodge gunfire long enough. By performing well during levels, you can unlock special attacks such as machine guns or rockets launched from the coffin on Beyond the Grave's back. Yes, that is a coffin on his back. These can be used by charging the beat meter which is represented by a skull on the top left corner of the game's HUD. To build the beat meter, you must perform combos, sometimes numbering in hundreds of hits (destroying enemies or practically anything in the game environment). Strategy is required in setting up combos that are as long and devastating as possible, keeping the gameplay a little deeper than you'd expect while also making everything look ridiculously cool.
The character designs provided by series creator Yasuhiro Nightow and mechanical designs provided by Kōsuke Fujishima really give the game a unique look. Couple that with some tasty cel-shading and you have a game that screams STYLE. The game looks as though it could have been ripped from a manga and pasted to your TV screen. The low resolution helps with this by not allowing things to be overly detailed to hinder its look. The destructive aspects of the environment are well implemented with the lighting & particle effects adding to the chaos on show. The framerate tends to stay stable 95% of the time, only being dropped during really chaotic scenes. The game also seems to have a slow-mo/bullet time effect in play when accessing your special moves which looks as cool as your thinking. On the audio side of things, its just as good. most tracks seem to have more of a big-band sound at times, with lots of blaring horns over weighty bass to give the game a somewhat unique sound. Quirky electronica tracks are also thrown into the mix. As you'd expect from a game all about the gun play, the sound effects are nice & punchy. The chug-chug-chug of your dual pistols never getting tiring on the ears is a pleasant surprise. The Japanese voice track is also included, a godsend for people like me who enjoy that kind of thing. Overall the game is still quite the looker and holds up quite well, better than expected to be honest!
I managed to grab a copy of the game last week for a nice refresher. Its remarkable just how well it holds up. While its not a long game, its worthy of playing multiple times through as your skills with regards to combo's get better. Its a little tough to find in shops, but a trip to Ebay can net you a copy for less than a few Pound Sterling. Well worth a look for those nostalgic for some old-school action coupled with a superbly artistic flair.

*A little difficult finding decent screenshots for this, sorry guys

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