Grave is back with his giant rifle, and this time it's to stop the Scum, a rogue organisation that has launched a new deathly drug. Sound cool?
Gungrave for PlayStation 2 was one of the first games I reviewed at the Gamereactor Magazine, along with Need for Speed Underground and Colin McRae Rally 3. I don't remember much about it except that it was all about shooting, all the time, and that the main character carried around the single biggest gun in gaming history.
Gungrave Gore, or G.O.R.E (Gunslinger of Resurrection) is the direct sequel to the 2002 adventure, and in this game we're thrown into the action that takes place before the PlayStation original, where the fate of the world hangs in the balance as the evil organisation Scum has released the deadly drug, Seed, which eats the soul of anyone who snorts it up. Drugs are bad, keeping your soul is good, and it now requires Grave to kill all members of Scum to erase the drug forever. And this is done by shooting, constantly. Everything is to be shot. And quickly. The story is as ridiculous here as the characters are and while there are parts of Gore that feel nostalgically retro in all the right ways, the whole thing just becomes a clear testament to how much has happened in the action genre in the last 20 years. I recently played Horizon Forbidden West and I am currently playing God of War: Ragnarök, and stepping from those titles straight into Gore feels a bit like riding a time machine back to 2002.
In terms of game mechanics, Gungrave Gore is lousy. It's rarely about aiming, or playing with any sort of precision, but more about clicking buttons on the DualSense controller and then watching as the partially automated Grave shoots all 32 enemies scurrying around like rabid chickens on the screen, simultaneously. Developer Iggymob write in the game's press release that it's all about "kicking butt" and no nonsense about defensive play or taking cover behind things, and that's how it works. In the role of Grave, I never have to back up, move, dodge enemy attacks, or bother with anything except clicking the same button, all the time. For 12 hours.
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The environments in Gore are really poorly designed and, as in the case of the game mechanics, they feel like they've been pulled from 2002, where we simply had much lower standards and a rather shameless Devil May Cry knock-off like Gungrave passed as "just okay". Today? Not so much. Especially not after playing through the level in Gungrave Gore, where Grave bounds around on a speeding train and has to jump over debris and branches from trees on the side of the tracks, while shooting all the 2000 charging, stupid enemy soldiers that spawn out of thin air. This is the worst game moment of the year. The worst designed level in all of 2022, and is indicative of how old, ugly, monotonous, and above all, how boring this game really is.
There's definitely value in backing up, trimming away all the novelties, and just focusing on heavy, frantic third-person action at a fast pace, but it needs to be done a lot better than this. Gungrave Gore costs $50 for PlayStation 5, and it must be considered a belated April Fool's joke in every way imaginable. Had this been released on Android for nine bucks, it would have seemed just about right.
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3 / 10
Retro UI. Big guns.
Stupid enemies. Inane game mechanics. Zero variety. Lousy design. Boring gameplay. Dull story.