Style over substance. That is a trend that has become more common in this age of consoles. Games like FANTAVISION or STAR FOX ADVENTURES fall into this trend. Sure it's a great tech demo to show off your console, but would you really play it otherwise? Sega's newest title GUNGRAVE is the newest title to join this bunch.
You are Grave, a re-animated hero who takes on hordes of bad guys on his quest to bring down the evil corporation. It's a typical Japanese anime storyline, where you get to play the badass. That word definitely describes your hero. He's got a coffin that launches rockets and whips enemies, plus two pistols that apparently don't need to be reloaded. All in all, Grave is a beast; he walks through groups of enemies and slaughters them. It's very cool looking, and the concept is great.
But that's ALL that happens. For instance, you walk into a room and see enemies, you start tapping the fire button, you tap the fire button some more, and you turn and tap the fire button again. Ooo, there's a group of enemies, fire a rocket. That guy got too close - swing the coffin. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's fun for the first three or four levels.
Maybe this is a little contradictory. I really enjoyed DEVIL MAY CRY, and that had puzzles that were on the easy side, and lots of action too. The main difference lies in the control scheme. While Grave can do some rolls and other cool moves, he's too slow and cumbersome to make the game much fun. You can't run and shoot, and it's a pain to turn (although he does have a quick turnaround that is pretty cool). The level designs are also relatively uninspired and straightforward.
It all boils down to the fact that the game just doesn't play as well as it could. I wish Grave was faster, had some cooler dodge moves, and the game played faster. So much style has all been squandered on a game that just doesn't seem that fun to play after the first hour or so. The lack of any sort of multiplayer options also puts a damper on the game and seals the coffin on Grave (again).
GUNGRAVE oozes with style. From the beginning to the end, it feels like a Japanese anime movie. The game is, for the most part, cel-shaded, and looks really good. The animation and special effects are top-notch. The look of the game is very dark, and contributes well to the thematic elements.
The sound is good. Nothing ever really stood out to me music wise, but you'll hear lots of sound effects. Plenty of bullets to fire, plenty of enemies grunting, and plenty of things getting blown up - it all sounds fantastic.
If I gave GUNGRAVE a grade for style, it'd have an 'A' easily. But there's just no gameplay to back up this anime movie. Nevertheless, the experience is worth the cost of a rental.