Gungrave G.O.R.E. is finally here, launching straight into Xbox Game Pass for all to enjoy. A sequel to the cult classic Gungrave from 2002, Gungrave G.O.R.E. wants to rekindle those memories of the third-person action shooter, reigniting the franchise. Gungrave more recently received VR treatment in 2018, but this time we get treated to a full sequel.
Gunslinger Of REsurrection is what the G.O.R.E stands for here, however, the game has its fair share of actual gore as well. In Gungrave you are tasked with defeating the Raven Clan, stopping the spread of an evil drug named SEED. The story continues from the Gungrave VR story, however, newcomers can play without any prior knowledge of the franchise.
Kicking off and Gungrave G.O.R.E. hits us with a slick trailer with Grave dropping out of the sky inside of his coffin, into the middle of some gangsters. As he snaps the neck of one of them you know this game is going to be pretty violent, and you would be correct. Sadly the cutscenes are the only part of Gungrave G.O.R.E. that stand out. Let’s take a look at what goes wrong.
The biggest problem with G.O.R.E. is how close it feels to an early 2000’s-era title. Corridors that make the environments feel enclosed for shootouts are fine, but making 90% of the game occur inside these narrow, pretty bland, areas ensures things get boring fast.
In each mission you have Quartz telling you where to go over comms. This once again feels like something from the arcades or early 2000s. Not that there is a problem with that so much, but remember that Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a 2022 title. Repetitive instructions of how to fight enemies or where they are entering the room, quickly becomes grating to listen to.
Moving Grave around is also quite sluggish, as he hunches over, running like a stereotypical goth or emo from years gone by. He looks cool in the cutscenes that tell the story, but when running around each area, he comes across much more like an angsty teen, on the way to buy My Chemical Romance tickets because his dad told him not to.
Clunky shooting mechanics further disappoint, especially as they have an auto-lock system that is just not fun. Feeling like a console port of an arcade light gun game instead of a third-person action shooter, Gungrave does nothing good for the genre. Guns do not feel great to fire and have little weight to them, whilst spicing things up with a move using the coffin or a special attack does nothing noteworthy.
While mopping up enemies coming your way, you will want to get the Beat Count up. To do this you need to combo enemies with shots and finishing moves to keep the score high. If you manage to get your Beat Count to 50, then you are rewarded with Storm Barrage, a move that will take out enemies in all directions as well as put the Beat Count up further.
And then we have the Bosses who pop up, requiring very little strategy to put them down; for most, the old circle strafe manoeuvre works every time. There just isn’t much satisfaction in circling around an enemy, holding fire until your special move meter fills in order to send a stronger attack. None of these carry any weight or player satisfaction either. None. Sadly the only weapons outside of the special attacks are twin pistols and the coffin.
You can unlock upgrades for Grave as you progress through the levels, bought between missions using points. You’ll gain more points by getting bigger Beat Counts or dying less in levels, helping to unlock things a bit faster. It’s standard stuff – health, damage, new attacks and shields being some of the things available to purchase in the lab.
More positively, Gungrave G.O.R.E comes in with a pretty decent length of something around ten to fifteen hours for the campaign; it does however feel a lot longer than this. There are thirty-one levels to blast and coffin smash your way through, and each one – after the first five levels or so – begins to feel like those from previous. Enemy types repeat and boss battles show little variety. In fact, Gungrave shows all it has to offer in the first few hours of play.
Perhaps if Gungrave G.O.R.E. had been a remake or remaster of the original title, then these unsatisfying mechanics and gameplay could be forgiven slightly. The issue is that this is not a remaster, it is a brand-new entry to the series and not a great one at that. I wanted to like Gungrave G.O.R.E. and it feels as if we need to wait an age between Devil May Cry titles these days, whilst Bayonetta has left Xbox for Nintendo. A good solid hack-and-slash shooter would be very well received right about now. But this is not it.
It really could have been a chance to reboot the franchise, some twenty years on from the original; to make something cool and solid to play. Yet instead we have got a game that is pretty much stuck in the past, an old third-person action game. Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a game that has no “you need to see this” sections and nothing outside of the odd stylish cutscene to even write home about.
A true disappointment is what we have here in Gungrave G.O.R.E.. As someone who remembers playing the original, I can say this does indeed stay true to that game, but not in a way that will go down well with everyone. Gungrave G.O.R.E is clunky and basic – two words that no hack and slash shooter this side of the Xbox 360 should be associated with.
Devil May Cry has nothing to worry about.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is on the Xbox Store