Other than the Demolition Shots and the regular gun, your character is limited to only one other move: the mighty coffin twirl. This fast move gets rid of all enemies directly surrounding you, but loses track of your beats. Our hero tends to lumber around, kind of like you would expect with a heavy coffin on his back. He tends to be a little slow, and could have used a few more defensive moves, in my opinion.
We've already established that the cut scenes are among the most impressive this reviewer has ever seen, but the in game graphics aren't too shabby, either. In fact, the transition from cinema to game play is extremely smooth, without there being a glaring difference. The in game graphics are using a similar style of cel-shading as the cut scenes, but tend to not look as clear, and get a little lost in non-stop explosions and gun play.
Each of the six levels is unique, and ultimately offers several different styles of backgrounds in each. The enemies are also different from level to level, adding a lot to the overall style of this game.
What GunGrave lacks in depth it overcompensates with style. The characters themselves are designed by Yasuhiro Nightow, who is probably best known for his work with the anime Trigun. There is no doubt that the game does a great job of making you feel like you are playing an anime, something that has been attempted, but never quite like this.
The music also fits perfectly with the general mood of the game. In the club scenes, for example, there is overpowering techno beats muting the gun shots and ultra-violence. Yet in the China town there is a really wonderful ambience that actually sounds like the background looks. And it doesn't stop there, a lot of the music actually reminds me of other anime's, most notably Akira and the Cowboy Beebop series.
Presentation wise there aren't a lot of games like GunGrave. And it almost pains me because I want to like it so much based on my love for the production value. The cut scenes are actually engaging, and beautifully acted (all in Japanese, I might add). Heck, even the intro before the title screen is as good as anything animated I've seen on the big screen recently.
Ultimately this is just an arcade game masquerading as a PlayStation 2 title. And perhaps that's exactly how it should be enjoyed and graded. Like almost every arcade game, GunGrave can be finished in a matter of hours. This can be good if you're just looking for something short and sweet to play through, or bad if you really want to get the most out of your $50.
GunGrave is a solid arcade experience, but not a fulfilling console game. It's pretty, and it sounds amazing, but it's a limited experience that is great for a rental, or when the game goes into the budget bin. I have found myself play through it a few times, especially to show friends, but there just isn't enough here to keep people interested for more than a weekend.
Hopefully Sega will see the potential and this franchise and develop a sequel that is more than just a three-hour tour.
Like the Rock, Con Air, and countless other action movies, Sega's newest action game is loud, violent, and exciting, but lacks depth. But is that all bad? Can style make up for substance? In this case it all depends on how often you frequented arcades as a kid.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!