Gungrave: Overdose Review
The Corsione family, the bad guys of this game, are releasing a super powerful drug named SEED, which is extremely addictive and ultimately fatal to the person using it. Grave, Mika and Spike set out to destroy the drug and come across two more characters, which make up the rest of the three playable people, named Juji and Billy. The game is pretty simple, you run from A to B in an arcade style, shooting as many enemies as you possibly can. The more people you kill, the more beats you gain; beats are used to fill a meter. Once the meter is full you gain a demolition shot, when you perform this special attack, a massive area of the screen is literally blown up. As you progress into the game you get more powerful shots.
Each character is different; Grave is the balanced fighter, who uses two pistols for long ranged shots and also has a coffin that is chained to his back for melee attacks, Juji specializes in close up attacks utilizing his sword and gun combo weapon and Billy performs powerful long range attacks using an electric guitar. With these different characteristics, it's best to play a level as all of them before making up your mind on who you prefer. The only problem with this is that they all run one story, every level is exactly the same, and every enemy is the same and so on. Because of this, sometimes it feels like levels have been designed purely for Grave, and if you were to play with either Juji or Billy, the level may seem ridiculously easy or hard.
Grave faces all different kinds of enemies ranging from humans, to robots and monsters which have been affected by different kinds of SEED. As well as the regular grunts, there are two kinds of bosses; end of level bosses and "mini" bosses. Mini bosses are scattered around every level and are tougher than regular grunts, but are not as tough as an end of level boss. End of level bosses tend to be relatively easy, but take a lot more thought and strategy than the seemingly simple mini bosses. The models of the enemies are well designed and get even better as the game progresses.
The simplicity of this game is perfect for people who just want to run around shooting and killing without giving it much thought at all. Although the game is based on an anime, the story is easy to follow and you don't really need to know that much about the anime before playing the game, making it enjoyable for anyone who loves this kind of game. The game would take an average player about five to ten hours to complete once, and once completed you can then complete the game again with another character. There are nine stages in all, and each stage is split up every now and again by save points. There are no lives at all, but if you die you go back to the beginning of the last room you entered or the last save point. However, you have a shield bar as well as a standard health bar, which is reminiscent of the Halo games. Your shield will deplete before your health, but can also be regenerated, unlike the health bar. So you won't find yourself dying very often.
The graphics are made in an anime style that looks and feels like a cartoon. However, this is not cell-shading, unlike its predecessor, yet it still attains the look it is trying to achieve. The cut scenes look amazing, but this cannot generally be said about the whole game. Most of the levels and enemy designs are basic, and there are a fair amount of jaggies within the game, but there is not too much focus on the visuals within the game, so it is easy to look past. Another problem within battle is that when too many objects are on screen, namely objects firing at you, there may be a small amount of slowdown.
The audio is very basic indeed, with little to no in-game music and generic gun shot sounds, this is one of the few aspects of the game that needs to be improved a lot. There are both English and Japanese dubs to the game, so players have the choice on whether they want to put up with the dub or use subtitles. Personally, I used the English dub, because even though it isn't the best voice acting in games, it's bearable.
Overall the game is very enjoyable and easy to pick up and play. With a story that's interesting and game play that is simple but fun, you'll get hooked pretty quickly. There are some issues and flaws which could have been easily avoided, and whilst the game sometimes lacks substance, it makes up for it with other fun aspects. The game itself isn't really that long, and all though there are three different characters to play as, you may find yourself only playing through once with your favorite character of the three. Therefore the game is probably best to be rented, but with a low price tag, it might be worth picking up.
9/9/2005 Bill Long