Gungrave: Overdose Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 2
Release date:
September 15, 2004
RED Entertainment

Gungrave: Overdose

Non-stop, high-octane slash action; all for $15.00? Sign us up.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
October 17th 2004

Besides a sea of goons of all shapes and sizes, the levels are sprinkled with boss encounters, some with multiple forms, such as the hotel manager who first takes you on with his mechanized chair, equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers, to later launch into a dual pistol duel. Breaking from the usual pattern of shooting down enemy hordes helps to keep the game interesting, and they're often the highlights of the experience. However, some are more frustrating than they should be, such as the far too easy and far too slow final battle, which takes whole eons to complete.

From the opening movie, Gungrave: OD comes loaded with style. It's especially present in the game's dramatic cell-shaded cut-scenes, which while computer animated, can nearly pass for 2D anime. The rest of the story is told though still portraits that change depending on the speaker's mood; a familiar hallmark of RED's Sakura Taisen series. It's a pity that the environments where all the mayhem takes place lack much in the way of visual flair, almost looking as if they belong to a previous console generation. The enemies look better in general, though you can still count their polygons. Not having to share their polys, the bosses, however, look suitably impressive, as do the three playable characters as they mix it up with a wide variety of attack animations, especially their larger than life Demolition Shots.

On the audio side of things, the original Japanese language track was removed and replaced with an English dub. That's normally something to dread, but the dubbing here is top-notch work, from the uncertain yet determined voice of Mika to the bitter soldier Juji. Even Grave's single line has just the right tone to it, and helped make the end of the game immensely satisfying. Far above the call of duty for a budget release.

In keeping with the arcade-ish feel, Gungrave: OD is short. My first run through clocked in at a little over four hours, and I was taking my time. Rushing straight through and skipping the cut-scenes will slice that time in half. Knowing this might leave the average player feel cheated, RED loaded Gungrave: OD down with replay value. Besides the three playable characters and four difficulty levels, there's a myriad of options and extras to unlock, such as increasing shot power and a boss rush mode. The problem is the unlocking process is a slow one, and a complete run through of the game might only net you a single option. You can also only play one character at a time, with a single save slot to keep track of your progress. I would have been far happier with the ability to choose my undead avatar before each mission, even if that would have reduced the replay value.

In the end, whether or not you should give Gungrave: OD a try is a simple decision. If you like shooting things, but don't want to get arrested for it, this game should definitely be in your collection.

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