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December 2023

Gungrave G.O.R.E.

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Prime Matter
Developer: Iggymob
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2022


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Gungrave G.O.R.E.'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 28, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a stylish third-person action shooter that has you take on the role of Grave, a gunslinger of resurrection and badass anti-hero of your dreams, mowing down tons of enemies in a gory ballet of bullets.

Pre-order Gungrave G.O.R.E.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. arrives 20 years after the first game was released on the PS2 in Japan. It's surprising that a series associated with luminaries — including the creator of Trigun — only received enough of a cult following to get an anime and essentially one sequel on the PS2 (VR prologue notwithstanding). With a month to go before Gungrave G.O.R.E.'s release date, we got a chance to sample the first four levels of the new experience.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is an atypical third-person shooter. It still controls like a third-person shooter, but it has a more overt auto lock-on. You never pick up new guns, you get infinite bullets for handguns, and no reloading is necessary. Melee is slow but powerful thanks to your coffin's wide arc. Enemies are plentiful, and almost all of them are willing to be cannon fodder rather than take cover to run away from your shots. It's a button-mashing shooting gallery that is true to the spirit of the first two games.

Since we're 20 years removed from the original title, there are some additions that bring the series in line with modern expectations. Your coffin may be initially used for melee attacks, but you can also deflect rockets back at people. You can power yourself up to deliver different attack types instead of relying on a three-swing combo. The same goes for special moves when you have enough power to do so; you'll use special moves frequently because that's the only way to regain health in the game. You can pull some enemies toward you to use as human shields, and you can throw them at enemies. Damage enemies enough, and you can execute them. You can hold down the fire button to charge up a special rush shot or hold down another button after making a 50-hit combo to randomly fire bullets for imprecise crowd control. The only thing missing is the ability to hold down a button and fire; the game has the tendency to give you trigger fatigue and even carpal tunnel after one level with the amount of required shooting.

The biggest addition is something you'd normally take for granted: mobility. Grave can now perform a dodge move, and he can still shoot while doing so. He can make a small leap, but that's something you won't do too often, and you can also move while shooting. It feels like faint praise to recognize the simple act of moving and dodging, since that seems expected from just about every modern game for the last few years. It's significant here because the PS2 games stood out by not doing any of this. In the original, you'd only do a very slow walk unless you held down a button to run at a speed that seems normal to everyone else. You got that ability in the second game, but both titles still made you stand perfectly still while shooting. You did bust out some fancy poses while pulling the trigger, but you'd still have to choose between attacking and moving. While old-school players might call foul on this advancement, most players will appreciate the change.

The first four levels that we sampled took us through quite a few locations: a high-tech seed factory, a run-down series of city blocks, a large sewer system infested with mutants and giant worms, and a subway lobby. The levels feel simple, and while there are a few areas outside of the given path, there isn't a reason to venture off the path because there's nothing to pick up. Having said that, the action keeps things going; the enemy count may not be limitless, but it is plentiful enough that it's easy to build up high combos. One thing that may come as a surprise is that there are many destructible objects in the world. The explosive pieces may not damage enemies, but they make things look cool and extend a combo during the brief lull between enemy waves.

Overall, the presentation is interesting. Graphically, Gungrave G.O.R.E. ditches the cel-shaded look of the first two games in favor of a more CG anime look, and it works well. The enemy character designs are decent, but Grave and the bosses look stunning. The game makes use of ray tracing, and it enhances the game in certain areas. Those who go without will still enjoy the visuals. There's also support for DLSS and FidelityFX, so everyone can use upscaling if they don't have top-of-the-line cards. As for the audio, the voice work is fine, and the presence of three spoken languages (English, Japanese and Korean) will be a boon to anime fans. The music is eclectic, as you get moody action music followed by old techno and then rock.

If you're planning on using the Steam Deck for a portable Gungrave experience, the game currently doesn't work on the device. The latest version of Proton won't boot the game, while using Proton Experimental asks you to install elements of Windows before booting you back to the main dashboard. There's still time to get this working, so fingers crossed if you're a big fan of the portable system.

At the moment, Gungrave G.O.R.E. does exactly what it promises on its Steam page. It's all about shooting everything in your path without having to look fancy, and you are given a variety of moves to do this. It looks nice and plays well so far, and with the promise of being a game with playtime hours in the double digits, it already addresses one of the criticisms of the previous two titles. There's still a month to go before the full release, and we're hoping that the final version of the game lives up to its potential.

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