GUNGRAVE VR Review10/12/2018
I often wonder when we will reach the point of going back for nostalgia sake that we are pulling whatever we can. Now, I will be the first to admit that there are tons of games that I would see the light of day again. Squaresoft made the sword-fighting game Bushido Blade for the original PlayStation, and boy oh boy did I LOVE that game. How about a modern day Legend of Dragoon? To take it further, I can think of plenty of games people would love on VR! The problem, of course, is that not every game needs to come back, or rather, they shouldn’t come back. It is a sad truth that Gungrave VR is among that list of games that would have done well to stay in the past for nostalgia’s sake.
Gungrave VR is the sequel to Gungrave: Overdose, a third-person shooter, and sequel to the original Gungrave that launched on PS2 in 2004. The only problem though is that if you took VR out of the equation and went back in a time machine to show Gungrave VR to those fans, they would not be able to tell that this is a game that would be out 14 years and two console generations later. The graphics are nothing to write home about. To be fair, I don’t necessarily base an entire games playability on the graphics, I am just disappointed in a late PlayStation 4 title looking like a PlayStation 2 game.
Fans of the series are going to be sadly disappointed in what feels to be a minimalist effort in cashing in a long-gone series. I do honestly believe that asking $40 for this game is extremely steep. I was able to play the game in a little over an hour. There are a grand total of 5 levels, some of which are completable in under 10 minutes. There is an odd mix of 1st person and 3rd person spots in the game. The difference is that when you are playing in 3rd person, you have full movement available to while being in 1st person, you are confined to a single area. More than being exciting to go into these individual spots, it felt like there was no clear direction in the game’s layout.
As far as the actual gameplay itself, I personally found the 3rd person more enjoyable to play in. There is a pretty decent tutorial that will teach you all the fundamentals of how to play. You use the DualShock 4 controller to perform all the action and you aim the crosshairs with your head. You have your guns that can fire once or if you hold down the button will rapid fire. You have to be careful with firing too much as it does cause your guns to overheat. If enemies get too close for comfort, you have a basic melee attack that does ok damage as well as knockback projectiles, such as missiles, at their masters. After connecting so many shots, you can do a couple different special attacks that can make all the difference in boss battles.
The enemies are pretty generic and you see the same enemies throughout the game. I was pretty excited that in the 3rd level, they introduced a couple of new enemies, but that was short lived as I didn’t see them for the rest of the game. I would say the most exciting parts of each level was getting to the end bosses of each level. This was the only time I ever felt challenged because I would actually have to use some form of strategy. Of all the levels though, level 4 was my favorite as it took place in the sky with me fighting to blow up a blimp piece by piece! Although even that level had a weird flow to it as the blimp would randomly fly away and you fought against a small group of enemies, rinse and repeat.
What did bother me tremendously though was how glitchy the game is. I lost track of how many times I would be fighting a group of enemies and enemies would simply disappear, only to reappear a minute later! It may be a case of too much activity happening on the screen, but even so, that tends to get frustrating when they are firing missiles at you and those become invisible!! To go along with glitches, I had a lot of issues with using the Guns properly. The game utilizes a feature, that I was not particularly thrilled with, in which your guns overheat after prolonged usage. It’s fine, guns heat up in real life. The issue I had with these guns was that they were not consistent with how fast they heated up or how fast they cooled down. I would have moments in which I would be firing the gun for 10-15 seconds and they would overheat, but then, later on, I was able to fire my gun for at least 30 seconds before they over-heated. As a major part of formulating strategy in boss fights, it would be great if this could be balanced out in a future patch. Last but not least with glitches, I had multiple occasions in which I simply would not shoot bullets! Before you ask, yes I made sure my guns were not over-heated, they simply wouldn’t fire. I had to pause the game or restart the level before I could continue. Again though, this is a glitch that could be explored by the developers and possibly patched.
As far as the expansion that comes with the purchase of Gungrave VR, U.N. is better in some ways, but so much worse in others. Oddly enough, the developers decided to not change up the main menu in any kind of way, but more importantly, they decided to add side-scrolling to the game. It plays in the same way as the main game in which you use your head to aim. Ultimately, it does nothing to make the game more exciting. However, it does give the player about 30-45 minutes of extra gameplay. So even after all is said and done, you still only get a maximum of an hour and a half between the 2 games.
I had high hopes going into Gungrave VR. I’m like most people and love to see old series get another shot at life in a sprawling world of different game series. It is unfortunate that Gungrave didn’t seem to get the attention it needed though, which is proof by how rough the game flows and the sub-standard gameplay. I like to think though that there is still SOME promise. Some of the glitches can be patched, but I don’t know that it would be enough to fix the bigger picture. Hopefully, a developer will pick it up and give it the treatment it deserves. For now, though, I have no doubt in mind that the price point of the game makes Gungrave VR 100% not worth it.