If you're craving some seriously intense shooting action, the best bet is to look beyond these shores and take a peek over at Japan. There is some maniacal stuff going on over there, but to save you those import fees, Mastiff has localized one of the most intense4 games of them all, Gungrave Overdose
It's a full-fledged sequel from the original Gungrave
and manages to up the ante in every direction possible. Want a game that rewards thousands of bullets being shot and incredibly wanton destruction? This is the one for you.
Gungrave Overdose is a game that has a warning for epileptics and this warning is not meant to be taken lightly. The action is based strongly on tapping the square button at a furious pace to keep up a steady stream of bullets firing off at the enemies. Combine a billion bullets with enemies running around and a hero that moves around like a spastic on a sugar rush and the results are literally dizzying. Unless you're the one actually playing the game, it's quite possible that watching the action will make you sick.
The sickening action takes place in several different environments that are filled with destructible elements. One scene starts off in a supermarket that has aisles that are stocked with food. By the time all the destruction has been done, several enemies have been killed, all of the aisles have been obliterated, and even the pillars in the room have been torn to shreds. It's like the lobby scene from The Matrix, but much more extensive and on an even larger scale. Just like that movie, Gungrave Overdose features a few different heroes that are armed to the teeth.
The original Gungrave featured a hero named Beyond the Grave ("Grave" to his friends), an undead hero who carries two serious handguns and sports a coffin that's chained to his arms. The guns were for shooting and the coffin is for swinging in close combat. He's back this time, but this time around there are two other fighters to choose from as well, Rocketbilly Redcadillac ("RB" for short) and Juji Kabane, who meet up with Grave at the beginning of the game. With the exception of the very first introductory/training battle, all three characters have the same set of missions to go through and deliver a different experience.
Beyond The Grave
Where Grave has the guns and coffin combo, RB and Juji have similar attacks with some variation going on. RB shoots blasts of electricity from his guitar and swings his guitar around for a melee attack. The big difference for him is that the electricity shoots around at the nearest object unless he locks onto an object. Juji on the other hand is very different from the others. Juji has a couple of handguns, but his skills are more with the two swords that he carries around. Instead of jumping, he dashes around the room for some more controlled attacks. His bullets take care of some of the business, but it's all about the slicing.
All three of the heroes have the option of charging up an attack, with gun charges for Grave and RB and a sword charge for Juji, but they also have a Demolition Shot as well. By building up a series of "beats" in the game, players can earn more and more Demolition Shots. These beats are received by hurting an enemy or causing damage to the environment. By keeping up a continuous stream of damage, the beat counter can easily get into the hundreds and the Demolition Shots rack up with a maximum of four that can be stockpiled.
Where Gungrave was content to have four different Demolition Shots, Gungrave Overdose delivers three kinds of shots, each with three levels of intensity. Starting out, each character only has one Demolition Shot and will eventually earn the other eight by earning skulls in the end of level screen that tallies up a score according to the speed, remaining health, enemies killed, and a few other qualifications. Basically, the more ass you kick, the faster you'll be pulling off the serious tricks.
The names of the different Demolition Shots may vary from character to character, but the effect is pretty similar. The first type of Demolition Shot is a powerful blast that shoots forward and damages everything within sight. The second type will spin the character around and shoot bullets in all 360 degrees, useful for some crowd control. The final type starts a form of bullet time where all the enemies suffer from the demons of slowness while the hero can run around and cause some serious damage.
Each level of Demolition Shot increases the damage that the shot will do, but they also come at an increased cost. The second level shot will require two Demolition Shots worth of energy and the third level will require three Demolition Shots worth of energy. While it was fun to pull out the big guns from time to time and see the extra cool effects, for the most part the single level shots are the workhorses of the game.
Beyond Two Hours
With all of the weapons and shots to work with, the game provides several different levels of enemies to get through. One of the biggest problems with the first game was that it could be finished off in a couple of hours the first time through it. Thankfully, that issue's been addressed here and with all of the story elements combined with the action the fist playthrough can easily go over six hours. Once players get the hang of it and skip all the dialogue, this can easily be knocked down to four hours or less. If the initial runthrough isn't enough, the extra Demolition Shots that have been unlocked as well as the option to play with different characters easily provide a good reason to go through the whole thing at least one or two more times.
Kick Some Ass
The total feeling of Gungrave Overdose is that of complete and utter ridiculousness that could almost be considered overkill. Amazingly enough, it even goes beyond the benchmark of lunacy that was set by the original. The speed of the game has been amped up well beyond what it was before and that makes for an utterly frenetic experience. With the new characters and the larger set of levels this one is for those who want a game that makes absolutely no apologies about being one of the craziest games out there. The only question is that if you can make sense of what's going on, you'll probably enjoy this game all the way through. Of course, making sense can sometimes be difficult to do.
With the jump in speed here in Gungrave Overdose, the graphics look to have become simper than before with some rougher textures. The camera is also frenetic and has a tendency to get stuck in tight areas. Unless gamers have some sort of super-human sense of videogame spatial awareness it's a given that there will be times that the action can devolve into utter confusion.
Another confusing aspect is the concept of the lock-on targeting. In theory, it's possible to lock onto a target with the L1 button and switching the target with the R1 button. In practice, this works about 10% of the time with the R1 button being used more for strafing rather than actually targeting enemies. The problem is that targets needs to be pretty close before they can be locked onto and if a locked-on target gets out of range, the lock is broken. With the constant running around in the levels, this can lead to a lot of confusion. It can also be problematic when an enemy is rushing at the hero and can only be locked onto at the last second, but only if R1 is pushed when the enemy is in range. The result is a feature that rarely works and it's sad because it adds to some of the overall confusion.
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