Gungrave G.O.R.E (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Albert Lichi 23.11.2022

Review for Gungrave G.O.R.E on Xbox Series X/S

In the early and mid-2000s, lots of mid-level Japanese developers could risk putting out a stylish action game. There were a lot during this time. There was Bujingai: The Forsaken City, Nanobreaker, Red Ninja, Shinobi, Samurai Western and there were a ton of very low budget 3D action games from the "Simple Series". It was a wild west for stylish combo-driven games. This was the time when Yasuhiro Nightow's Trigun manga and anime was at its peak popularity - and while there was never a game adaptation, the world got Gungrave and Gungrave: Overdose. These were two 3D stylish action games that emphasized shooting over melee combat. After a lengthy hiatus, gamers got a VR spin-off and now everyone can finally see what has become of Brandon Heat, AKA Beyond the Grave. Has the nearly-two-decade gap been worth the wait? Find out in Cubed3's review of Gungrave G.O.R.E.!

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a game with a lot of guts. It is not just because the protagonist is a relentless murder-machine whose gunfire is like a long-range human meat-grinder - it's due to how closely it picks up after the events of Gungrave: Overdose. Tucked away in the menus is a "Previously On" video that explains the events leading up to G.O.R.E.. For anyone who has never played any Gungrave games before, the plot is a surprisingly dense crime-drama with sci-fi elements. There are questionable allegiances between crime syndicates, experimental drugs that turn men into monsters and friends becoming enemies.

At the centre of the plot is Grave, a man who was once an elite member of the Millennion family. Through a series of Frankenstein-ian experiments, he has been brought back to life as a mute killer who requires regular blood transfusions. Nobody knows what goes on in is head anymore. He sometimes shows signs he knows more than he is leading on, but he is always a man of no words. This kind of protagonist is refreshing in an era where gamers are inundated with quippy and snarky characters who constantly chatter. At times it almost seems like Grave might not even be interested in the events surrounding him and is only interested in the same thing that gamers want; "when do I get to blow away some bad hombres?"

Screenshot for Gungrave G.O.R.E on Xbox Series X/S

Just like its PlayStation 2's forefathers, Gungrave G.O.R.E. wastes no time in setting the player loose and to let them wreak utter bedlam. As the game begins, players who are new to Gungrave will need some time to understand its systems. G.O.R.E. may look like a third-person shooter, but it is not like any shooter made since Gungrave: Overdose. Grave's combat style requires no accuracy. Gamers only need to point him in a general direction of a target and hammer the right trigger and he will fire shots that will always land, and he will shoot as fast as the trigger is pulled. This becomes more complex as levels become denser, more enemies varieties are introduced and more of them will swarm Grave.

Enemy variety is a large reason why this combat system has complexity. Sometimes shooting and dive-shots won't be enough to dispatch foes - especially since G.O.R.E. will send an army in a single area to send Grave back to the grave. Players won't have to worry about ammo but trying to stay alive when there are 20 thugs shooting at once with different weapons and some with shields will nudge users into having to improvise. Grave has several techniques to even the playing field; taking a hostage and using them as a meat-shield is a classic and he can also perform his own version of a glory kill to restore some HP.

Screenshot for Gungrave G.O.R.E on Xbox Series X/S

Most importantly, Grave's massive coffin weapon is his only hope for victory. This massive and pointy casket is not only fun for bludgeoning mobsters, but also can reflect enemy rockets back to their sender - but wait! There's more! The coffin is also a devastating weapon of mass destruction and is often the last line of offence when dispatching a large swath of goons. The combat in Gungrave G.O.R.E. is almost the same as it was on PlayStation 2: maintaining a combo requires landing shots to build up the "beat" counter. If a couple of seconds go by, the counter resets back to zero. Having a count higher than 50 allows Grave to use more advanced techniques. Even more importantly, having a high combo fills a meter that gives Grave a coffin charge. The charges are the cost to use the demolition attacks. There are a lot to unlock, and some require more than one charge. Some of these can clear what is only in front of Grave, others concentrate damage in one local area, and there are even a few that are long reaching. There are demolition attacks for all kinds of situations, and they are best used in a pinch when HP is low or when up against too many goons.

The visceral kinesthetics of the gunplay and urgency of maintaining high combos is the appeal of Gungrave G.O.R.E.. There are no puzzles, nothing to collect or any reason to explore. The levels have to be linear and maze-like to support the break-neck gameplay. For some gamers, this can understandably be disappointing. The game loop is very much inspired by arcade sensibilities and the constant shunting forward can become exhausting.

Screenshot for Gungrave G.O.R.E on Xbox Series X/S

The music in Gungrave G.O.R.E. is best described as wailing sirens and boisterous EDM. There is a slight old west twang to some of the calmer tracks. Most of the music sounds angry and charged - at least that's what can be barely made out from the explosions, flesh ripping and gunfire. For the most part, Gungrave G.O.R.E. is very loud and sounds like a war in a German discotheque.

By far the most impressive aspect of Gungrave G.O.R.E. is its graphics. The visuals are very stylish, and characters have exaggerated features. Everyone feels huge, with proportions that resemble action figures. The intense colours and neon-soaked environments are striking. Character modelling is impressive; with lots of rounded edges and small details that suggest that a lot of artists worked on this game. Despite the game being so intensely linear, stages have a shocking amount of geometric density. Repeating assets are kept to a minimum and everything feels unique.

Screenshot for Gungrave G.O.R.E on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Gungrave G.O.R.E.'s gameplay won't be for everyone and most gamers who never played the last few games on PlayStation 2 will be lost. The constant combat can wear some people down and the sound of guns blazing becomes white noise after several minutes. Replay value is high - Grave's stats and abilities can be upgraded and there is more than just Grave to play as. Gungrave G.O.R.E. is definitely an acquired taste, but gamers who do have a taste for this brand of carnage will be in for a feast. This is the biggest and longest entry in the series, easily clocking past the 15-hour range. It borders on being excessive with how many stages there are, but this may be the final Gungrave, and it's great to carry that coffin again.




Prime Matter





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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