Gungrave G.O.R.E Review

Richard Walker

Released for PS2 twenty years ago, the original Gungrave games weren't exactly known for their subtlety. The series' hero, Grave, has a gigantic coffin hanging off his back by a chain. This is no ordinary coffin, of course – it also happens to be a huge gun. Gun. Grave. Gungrave. See what they did there? It's been eighteen years since 2004 sequel Gungrave: Overdose brought the series to a premature end, and, seemingly, little has changed. You still blast an endless torrent of enemies, the game does the lock-on targeting for you, and Grave still wears a constant glum expression on his face. And who can blame him? Gungrave G.O.R.E is quite possibly the least fun you can have blowing stuff up.

Grave's Cerberus guns are cool, to be fair.

Things start promisingly enough. The action is immediate, fast-paced, and easy to get into, while the soundtrack is just the sort of abrasive, ear-bashing electronic dirge you'd expect. South Korean studio Iggymob does a fine job of gradually drip-feeding you the various abilities that Grave has up his sleeve, and, as such, it feels like you have a fair few moves you can bust out to keep things interesting. But no matter how much you might try to mix things up, the gameplay remains the same from beginning to end. I can honestly say, I haven't played a shooter as relentlessly bland and one-note as Gungrave G.O.R.E in a long time.

Pitting Grave against the Raven Clan, an organisation that has managed to synthesise more of the series' mind-altering super drug, 'SEED', Gungrave G.O.R.E pairs you up with Mika and her 'El Archangel' crew, as they seek to eradicate SEED and anyone propagating it. There's not a whole lot more to G.O.R.E's story than that, but from the misery of Scumland, you'll be transported to other locations across Asia, like Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. And, other than a handful of levels in which you play as different characters, the experience doesn't change – it remains unremittingly dull throughout, despite the change in scenery.


Inevitably, you'll end up in the same identikit laboratories and subterranean stretches of corridor, fighting the same old enemies, who invariably rush headlong into your bullets. This is essentially a glorified light-gun game without the light gun, and that's not a good thing. As you rack up shots by endlessly pulling the pressing R2, you'll accumulate a 'Beat Count' combo', which enables you to pull off abilities like ‘Storm Barrage’ for crowd control. This doesn't feel particularly effective, so you'll seldom use it. You can dodge, which is mostly pointless. You can unleash Demolition Abilities to help clear the screen when things get too overwhelming. You can reel in weakened enemies with Grave's 'Death Hook' and execute them. All of the key elements are there, but somehow Gungrave G.O.R.E's combat has all the depth of a puddle.

Polished, cinematic cutscenes frame the action, and, indeed, there's a style and artistry to how Gungrave G.O.R.E is presented, presumably thanks in no small part to former The Evil Within art designer Ikumi Nakamura's input. You need only look at the neon and graffiti of the game's Hong Kong region to get a sense of how good the game can look, but you've little time to stop and appreciate the scenery, as you're being railroaded through levels, following glowing yellow markers to the exit. There's no incentive to venture off the beaten track to explore either – you'll be met with dead ends and nothing else.

What? Again? OK, then…

'Kick their ass' the beginning of each Gungrave G.O.R.E level instructs. What it doesn't tell you is that this is the only objective in the game. This wouldn't be an issue were the gameplay compelling enough to sustain roughly 14 hours or so of utterly mindless blasting, but this doesn't even qualify as a guilty pleasure. It's the very definition of style over substance; a wearisome, thankless slog through interminable meat bags of varying shapes and sizes, dotted with stupid design decisions (several awful insta-fail sections, for one), and few, if any, reasons to endure its unashamedly tedious duration. Gungrave G.O.R.E might look like fun, with its brutal ultra-violence and explosions, unending procession of bullet-riddled action, and cinematic flair, but it isn't.

Gungrave G.O.R.E

Gungrave G.O.R.E looks like an uncomplicated and enjoyable arcade-style romp, but it's actually an unrepentantly dull and dated chore that will make you want to cry.

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Headache-inducing electronic and rock music, complemented by the incessant sound of your guns being fired. It’s enough to drive you to distraction.


Gungrave G.O.R.E looks cool, boasting cinematic style to spare. Environments looks rather nice, too, though some are a mite samey.


Shooting, melee attacks, dodging, special abilities, a combo counters - all of the hallmarks of an action game are there, but the action is anodyne.


A lengthy campaign that’s stretched far too thin across its 14+ hour runtime, Gungrave G.O.R.E unfortunately gets very wearisome, very fast.


Numerous progression milestones share the list with the standard 'do this 500 times', 'use that 100 times' trophies. Perfectly ok.

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