Greetings, all! Last week took us to a bug infested world with sketchy controls.
This week ups the ante in terms of sheer chaos.
GunGrave: Overdose was released in 2004 for the PS2. A sequel to the cult PS2 game GunGrave, players started out playing as Beyond The Grave ("Grave" for short), an undead hitman tasked with protecting Mika Asagi, a girl from his past. Along the way, you uncover a plot involving criminal organizations and biogenetic monsters.
Sidebar here: any GunGrave fan knows, of course, that there's more to this story than that. I count myself among those fans (in fact, GunGrave is one of my all time favorite animes). Having said that, this is about the sequel to the first game, and I'll try to avoid spoilers like I always do.
Anyone who played the first game way back in the day knows the premise behind the gameplay. You walk into a room as the hulking, cowboy-dressed coffin-carrying Grave and blast everything that moves with your twin Cerberus handguns. Now, the first game had some cool moments, but ultimately it was too slow and far too short. You never really felt the power the character was supposed to have.
Overdose, comparatively, was a breath of fresh air. From the opening graveyard sequence, you immediately feel like the badass you're supposed to be. Grave moves much faster than he did in the original, and each blast from your twin handguns lets out a satisfying boom. Not to mention swinging the coffin Grave carries on his back, which is useful for clearing out enemies who've gotten too close. You can even hide behind it if you want, allowing you to catch a breath.
Which you might just have too now and then. Overdose is absolutely relentless when it comes to the sheer amount of enemies you face. Goons pour out of every opening in every level, giving you literally thousands of bad guys to blast. They won't just stand there and tak it, however. Enemy AI is more or less nonexistent, but they will fire and move, so it's not exactly a shooting gallery. In the end, though, you're more likely to be overwhelmed by numbers than individual enemy power. Massive boss battles break up the flow, and a couple will really test you.
Thankfully, you've got a couple options when it comes to fighting back. In addition to the twin guns and coffin, Grave also has access to screen clearing supers that only get more powerful as you earn skill points (sadly, you can exploit this by doing constant melee attacks. Alas.) From a rocket that focuses on one enemy, to a spinning machine gun attack, each super has a situation it's best suited for.
The health system bears a mention too. Basically, you have a shield bar and a health bar. The shield takes damage and recovers, while the health bar takes damage once the shield runs out, and does not recover. I always thought it was interesting, and a nice counter-argument to refilling health a'la Call of Duty.
As I said, though, because of all the enemies, you're gonna spend most of the time shooting. I mean, hammering the Square button constantly, while running around dodging the hail of bullets being fired at you. That's really the best way to describe the game, actually, as a sheer adrenaline rush. You really feel the power this time. When you charge up a shot and let it go, the shell slams into an enemy with considerable force that you can feel through the TV. When you unleash your machine gun special in a supermarket, every single aisle, shelf, and display is reduced to rubble.
There's also a bit of replay value, too, in the form of two extra playable characters. Jyuji Kabane is a blind swordsman with two unusual gun-swords, allowing him to shoot, but he's more of a melee character. And Rocketbilly Redcadillac is...a ghost with a guitar as a weapon. They're both entertaining to play, and you'll see slightly different cutscenes, so it's worth fooling around with.
Oh, and what's really crazy is, when this high-octane, relentless action game was first released, it went for only $14.99 new.
Pictures really don't do this game justice, so here's a random gameplay video giving you a taste of what you can expect-
As you can see, it's not the best looking PS2 game, but it has an art style all its own. Audio is fantastic, with solid voice acting and a killer jazz tune during the intro. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of background music during the actual game.
So if you're a fan of games that don't let up, nonstop action, and anime, GunGrave Overdose is definitely a solid choice. If it gets you into the anime, so much the better. The game and anime are in fact the creation of Yasuhiro Nightow, who anime fans know as the creator of Trigun. Gungrave is of similar quality, and personally I think it's better.
As usual, comments and future Game of The Week suggestions are more than welcome!
Thanks to IGN for the images.
Next week, we'll check out an RPG some of you may have missed. A colorful one with a beautiful soundtrack.