Gungrave definitely looks cool. It's also a textbook case for why great graphics don't do you much good if the underlying game is shallow.
Gungrave is an extremely short and easy third-person shooter. But it's got a lot of style. Featuring character designs by popular anime artist Yasuhiro Nightow, best known for his Trigun series, Gungrave definitely looks cool. It's also a textbook case for why great graphics don't do you much good if the underlying game is shallow.
Throughout Gungrave, you play as a mysterious, silent man called Grave, who looks like a cross between a cowboy and a vampire. He's got a few distinguishing characteristics--he's apparently a zombie, but more noticeably, he carries an enormous sarcophagus on his back, which probably explains his bad posture. Grave also sports a couple of high-powered pistols. He can fire these pistols rapidly and continuously, never once having to stop to reload. His coffinlike accessory also turns out to be a weapon. Initially it can fire a devastating rocket, but you can later unlock several other so-called "demolition shots" that are even more powerful. Gungrave consists of six short levels, which basically are all identical, in that you must make your way from point A to point B while gunning down who-knows-how-many wimpy enemies.
Actually, it's not so much that the enemies are wimpy--it's that Grave is practically unstoppable. Though you'll often find yourself in rooms filled with enemies firing at you, their attacks cause little damage, and they usually just chip away at Grave's shield meter. Much like in last year's Halo, if you can avoid getting hit for a couple of moments, your shields charge right back up to full, and you cannot be harmed as long as you have shields. This was an innovative little twist in Halo, but here, you'll never be forced into a tactical retreat to recharge. That's because, when you're in trouble, you can either use one of your demolition shots (you can build your supply of these shots up to nine just by rapidly blowing stuff up), or you can use a "recover life" ability that gives you half your health back and instantly recharges your shields. Gungrave isn't challenging even without the recharge life ability. In the rare event that you run out of health (possibly against one of the game's quick yet predictable bosses), you can restart an unlimited number of times back at a checkpoint a couple of minutes earlier.
About 10 years ago, simple action games like this gave you limited continues, didn't let you save your progress, and often forced you to restart at the beginning of a level when you died. But even if Gungrave did all that, it would still be easy. The game is a cakewalk from start to finish at the default difficulty setting, though to be fair, one of the boss battles is moderately tough on the hard setting.
The deal is, you'll fire your pistols constantly throughout the game, and the game will do the aiming for you. Just about any enemy onscreen will automatically get gunned down as you shoot, though you'll sometimes get ambushed from behind. Even then, all you have to do is turn around. Grave shoots quickly, but you only need to tap the button rhythmically to get him to shoot as quickly as possible, and you can even toggle on a rapid-fire option if that's too much trouble.