Review – Gungrave VR

I’m not going to lie; I knew nothing about Gungrave before tackling Gungrave VR, a brand new PSVR exclusive published by XSEED. It took me a while to find out this is not only a sequel to a series of games released for the PS2 that garnered enough interest to be transformed into an anime, but also a prequel of an upcoming third mainline game in the franchise, slated for the PS4 in the near future. My lack of knowledge towards the fact Gungrave is an actual franchise made me tackle this VR title with a totally open mind, having no idea what to expect. I soon found out that, while far from a terrible game like other reviews claimed, this game isn’t anything else other than filler for the PSVR’s growing library.

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‘Sup Thanos.

With a game called Gungrave VR, you’d expect this to be yet another shooting gallery for the PSVR. You’re not right, but you’re not wrong either. This game features both static first-person levels that resemble a poor man’s House of the Dead, as well as free-roaming third-person shooter levels; a first for the system.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The first-person levels are as obvious and uninspiring as any other shooting gallery game or mode available for the PSVR, but with a disappointing twist: it’s not PS Move compatible. This is a static shooting gallery in which you aim with your head, shoot with the right trigger and reload your weapon with the left bumper. Just like your least favorite arcade memories of the 90’s, there are tons of enemies that’ll constantly attack you without a way of properly dodging said attacks.

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I hope I’m hitting whatever’s behind this cloud of fire and bullets.

I know I have said in the past that I’m all for games with less emphasis on motion controls, such as Zone of the Enders, but at the very least that game had you inside a cockpit at all times. The sole fact of being inside a robot was immersive enough. This game doesn’t have the same excuse. You aim with your head and watch some (granted, very cool) animations of an edgy bounty hunter shooting his guns. It’s far from exciting, especially when you can play games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood on the same system. Thankfully, there’s a saving grace in Gungrave VR: the third-person levels.

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How did a game like this remind me of Astro Bot more than once?

Those levels are even less immersive than the shooting gallery sections, but they were by far the most entertaining bits the game had to offer. The game throws you into a small arena in which you need to constantly move around, dodge enemies, and attack them with your gun and a huge coffin that you carry around for some damn reason. Once more, you use your head to aim and the right trigger to shoot, but there’s a lot more to do in these levels. Enemies are hidden throughout the stage and you need to properly find them with your own eyes in order to aim at them and kill them. In a way, this actually reminded me of the clever usage of the player’s own sight in Astro Bot.

That is the best praise I can give to Gungrave VR. Sadly, there are very few third-person levels in this game. As a matter of fact, the entire game is stupidly short. You can beat everything in less than ninety minutes. If the entirety of Gungrave VR revolved around these levels, with a ton more variety and length, I would have easily considered it one of the most underrated gems available for the PSVR. I would have easily ignored its PS3-ish visuals and mediocre sound design. Sadly, it ended up being just half of an already shallow package.

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Another shooting gallery for the PSVR. Whoopty Freakin’ Doo…

I was expecting a lot worse from Gungrave VR. I thought it was going to be a disaster akin to Bravo Team or the terrible One Piece game for PSVR. It ended up being okay, sometimes even being very entertaining, but there’s no denying that it missed its mark on more than one occasion, focusing too much on some really uninspired game modes and not focusing enough in what was actually entertaining. This could have been a showcase on how to create third-person shooters for the PSVR. It ended up being just another title that brought absolutely nothing new to the table, just more filler for the system…

 

Graphics: 6.0

Looks like a PS3 game at best, but it does run at a decent framerate and features some moderately varied environments.

Gameplay: 7.5

The lack of PS Move support for the shooting gallery stages is a major disappointment, but I won’t deny that the controls work very well in the game, even though it takes little advantage of the PSVR at all.

Sound: 5.0

This is one of those games that feature a soundtrack so plain and uninteresting you can’t even remember there was a soundtrack to begin with. The voice acting is just fine. Nobody shines, but nobody delivers a bad performance either.

Fun Factor: 5.5

Even though the free-moving stages are actually quite fun, Gungrave VR has very little overall content to offer. It also features some horrendous loading times.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Gungrave VR is available now on PSVR.

Reviewed on PSVR.

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