Gungrave VR Review – A Grave Attempt (PS4)
Remember Gungrave? You’d be forgiven if you don’t, as the last game, Gungrave: Overdose released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2. Developer XSEED Games felt the time was right to bring this series to the forefront of interactive entertainment and have released Gungrave VR for the PlayStation VR. Does such a transition even make sense for a third-person shooter? The answer may surprise you in our Gungrave VR review.
Shorter Than My Commute
A lot of current VR titles are shorter in length. This could be due to the nascent nature of the technology, as developers and publishers attempt to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and perhaps more importantly, what sells. Gungrave VR only features five linear levels, each of which will take most gamers under 10 minutes apiece to clear. So, most people are looking at under an hour of total gameplay, which can be extended with three difficulty settings per level, which mostly makes enemies bullet sponges while weakening the main character, who goes by the name Beyond the Grave.
Gungrave VR apparently takes place right after the events of the original game. I say apparently because outside of an initial “cutscene” consisting of narrated text, there is no real plot to speak of. Each of the five levels exist in complete isolation from one another, with nothing to link the locations together. It’s hard to even figure out what, exactly, is going on story-wise. Three of the five levels are traditional third-person shooting levels, but with controls that feel like they were ripped out of the PS2 days. Grave can only move in eight directions, while the camera is locked to moving in increments of 15 degrees. This is perhaps to help prevent motion sickness, and requires multiple flicks of the right analog stick to turn more than once. This is a slow process, but thankfully the player’s aiming reticle is controlled by physically moving their head. The other two levels are first-person affairs, one an on-rails portion, and the other a mix of on-rails with a touch of bullet hell mixed in. These are arguably Gungrave VR’s better sections, though they unfortunately showcase some of the worst graphics of the game.
Not Much to Look At
VR games often have lower-resolution assets, since the console must render two frames (one per eye) simultaneously, while maintaining a higher-than-average frame rate. Gungrave VR manages to achieve a high frame rate, at the expense of graphics. While Grave’s character model looks decently detailed, most everything else disappoints. Other character models are blocky, while environments are often bland, generic buildings. At least those looking for nostalgic-inducing graphics will be reminded of the game’s PS2 origins. Constantly.
Audio work isn’t much better. Gungrave VR is fully voiced, of course, but there aren’t many spoken lines to begin with. Enemies make generic death sounds, and are otherwise silent, while Grave hardly makes a peep. The soundtrack consists of heavily looping, generic action game audio, which could be used in just about any game in this genre.
More Expensive Than the Last
There are usually unlockables in third-person action games. In the case of Gungrave VR, it appears there is a single unlockable. If players manage to earn an SS ranking on all five levels at the Normal difficulty setting, then they can unlock the ability to play as Grave when he was alive and then known as Brandon Heat. Outside of the main game, the tutorial area can also be visited, where there is little to do: players can move around and shoot some targets, or restart the short and simple tutorial. Once again, there’s not much offered up to players.
Gungrave VR is a generic shooter wrapped in the new-tech allure of VR. For fans of the 16-year-old PS2 series, this will no doubt bring up some nostalgic feelings. But the incredibly small amount of content on offer will turn off most gamers looking for a fuller experience. The launch price of $29.99 isn’t doing the game any favors, either. This is an especially poor launch price when you consider that the last game launched at a $15 price point, and lasted at least five times longer. Only the most hardcore Gungrave fans may want to check out Gungrave VR at this time. Everyone else can afford to wait for a sale.
Gungrave VR review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.