Review by Metal Gear Biscuit

Reviewed: 09/20/05

Beyond the Grave: Gungrave OD is everything a sequel should be.

At it's heart, Gungrave was a very simple, yet devilishly addictive shoot 'em up. Gameplay would last, at most, a few hours, and the only reason to replay the game was for the chance to beat your previous high scores. While the game was quite entertaining, it ends up permanently tucked on your game shelf only a few days after you start playing it. Not so with Gungrave: Overdose. Gungrave: OD is everything that a sequel should be. It takes everything that the first installment of the series did right and expounds on it, all the while taking the more forgettable things and throwing them to the curb. In this manner, Gungrave: Overdose comes across twice as polished, twice as fun, and twice as explosive as the first game, not to mention much, much longer.

The story of OD is one of it's weakest points, but still provides plenty of twists and surprises, and remains entertaining enough to support it's own part of the vastly enjoyable game. The story revolves around Mika Asagi, the female protagonist of the previous Gungrave, and her goal to rid the world of Seed, a dangerous and incredibly addictive narcotic. Mika is accompanied on her journey by Spike Hubie, a genius child with amnesia. Spike helps Mika out through the use of his various inventions and keen intellect. The pair are no fighters however, and when Mika is backed into a corner by Orgmen, humanoid beings controlled by Seed, she is forced to call upon her undead bodyguard: Beyond the Grave.

The game gets off to a slow start as Mika, gives Grave a tutorial on how to fight using his new equipment. While this does drag on, it can be shut-off for future play-throughs via an options menu. After you become familiar with making Grave fight the many villains of OD, you are moved to a more challenging level.

Grave, now inside of a hotel, must make his way through countless gun toting baddies in order to move on through the hotel to his goal of mafia kingpins trafficing Seed. For those still not accustomed to the controls, this can be a hassle, as the hotel is literally swarming with gunmen looking to take out Grave. These range from average sized people firing away at Grave with assault weaponry, massive men with massive guns, swordsmen, and even people toting shields and rocket launchers. Once you have adequately learned the controls however, none of them should give you much trouble. After deflecting a few rockets back at their owners and taking out some swordsmen with a swing of your Grave, you'll feel right at home with the controls.

The fighting in Gungrave is obviously it's biggest draw. While doing nothing incredibly different or new, Gungrave: OD manages to entertain by keeping things simple. One button for guns, another for using the melee coffin weapon, and one more the Demolition Shot. While pressing a single button and shooting enemies doesn't sound like fun, there are very few moments in Gungrave: OD in which Grave is allowed to simply stand and fire. The majority of Grave's fighting experience will involve Grave running and shooting, leaping and shooting, dancing and shooting (my personal favorite), and various combinations thereof. With the inordinate amount of people trying to kill Grave and make him stay dead for good, standing around won't get you very far. Grave must run around, dodge, attack, and destroy all while avoiding the weapons and attacks of hundreds of enemies. Roaming through entire levels of this kind of action is what makes Gungrave: Overdose so tense and exciting.

Gungrave: Overdose's most entertaining feature, to both use and unlock, is the Demolition Shot. By scoring consecutive hits on enemies, Grave racks up special points called 'Beats'. When your Beat gauge fills up sufficiently, you gain a Demolition Shot ammo, which allows you to use a Demolition Shot. Grave starts the game with a single Demolition Shot, and as the game progresses, he gains several more Demolition Shots differing in power and effect. Each Demolition Shot allows Grave to deal out massive damage on his enemies, and at the same time refills Grave's shielding. More notably, each Demolition Shot is accompanied by a short scene detailing Grave's actions. Some of the larger Demolition Shot are truly awe-inspiring to watch as Grave dishes out punishment to his enemies. While I didn't receive every Demolition Shot on my first time through, I knew once I was done with Gungrave: OD that I had to go back again to get them all.

The sound in Gungrave: Overdose was another area in which the game really shined. The music fit the game perfectly, from the high tempo song that plays in the promo and various places throughout the game to the end credits, each and every song used in OD made OD feel more alive, ironic for a game such as Gungrave: OD. The dubbing too was well done, the great Cam Clarke and Steve Blum lending their voice talents to OD, amongst others. Each member of the cast made every cut scene interesting and well worth watching. This proved important too, because Overdose proved plenty full of cutscenes. Divvying up the game, the cutscenes add emotion, drama, and in some cases, incredible amounts of kickass moments to a game already comprised of them.

While the villains of the game don't come across as incredibly bright, they do come in numbers, which more than makes up for any AI problems. The game keeps you interested by always keeping you on your toes, each minute wondering what's going to come at you next. As the player gets further and further into the game, the enemies just keep on getting bigger, and Grave has nothing more than his twin guns, his coffin, and most importantly, his Demolition Shot to keep him safe. It's up to you, as the gamer to make it all the way through. Luckily for you, it is a hell of a ride.

Graphics ~ 8/10 Gungrave doesn't rely much on it's graphics, but in terms of achieving that anime look, they couldn't have done much better. As before mentioned, some of the cutscenes and Demolition Shots are well worth the replay just to see

Sound ~ 9/10 Excellent music and great dubbing really define this game, although the noises you'll hear most will be the gunfire emanating from Grave's twin guns.

Gameplay ~ 10/10 Incredibly fun and addictive, the gameplay is Gungrave: Overdose's main draw. Run around, shoot 'em up, beat 'em down. All together it's fun as hell.

Story ~ 7/10 Although the story takes a backseat to the action at times, it remains a constant throughout the game and leads to a satisfying conclusion.

Replay Value ~ 10/10 With plenty of unlockables and extras, you'll be playing Gungrave: Overdose for weeks.

Overall ~ 9/10 An immensely fun game. This is easily the best anime related game I have ever had the privilege to play. If you're a fan of anime or gun games, I highly recommend this game to you.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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