Out of all of the older games I expected to see getting a modern facelift on PlayStation VR, Gungrave wasn’t one of them. I mean, it didn’t really set the world on fire when it originally released, so what made the developers think it would now? Regardless, it did catch my eye and I’d been looking forward to trying it out in its new virtual reality form. Unfortunately, it hasn’t hit the mark again, with Gungrave VR feeling more like an unimaginative and dated has-been than a worthy addition to the PlayStation VR catalogue.
The game sees you take on the role of Grave, a warrior who’s looking to defeat a group of enemies that are spreading the mysterious SEED drug. This means shooting and smashing away at foes, with Grave certainly well-equipped for the job. Gungrave VR is a third person shooter, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time running around, dodging enemy attacks, and then blasting foes with your own guns across five different levels. Besides shooting and melee attacks, you also have three special abilities that charge up as you vanquish foes: a special gun attack that allows you to continuously shoot enemies for a short time from a first-person view, a powerful area-of-effect attack that’ll dish out heavy damage to any enemies in Grave’s vicinity, and a slow-mo attack that sees time move slowly in order to give Grave the upper hand over his foes. You might want to disregard that slow-mo attack though – it uselessly slows down time for Grave as well, so you’re not really at any sort of advantage (and it looks horrible in-game too).
It’s all run-of-the-mill third-person shooting stuff, though it’s still something you don’t see a lot of in PlayStation VR. However, whilst unique to the platform, the dated gameplay and lack of polish see Gungrave VR faltering in most areas of design.
Gungrave VR only supports the DualShock controller, which makes a lot of sense for a third-person title. Somehow though, the developers managed to mess that up by only allowing the camera to turn at fixed angles. This means you can’t smoothly turn to target enemies, but instead see the camera shudder off to the left or right in a fixed way that not only feels disorientating but causes your aim to mess up. It completely breaks the flow of the game and makes it harder to target enemies – I just really don’t understand why the developer haven’t included some form of smooth option for turning. Other than that, it’s a basic control scheme which works well enough, but you should certainly expect to be frustrated when simply trying to turn in the game.
Levels are structured around you heading into fairly small areas, taking out a bunch of enemies and then waiting for the boss to appear. Standard enemies pose very little threat to the player with their attacks not packing a punch nor are they particularly accurate – in honesty, they just feel like they’re there to be taken down. To the game’s credit, the boss battles are a bit more enjoyable, with their attacks offering more variety and their designs actually looking pretty cool. Much like the standard enemies though, they offer little in the form of adequate opposition and are easy to take down with minimal effort from the player. All encounters are just a little bit repetitive in design too, which doesn’t really help.
Then there are the on-rails first-person sequences that have been thrown in here and there, though they’re also a bit boring. Sure, riding a bike in VR should be cool, but even that’s implemented in an unimaginative way that just sees you routinely shooting enemies over and over. After coming off of some genuinely interesting virtual reality shooters, Gungrave VR’s first-person sections are just a bit drab and don’t do much to add excitement to the repetitive third-person levels.
You’ll be done with Gungrave VR in under an hour, which isn’t great when you consider that it’s priced at £32.99. There is an expansion included in the ‘Loaded Coffin Edition’ (Gungrave VR U.N) that’ll extend your playtime by another forty minutes, but even that doesn’t really justify the high price. One thing I will say about the expansion is that its side-scrolling elements are pretty interesting and do offer something unique, though it doesn’t do anything special to suddenly make the whole package worth purchasing.
Whilst there’s not a whole lot of positive things to be said about Gungrave VR (I haven’t even mentioned the animation glitches), I’ll have to admit that I didn’t hate the game. Sure, there are a heck of a lot of better titles available on PlayStation VR right now, but it didn’t stop me having bits of fun here and there. Maybe that’s the worst thing about Gungrave VR – there’s potential for it to offer a genuinely enjoyable shooting experience, but it just falters way too much along the way.
Gungrave VR: Loaded Coffin Edition is a flawed, dated and incredibly short third-person shooting experience that does very little to make it recommendable to PlayStation VR gamers. However, despite the fact that the negatives massively outweigh its positives, I didn’t really hate the game – nothing ever felt outright broken and I’ll even admit I had a little bit of fun taking down a couple of the bosses.
It probably helps that I didn’t have to pay for the game though, with the £32.99 asking price too much for something offers so little in return. Gungrave VR: Loaded Coffin Edition might not be the worst PlayStation VR game I’ve played, but it’s definitely one that I can’t recommend that anyone purchases and that I probably won’t be returning to myself either.
Publisher: Marvelous Europe
Platform(s): PlayStation VR