Gungrave: Overdose – PS2 – Review

What do you get when you
take Devil May Cry, remove all the puzzles, scrap the excessive hand-to-hand
combat moves, and increase the number of bullets to infinity?  Gungrave:
Overdose, an action-packed, no holds barred, no-brains-necessary game of
third-person shooting.

To sum up the gameplay, you
could turn to the brief description given in the instruction manual.  Under
"goal of the game," it tells you to defeat all the enemies.  Once that has
been accomplished a GO marker will appear on the screen, pointing you in the
direction of your next kill.  Things that absolutely must be destroyed
(barriers, specific enemies, etc.) are marked with the word "TARGET."

The description ends
there.  The manual is a bit more copious in its wording, but the general idea
is clear: this game is not about complex trials and excruciating challenges. 
It’s about killing every enemy you can get your hands on. 


Overdose accomplishes
this with a basic control scheme.  While playing as Beyond the Grave you have
infinite ammo and a slow-but-powerful coffin attack.  (He carries a coffin
wherever he goes because you never know when that sort of thing is going to
come in handy.  Especially when you’re living in a world of evil souls and
vicious killers.)  Each of the three playable characters have a basic
jump/dodge move; all adversaries can be targeted; and if you score multiple
kills in a row, your points will be increased considerably.

Devil May Cry was all
about style, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this game wants
to portray its own coolness.  Watch as the characters dance around their
victims, frequently changing their attack position just because it looks
cool.  This works well with Overdose’s story, which turned out to be much more
entertaining than I ever expected.

The first thing you
notice about any in-game movie is how good (or bad) it looks.  Overdose came
off as a very stylish, let’s-kill-the-baddies-with-a-smile kind of story, and
that’s exactly what it turned out to be.  The heroes are cocky, the bosses are
angry, and the boss minions follow directions so well that they might as well
just jump off the top of a building.  That would be a much less painful way to
die than acting as a shield as I blast my way through.

Overdose’s presentation
reminded me of Cowboy Bebop, though I’m sure there are Bebop purists out there
who would highly disagree.  The voice actors are very good.  The dialogue,
while not perfect, is satisfactory as far as the current generation of games
is concerned.  No whiny, overly annoying characters are present.  You’ll have
to deal with some story annoyances, but they’re a far cry from the garbage
that most anime puts us through. 

I am all-powerful!! 

This brings to mind
another point: Gungrave: Overdose is one of the rare games where I don’t
immediately skip the movie sequences.  From the very beginning there was
something about them that made me want to keep watching.  The story takes up a
big portion of the game (nearly an hour is spent developing it), so it
wouldn’t have been easy to forget if it were forgettable.  Bad movies tend to
leave a longer-lasting impression than you might at first think.  The stories
presented in games are no different.

Technologically Gungrave:
Overdose is dated, but you won’t know it looking at all the cool effects the
game demonstrates.  The constant use of bright colors (reds, blues,
explosions, etc.) and exaggerated weapon effects make it hard to look away
from the screen.  It’s all very anime, which is perfect considering how much
the game wants to be part of the anime universe.  The animations are great,
especially those created for the boss battles.  The disgruntled look on their
faces is pretty rewarding.  Their attempts to kill with clunky attacks are
amusing for a couple of reasons, but it’s the hardcore gamers who get the
biggest last laugh.  Did they really think they could beat us with those
lackluster moves?

It’s not often that a
game of this stature can hold one’s interest.  Or more importantly, my
interest (I am the reviewer, after all).  The fun story, the characters’
style, and the frequently changing environments keep Gungrave: Overdose from
sinking.  The super-low price ($14.99) adds to the game’s appeal.  You can’t
recommend a crappy game that sells for a low price, but how could anyone not
be interested in a good game that sells for a little more than two game

Scoring Details

for Gungrave: Overdose

Gameplay: 7.9
Have you ever
wanted to be like Desperado?  You’d whip out your guns, run into a bar and let
the bad guys have it?  Gungrave: Overdose lets you be a desperado without
being desperate.  You’ll feel invincible as you pump your enemies full of
lead.  And you’ll appreciate how well the characters do it without ever losing
their cool.

Graphics: 7.9
Overdose’s graphics are just what the doctor ordered.  They’ll widen your
pupils faster than eye drops, and no matter how much you play you can’t
possibly have too much.  You could say that you can’t OD…on OD.

Sound: 7.9
Good voice
acting, decent music, and the never-ending sound of weapons being fired.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Can you move the
left analog stick?  Can you press the square button?  Then you can play and
defeat Gungrave: Overdose.

Concept: 7
Non-stop virtual
killing at an unusually low price.

Overall: 7.9
I don’t encourage
cheap games, nor do I make a habit of recommending them (especially when they
retail for under $20).  The thing is, it’s not easy to ignore the fact that
Gungrave: Overdose is better than some of its forty-dollar competitors.

Before you make your
decision, I suggest that you forget all that and take a look at the facts. 
Gungrave: Overdose is a very entertaining game that contains nothing but
combat.  This isn’t the kind of game I’ll spend a month of my time with (it’s
too short and repetitive for that).  However, will I come back to it in a few
months?  You bet.  It’s not perfect, but it isn’t forgettable either.  You
could rent it once now and rent it again later for twelve dollars.  Or you
could spend $14.99 and own it forever.