Monday, February 18, 2008

Back from for the Grave

Maybe I'm on an assassin kick right now, because I decided to start playing Gungrave. I intended to start playing it right after I finished watching the series, but unsurprisingly I was sidetracked by obligations and other distractions. Now I'm a month off of the final episode, mind still fresh with the enjoyment I derived from watching, and I hoping to relive some of that same enjoyment. I had played Gungrave briefly before, but this was without a real understanding of the game system, without a real drive or focus and without the appreciation for the extended, though divergent, anime.

It's fun. It's fun to keep the shot button held down, scanning from enemy to destructible object to enemy again in an effort to keep the Beat Count up and the combo going. It's fun to dive forward, to fade away, guns ablaze as they switch to fully automatic. It's fun to slowly approach my opponents, never letting up on the gunfire, only to swat them aside with my coffin (yes, my coffin). It's fun, and it looks good.

In fact, it might be the implied sense of style that's got me the most enthralled. It's a fairly simple game, but the way you can take bullets without flinching, the way you can cut through thugs with ease, the way you do most of it at the same slow, methodically stride, it all implies that you're not only good enough to kill, you're good enough to put on a show at the same time.

Gungrave and No More Heroes are a little alike in that regard, but whereas No More Heroes shows its personality through flashy swordplay and over-the-top suplexes, Gungrave does it through precision (for the most part) gunplay. If your facing anything susceptible to gunfire, you'll hit it, not because of auto-homing, but auto-targeting. Grave was one of the best assassins, and his death has done nothing to deteriorate his skills. He'll hit whatever he aims at, and his undead condition means he can do it without worrying about return fire.

Travis Touchdown, a brass, cocky sonofabitch who kills to prove whose the best. Beyond the Grave, a ghost with a purpose and a taste for revenge. Both kill with élan. Travis, with speed and brutality. Grave, with thought and thoroughness. Different edges of the same fatally beautiful blade.

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