Game Description: In a post-apocalyptic future where the nations of the world have splintered into numerous unstable factions, only the powerful Western Alliance can bring peace and stability once more. With an arsenal of powerful AGWS-class infiltration units at their disposal, these battle-hardened warriors have what it takes to rip off a quick CHM round and sketch the less-skilled predatory scum of the New World Order.
When many gamers saw the first PlayStation 2 commercials touting the future fantasy-like exploits of the PS9, they lost it. It was the final straw. Those over-exaggerated commercials represented the culmination of hype and bravado that Sony had been brandishing for months prior to the release of the system as if it could do no wrong. But that arrogance soon shifted to humility after Sony failed to make good on its promises and public opinion started to turn on them faster than Kelly turned on Sue. The proof would be in the pudding, and unfortunately, the pudding was mostly made up of forgettable shovelware like Gungriffon Blaze; a giant robot game that is not only lacking in innovation, but also fundamental principles that have guided winning titles since the days of the 8-bit NES system.
There are so many things wrong with Gungriffon Blaze, I barely know where I should begin. It's like a laundry list of how not to make a next-generation title.
For conveniences sake, let me start with the graphics. Gungriffon Blaze looks so unremarkable that I questioned why it was even developed for the PlayStation 2 and not on an older console. There aren't any significant new special effects on display, which is usually the norm for first-generation titles. Explosions and weapons animations are industrially mundane. 3D models of robots, vehicles and landscapes aren't particularly detailed or interesting in any manner, and on the whole, everything looks and animates unconvincingly. That of course is the first cardinal sin when it comes to making a good giant robot game. In order for the outrageous premise of hulking mechanical foot soldiers to work, players must need to believe that it's possible, and when a game looks as chintzy as this one, it's hard to suspend your own taste, let alone belief.
Spotting glaring holes in the gameplay was equally as obvious as the pitiful graphics. When not bothered by the grammatical errors and the poor type spacing in the text, I was befuddled by a control scheme that just didn't seem to want to cooperate, despite making sense on paper. Chalk it up to poor execution.
The controls were far from the only thing lacking, either. Unbelievably, there are only five scarce missions to the entire game, and the game makes minimal effort to tie the missions together in some form, story arc or continuity. Add to the fact that each mission can be replayed at higher difficulty levels only makes this a pill tougher to swallow. Not only is the advanced difficulty level gesture a poor substitute for lacking content, but it's also an insult to any consumer's intelligence.
Amazingly, the worst is still yet to come. The problem that plagues Gungriffon Blaze the most is that it never makes up its mind as to what kind of giant robot game it wants to be. On one hand, it tries to be an fast-paced action title with power-ups littering the landscape. On the other hand, it wants to be a serious simulator, with complex controls and mission objectives. The game never quite finds a good balance between the two styles, and the confusion is evident everywhere. The gameplay is too tough to be a fun action game, and there aren't enough standard-issue sim features -- like customizations, radars and tracking devices -- to deal with the complex and realistic elements. Gungriffon Blaze is sort of like the other Voltron made up of 15 vehicles; a confusing amalgamation.
File Gungriffon Blaze under "What were they thinking?" Game Arts is company that has been producing quality titles that date back to '80s, but Gungriffon Blaze is a horrible misstep for them. It's an embarrassment to their brand and another reminder that the PlayStation 2 isn't the end all of video game consoles that everyone was anticipating.
Playing Gungriffon Blaze, I definitely agree with Chi when he said that almost everything is done wrong here. The offenses taken separately by themselves aren't anything that would ruin a normal game, but there are just so many individual pieces that don't work. When you add them all up it makes for a pretty miserable experience, and a game that does not deserve to be purchased under any circumstances.
In terms of graphics, it's extremely bland as Chi already mentioned. While the visuals are fairly solid, who cares? It comes off as an unimaginative PlayStation game using the PlayStation 2's much-lauded power only to eliminate clipping and severe pop-in. It's a bunch of unremarkable generic robot designs running through featureless fields and pixel-flat trees, with only the occasional blocky bunker or slope to break up the monotony. For most of the game I felt as though I was playing the one copy of Krazy Ivan in existence which didn't include the obscene amount of fog. The only thing out of the game's entire visual display which caught my eye was a 12-second snippet of the intro movie. What's the point of this game being on the PlayStation 2 if they aren't going to take advantage of the machine by making it artistically and visually attractive?
Another thing which annoyed me to no end was the horrible control layout. Any game which uses the shoulder buttons for major functions like, oh, let's say "jump" and "shoot" while LEAVING FACE BUTTONS UNUSED in the default setting needs to go back to the design team and be redone. There are alternate setups offered, but they're all clunky in one way or another with none satisfying, mostly due to the two-stick control scheme. With such a supposedly powerful machine, it's sheer laziness to not offer the player the option to re-map the buttons and switch the functions of the sticks.
Far and away, the thing in Gungriffon Blaze which destroyed my enjoyment beyond any hope of salvation was the complete and utter lack of a map or usable radar device. While the areas you fight in are unexpectedly small and surrounded by the infamous "you are leaving the area" invisible walls formerly found in Star Fox or WarHawk, at times it was extremely difficult to locate the enemies you're there to annihilate. While relying on line-of-sight is fine in some situations, having no map of the area to look at for reference points was either an incredible oversight or one of the worst decisions in game design I've seen in a while. While I appreciate certain elements of challenge in video games, having the designers take away all informational resources while I'm in a warzone is not one of them. With no way to tell where you are on the battlefield, the next best thing would be to have some way of locating your enemies. Unfortunately, your only locating device is a yellow version of K.I.T.T.'s eye from Knight Rider, which is so woefully inadequate and nonfunctional that I was making wombat noises in frustration. Even the most basic PlayStation game had features which solved these unnecessary problems.
I could go on and on and on about things in the game that didn't work, but to make a long story short there was nothing at all here that I liked or which merits hard-earned dollars from hard-working consumers. In the hour and a half it took me to complete the game's paltry five stages, I was assaulted by one unsatisfactory thing after another, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The game doesn't even have any next-generation features which couldn't have been done on the PlayStation. It's a short, boring and unimaginative game which offers absolutely nothing to the genres of giant robots or mecha warfare that hasn't already been done better by a dozen other games, including its own predecessor on the Sega Saturn. Any gamer would be much better off just buying a DVD and some popcorn than wasting any time with this sad disc, and that's the problem with the current lineup of PlayStation 2 software in general. With all the hype, Sony sure hasn't delivered on their promises quite yet.
According to ESRB, this game contains: Animated Violence, Mild Language
Parents, if the little tikes are begging for this one (though I can't imagine why) or if you're looking for a game to go alongside the purchase of a brand new PlayStation 2, I would stay clear of this one. There's no violence, sex or profanity issues to be concerned about, but you'll probably ruin your child's taste by forcing them to play this one.
PlayStation 2 owners and giant robot fans looking for their latest fix of the genre should steer clear of Gungriffon Blaze. This is a title that misses the mark on so many levels, and it's not like gamers don't have options, either. Not only is Armored Core 2 a better title (though in many ways, it too has its problems), but there's also Zone Of The Enders to look forward to. Those who own a Dreamcast and PC, should also strongly consider Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise Of The Ashes and Mechwarrior 4 (respectively for each platform) as well.