What a load of (s)crap!

GunGriffon: Allied Strike, developed by Tecmo for the Xbox, is a classic Japanese mech-style action/shooter. Quite simply put, you control a giant robot as you work your way through the various assigned missions. The storyline, such that it is, is that within thirty years time a revolution will happen in Asia that basically forces a lot of teeny tiny countries to succumb to one main ruler–creating a very large and powerful new country. As most radical (if slightly implausible) border consolidations do, this starts a new world war, and the U.N. sends in the quasi-cultural cavalry, including mechs. It’s time to down this new Asian government the only way a gamer knows how.

Unfortunately, it’s just not that much fun to play. The controls are especially wonky. A.K.A…Unless you are continually adjusting and re-adjusting your mech’s positioning and aware of which direction you are facing, you will end up heading sideways when you want to be going straight. Naturally, this can cause problems when you are in the middle of combat. While you sit there just trying to face your enemy, you get bombarded with enemy fire – losing precious shields and health.

On the bright side, the weapons’ control is decent enough, and that goes for weapon selection in the middle of combat, as well as the actual aiming and firing of the weapons. It’s always considerate of game designers to think that you might want to shoot things?in a shooter.

On each mission you take four different types of weaponry. To start out, for example, you get a machine gun, a requisite gun that fires large shells, some smaller missiles, and a last-resort large missile that fires a single shot and then must be reloaded before firing. As you progress each mission requires you to choose one of each of the four types of weapons to take with you. Further into the game you are finally treated to a decent selection of all types of weaponry.

All the nifty guns in the world, however, don’t make up for the fact that combat is rough, due to the unbalanced controls. On the flip side there are a couple of interesting features to help mix things up. For example, you also get a jetpack-type-thing that lets you fly around. Whee! There is nothing like a nifty gadget to distract you from awkward gameplay. You can actually escape if you are taking fire due to the crappy controls.

There is also a boost feature, which lets you shoot forward at a high rate of speed for those special instances when you want to get ‘up close and personal’ with the bad guys and don’t feel like walking. Finally, you always seem to have a follower accompanying you. This is basically a NPC mech that assists you during combat. You can even give it combat commands. Again, thanks to the crummy controls, you will be glad this guy is along for the ride. He’s like the wingmen in Star Fox just not an adorable animal.

Before you start each mission you are given a map showing the layout of the land. It identifies your targets, and where your supply drops will be. It even tells you where hidden enemies might be. Call me old fashioned, but not knowing where the hidden enemies are actually makes a game more fun. Taking that away diminishes this game’s entertainment value. Anyways, these maps paint a picture of the exact route you need to take to complete the mission. They also show just how little freedom you have in the game.

You might suppose that now is the time to extol the virtues of both graphics and sound in this title, but, quite frankly, that would be a waste of web space. The sound in the game is okay. It’s nothing special, but it’s not terrible, either. You mostly just hear the stomping of mech feet and things exploding. There might have been some music somewhere, but clearly it didn’t leave much of an impression.

The graphics, however, appear to be salvaged from a junk yard. Indeed a port of a six-year-old Sega Dreamcast game might be smoother and more lifelike. Sure, the mechs all look okay, but the rest of the game looks hideous. The environment is especially bad. Trees and other objects are flat pixilated garbage. The forests look like they were pulled out of a first-person RPG circa 1996. Some things were rendered decently, while others were utter trash. Over all, it’s uneven and could have used a lot more work. GunGriffon earns the dubious distinction of not even being worthy of standing next to an Xbox launch title graphically, let alone the current crop of eye candy.

The bottom line is this game missed the boat. It has some decent features here and there but, in the end, it comes across as only half finished. It’s got nasty graphics mixed with almost decent graphics, unbalanced controls, and completely lackluster sound. GunGriffon: Allied Strike may have had potential at some point, but as of right now it’s destined only for the junk heap.

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