Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/24/00 | Genre: Action
Working Designs has been known to deliver great games that you can really sink your teeth into. As convention dictates, their first PS2 title, and latest publishing acquisition, Gungriffon Blaze, is a mech game with enough meat on it to choke a moose. Gaming vegetarians need not apply.
The story in Gungriffon Blaze can be accessed from the onset from an inventoried database on the option screen. For the sake of brevity, a transcontinental war is ablaze and you are one of many 400-ton, grenade rifle toting, terrain-toppling firemen called in to put out the fire. Bear in mind, games of this ilk are not noted for their gripping literary merit.
The main draw of Gungriffon Blaze is its intuitive arcadey gameplay. Whether careening through the skies, lobbing an explosive precipitation down on your adversaries or jetting around trees slalom-style to take out that persistent tank hiding in your rocket's resulting caldera, it will feel like you are piloting a real mech. The dual-analogue control scheme is also a great way to break in the PS2 controller, as there is ample opportunity to wail on pad amid all the action. Unfortunately, you will also experience all of the difficulty that you'd expect to entail controlling a mechanical giant. Those who remember the Mech Warrior series will be all to familiar with the mandatory first person view the game sticks you with, but fans of the more recent Armored Core series will find it hard to wean themselves from the third-person behind-the-vehicle camera position inherent in those games. But inasmuch, being in the cockpit heightens the experience by helping to immerse you into the game and stimulate your subconscious sense of battle.
Aesthetically, the game won't win any awards. Your mech--as well as myriad structures in the game--is comprised of a decidedly simple polygon model with garden-variety textures draped over them. However, Working Design's judgment call to simplify the game in that regard may have afforded them a greater net benefit as the game runs at mercurial 60 fps and the palette, while having a paucity of colors, is vivid enough to elucidate what is on the screen, letting you blast away without any confusion. My only other major gripe with the game is its length--make that, the lack thereof. Seasoned gamers could finish in an uninterrupted evening. The extras and bonuses you pick up in each sortie will promote a modicum of replay, but there really is no point to continuing to play the game after watching the credits role.
A pulse-pounding romp through continental badlands, Gungriffon Blaze is a fun way to pass some time before some of the PS2's more ambitious titles arrive. With a couple of friends and a healthy (unhealthy?) supply of Dr. Pepper, you can clamor in nostalgic reverie as you relive the days of solid gameplay and authentic action.