I thought I would do something a little bit different for Random Game Wednesdays this week. I’ve covered games on several different platforms, going back to the NES and SNES multiple times, but I haven’t written about a game for the original Xbox yet. My Xbox collection is pretty small, only about twenty games, but there’s some real gems in there. Unfortunately, the random number generator decided to give me a game that I absolutely can’t stand.
GunValkyrie is a third-person shooter with platforming elements made by Sega’s Smilebit team. Smilebit is responsible for some pretty outstanding games, including Jet Set Radio and Panzer Dragoon, so it makes sense to go into this game with high expectations. What I found instead was an absolute mess of a game, with awful controls, uninteresting enemies, and just an all around “generic” feel.
There’s a lengthy cutscene at the start of the game that sets up the story. It was so muffled, however, that I’m not sure I fully got everything. That might have been an issue with my capture, so I’m not going to hold it against it. From what I could gather though, Halley’s Comet showed up in the 1800’s and somehow turned Dr Hebble, who at the time was an unborn infant, into a genius. I guess? We used this genius to introduce huge leaps in technology, allowing the British Empire to easily conquer the world. Now, Hebble has disappeared on a planet called Tir Na Nog, and the GunValkyries are being sent in to find him. Did you get all that? I’m not sure that I did.
Immediately when I gained control, I found myself wrestling with the camera. Like most third person games, the right stick controls camera movement. In this game, however, it only turns about as much as a person’s head would actually move, So you have to move with the left stick as well to see what you want to see. It’s really irritating.
Typically, the camera control is also used for aiming your weapons in games of this sort. In GunValkyrie, you just kind of automatically aim at anything that you’re vaguely facing. I found that just about every enemy in the first level could be beaten by just mashing the right trigger, which fires your weapon. Combat just isn’t fun, which is a really bad thing in a game that’s largely about combat.
There’s also the platforming elements I mentioned earlier. You can jump with the left trigger, and pressing it again activates your jetpack. That’s potentially fun, but I didn’t get a very good grasp of hovering around. You can also dash using your jetpack by pressing in the left stick and holding it in the direction you want to move. There’s a jump about halfway through the first level that requires you to do it, and getting it to work when I really needed it was almost impossible. I could get it to work just fine any other time, but when it really counted, there was just nothing happening.
I can’t say for sure if this is how it is with the whole game, but the design of the first level is incredibly bland. Your objective is to get a weapon at the end of the stage and bring it back to the beginning. The whole level is just a straight shot there and back. No exploring, no winding paths, you just go straight. You have to do some of that jetpack platforming to reach certain places, but it’s still just straight ahead of you. I hope they came up with something a little more interesting for later parts of the game.
So, is there anything I do like in this game? Before each mission, you’re given a briefing which includes what your objective is, what kind of enemies to look out for, and what some trouble spots might be. This is pretty cool, and is something I would appreciate more in a game that I actually enjoyed playing.
I did a quick google search of the game, and it seems there are people who really like it. So, maybe I just need to get further into to give it a shot. I don’t think I’m going to be doing that though. My time spent with GunValkyrie this morning was extremely unpleasant, and I can’t imagine it getting any better.