XBOX REVIEW: GUNGRIFFON: ALLIED STRIKE

It would be easy, too easy, to just dismiss GunGriffon: Allied Strike as an inferior game based solely on its graphics. There is no doubt that this is one ugly looking game. It also lacks a host of features that are standard in other similarly styled games - such as a storyline, cutscenes and upgradable models. Still, there is something refreshing about the simplicity of the game. It's almost fun.

Think of GunGriffon: Allied Strike as a lost arcade game. You could have seen a game like this back in the late 80s at the mall. Featuring mechs of various designs, the object is to use them to blast the daylights out of the enemy over a huge, virtually barren landscape. Missions include the standard search and destroy, escort and defend. The mechs vary from what look like jumping jackhammers to flying missiles. Each mech has a quirky design with different attributes and weapons.

There's nothing you can do to improve any particular mech. Although you eventually unlock them all as you progress you have to pick the right mech for the job. There are times when you are forced to use specific mechs. The flying variety is the most fun but the four-legged ones are fast as well and manage to add a frenetic pace to the game.

The only form of what you might be able to call a power-up is the helicopter that lands a few times each mission to restock your ammo. It always lands as far away from you as possible, often on the other side of enemy lines. You'll have to scoot over there as fast as possible and get back to safety. Sometimes you just won't be able to make it. Life's a bitch - death is even worse.

The AI plays a good game. They are engaging in that they will react to the situation, often reforming, regrouping and using new tactics. Even on the "easy" setting there are some missions which seem almost impossible due to the onslaught of enemies. I did have to consult a walkthrough on two levels but once I found the answer I wondered why I didn't think of that myself. Isn't that always the case?

Not only are the mech varied, but so too are the levels. Some are short and easy while others are painfully challenging and seem to take forever to get through. The levels don't necessarily increase in difficulty nor are corresponding mechs more powerful or improved. At the very least the gameplay is not predictable.

Online modes allow up to eight players to take part in Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. A co-op mode lets you play through the single-player mode with one partner. You can only access this mode online and as far as graphics, framerate and other glitches are concerned, it's no better.

The animation is awful. The character models are interesting but they are very crude by today's standards. The environments are low res and very bland looking. Occasionally you may not be able to walk right through a particular barrier but other than that the environments are not interactive. Fortunately the controls are good and aiming is not a problem. This almost makes up for the claustrophobic camera that keeps enemies protected by not always displaying them in your line of sight.

You won't be missing much if you pass on Gungriffon: Allied Strike but I found that it's definitely a better way to spend a day than painting the basement. Look for it at low bargain prices after Christmas.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Game Arts
Pub: Tecmo
Released: Dec 2004
Players: 1 - 8 Online
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
2.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
2.5