Gamestyle Archive intro: another preview revived for the site. The only memory of the game in 2014 was the difficulty yet maybe we’ll learn more if the review turns up as we continue this archive. Writer JJ, published January 2002.
Now that Sega has gone multi-platform more gamers are reaping the benefits of original and stunning titles. Of the main formats it does seem on paper so far that the Xbox is receiving more than its fair share of Sega games rather than the ports that have appeared on the Playstation 2, indeed Gunvalkyrie was originally heading for the Dreamcast until Sega’s change of direction. Gunvalkyrie is from the Smilebit team who are responsible for Jet Set Radio, Hundred Swords and Typing of the Dead, in other words quality and originality assured. The game been labelled as a brand new type of 3D shooting game by the developer and comparisons (even by the developer) to Starship Troopers are rife.
You are placed on a mysterious planet infested by alien reptiles and worms. Finger on the trigger and off you go. The difficult terrain will also pose problems and dangers for player, if the bugs weren’t enough. Plots and shooting games do not accommodate one another easily and this is the case here once again. The plot is minimal, allowing the player to enjoy the thrill of high-speed action without being distracted by cut scenes or missions. For what its worth alien bugs, due to his expertise in technology and weaponry, have captured a brilliant scientist. It is vitally important that you and your elite unit locate the scientist and the technology if possible. The designs of the characters are very reminiscent of Virtua On and include a wide range of devastating weaponry that you will sorely need.
One of the key phrases associated with Gunvalkyrie is freedom of movement, because in essence this is what the developer intends to bring. By using both of the Xbox analogue sticks they hope to recreate this feeling; one controls movement while the other controls your aiming sights. This combination is not unique, as it has been attempted before with varying success as seen in Virtua On. Feedback so far indicates that work still needs to be done to smooth out the control system. Given the 3D nature of the game it can be difficult to see enemies from all sides often leading the player to stop and correct their position and view. With both hands around the sticks your fingers will be left to the triggers that control the firing and boost functions. The Dreamcast version was originally going to use both the controller and light gun but thankfully the much-criticised Xbox controller provides a suitable solution.
Graphically the game is stunning and shows just how accomplished Smilebit are with the Xbox already. A huge variety of textures and lighting effects are in evidence from the footage already released. Adding to the expectations is the speed at which the game runs even when the screen is full of baddies – all superbly animated. At times the game is a ballet of violence with contenders engaged in a set piece of explosions, carnage and thumping music. Spectacular to witness and thrilling to play it unquestionable is, however as with all shooting games replay value and depth is limited. How Smilebit tackles these fundamental problems associated with the genre remain to be seen. With no multi-player aspect included it will be a difficult task but the game will include some online element as of yet unspecified. Smilebit may also, fingers crossed; take advantage of the Xbox linkup facility?
Jet Set Radio Future may be grabbing all the headlines and attention for Smilebit but Gunvalkyrie is shaping up to be an enjoyable and spectacular if limited romp. A definite sleeper hit and one to watch out for over the coming months.