20th Jan2017

‘Gravity Rush 2′ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

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Originally released in 2012, Gravity Rush became something of cause-celebre amongst gamers. There were those that hailed the Vita exclusive title as one of the truly hidden gems on the platform: a beautiful looking title with gameplay unrestrained by traditional platform mechanics. Whilst there were others that denounced the game than little more than a tech demo for the PS Vita – bogged down by the cumbersome motion control system. Skip forward to early 2016 and Gravity Rush was remastered and re-released, complete with all the previously available DLC, only this time the game made it’s Playstation 4 debut.

Less than a year later and here comes Gravity Rush 2, a continuation of protagonist Kat’s story, only this time built from the ground up for a big-screen (rather than the Vita’s small screen) experience. And boy does it make a difference! Visually Gravity Rush 2 looks epic, an anime brought to life and made interactive if you will. The scope of the big screen is really used to it’s full capacity – and between the the design and the vastness, the floating worlds presented here reminded me very much of Studio Ghibli’s 1986 classic Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Gravity Rush 2 begins some time after the animated prequel (more on that later) and sees Kat working on a floating mining colony with Syd, seperated from her friends from the first game – and more importantly Dusty, the magical cat that gives Kat her gravity-defying powers. This introduction brings gamers into this new universe slowly, in almost a tutorial style whilst never actually feeling as such. Once the early “missions” are complete and you’re used to the controls etc. the game unfolds into what is, when alls said and done, an interactive anime epic. And it’s seriously epic – the end of the game is so far removed from the openingĀ  that it feels like you really have been on a huge journey with Kat.

What might be difficult to comprehend, for those who have never played Gravity Rush before, is the concept that our heroine Kat does NOT actually fly… Though it may look like the character is soaring across the skies in the trailer and in screenshots, Kat is in fact only ever falling down – only players get to determine where down actually is. So up can be down, so can sideways, it’s all at the players control! Speaking of control, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game – outside a survival horror – where I’ve held my breath so much. Why? The targeting system.

Right from the get-go, as the game walks you through the mechanics of the control system – which uses all the motion-control capabilites of the PS4 controller, including the gyroscope and accelerometer – I found myself holding my breath to make sure I didn’t move an inch as I lined up the target to move to the next floating island, because to move that target often means death. Of course by the time you’re immersed in the game, especially once you hit the superb second chapter of this three act story, that targeting becomes second-nature. Good job too – the same system is also used in combat, and there is many an occassion where you need to be quick and on-target when fighting this games amorphous villains, the Nevi. The gravity-defying system has also had an upgrade: Kat can now utilise two new styles – Lunar style, which makes her lighter; or Jupiter style, which makes her heavier. Both of which add a welcome new dimension to both movement and combat.

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If there’s any downside to Gravity Rush 2 it’s that it so-closely follows the original story, that to not have played the first game OR watched the animated prologue will be detrimental to this one – the developers throw you in at the deep end in this game’s opening, picking up Kat and co.’s tale after the end of the first game without any re-introduction to the world or the characters. Gravity Rush 2 presumes you know who everyone is, only showing you what you can do [this time around]. And that only gets more complex the further you get into the game, as more pre-existing characters resurface.

Between the main story, the side quests, and other challenges, there is plenty of game for your money here – especially if you aim to explore every portion of this anime world and complete as much as possible (though not being a fan of speed-based challenges I tended to avoid them where I could). Thankfully to complete the game never feels like a chore, insteadĀ Gravity Rush 2 is a joy to play and the involving, intricate story means that time – like Kat – flies!

Part Studio Ghibli, part The Last Airbender and ALL Japanese insanity (seriously, Western developers wouldn’t have such oddball characters, situations etc., as this – and this is all the better for its craziness), Gravity Rush 2 feels like a small chapter in what is a much larger universe (literally a chapter, as the games exposition is presented as interactive comic strips) – in much the same way as a Marvel movies are – and as such I look forward to more adventures of Kat, her magical cat Dusty and the rest of the Gravity Rush gang.

Gravity Rush 2 is released today, exclusively on Playstation 4.

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